Fiat Yamaha Team ready to put up western front The Fiat Yamaha Team make the Mediterranean road trip from the east coast of Italy to the west coast of Portugal this week aiming to put their biggest disappointment of the season behind them after...
Fiat Yamaha Team ready to put up western front
The Fiat Yamaha Team make the Mediterranean road trip from the east coast of Italy to the west coast of Portugal this week aiming to put their biggest disappointment of the season behind them after a home Grand Prix to forget at Misano. Valentino Rossi's retirement from that race was his fourth non-podium finish in as many races - his worst run since 2000 - whilst tyre problems returned to haunt Colin Edwards in a race that saw Casey Stoner take his eighth victory of the season.
With 85 points now separating Stoner from Rossi at the top of the championship and just five races remaining it appears that the 2007 is almost out of reach, but until the mathematics confirm it the Fiat Yamaha Team will refuse to wave the white flag - especially with a circuit like Estoril on the horizon. Its location on the western tip of Europe, just seven kilometres from the Atlantic coast, makes it vulnerable to dramatic changes in weather and high gusts of wind, meaning the riders can take nothing for granted.
Even the layout of Autodromo Fernanda Pires de Silva circuit is one of extreme contrasts. It features one of the longest main straights in MotoGP and a tight chicane, which is one of the slowest corners on the calendar. Several other twisty sections contribute to the lowest average speed in the championship and the throttle is seldom overworked on the tortuous infield sections, which are riddled by a host of second and third gear bends. However, the 200km/h kink at turn five and the final Parabolica corner are two of the toughest tests of any rider and machine's cornering prowess and make for exciting viewing.
Valentino Rossi - "We'll try to win all five" As well as having a score to settle after his disappointment at Misano, Valentino Rossi has extra reason to look forward to Estoril thanks to his fantastic record at the Portuguese circuit in the premier class. The Italian has finished on the podium on each of his seven visits, including a sequence of four successive victories from 2001 to 2004, and narrowly missed out on adding to that win tally last season when he was beaten to the line by Toni Elias by just 0.002 seconds.
"Misano was a great, great disappointment," said Rossi. "To not have the chance to fight and to finish after just a few laps was a terrible thing, but now we just have to put it behind us. We got back to work straight away on Monday for the test and we did some really good work with Michelin - it seems that they found some good new tyres and overall it was quite an encouraging test, much more than the last one. Hopefully we will be ready in Estoril with a package with which we can fight.
"To be honest the championship is almost out of reach for us, especially when Stoner is so strong, so we will put all our energies into holding onto our second place and winning as many races as possible, as well as thinking about continuing the development of our package for next year. Now the aim is to have a good end to the season - we have five races left and we will be trying to win all five, even if the championship is out of our reach. I've had some good races at Estoril in the past although last year I missed out on the win by a tiny amount!"
Colin Edwards - "A lot more confident" had one of his best weekends of 2006 at Estoril, finishing just off the podium in fourth place. The Texan qualified second on the grid and crossed the line less than a second behind the race winner - a performance he would love to have the opportunity to repeat this time around.
"Misano was another bad day at the office but we learnt a lot at the test on Monday and I think it was really the most positive one we've had all year," said Edwards. "We really seemed to get onto something with Michelin and I think everyone felt that we were finally making some good steps forward. We've got a lot of work to do and it's not going to change overnight but I think we're all feeling a lot more confident for the next race than we did after the Brno test.
"There's only five races left and the championship hasn't panned out for myself or Valentino like we hoped, but we've got a great team and everyone will keep working as hard as they can to give us all something to be happy about over the final races. I'm determined to turn things around in Estoril, I had a good race last year and only just missed out on the podium and I'll be looking to make up for that this time around."
Davide Brivio - "It's not over yet" Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio is remaining upbeat despite recognising the size of the challenge that lies ahead over the next five races. With an 85-point gap to the championship summit, Brivio admits that the title is a fading target and says the more immediate concern is to get Rossi and Edwards back at the business end of the field after a run of four races without a podium.
"It's not over yet but we know that a gap of 85 points to such a strong rival package will be very, very difficult to recover," admits Brivio. "All we can do is take it race buy race and try to put Valentino and Colin in a position to fight for race victories and podiums as soon as possible. That will be our goal for Estoril, where we have been very competitive in the past with both riders.
"First of all we have to hope that the tyres are competitive and from there on we can try. The test at Misano was positive so hopefully that improved performance carries over to Estoril. We know we have a rider who is capable of winning races and he deserves to be winning much more than he is now so we can only try our best to give him the equipment he needs to do that."