Qatari GP: Gresini Racing preview

New, Major Challenge Team San Carlo Honda Gresini is ready to start a new, major challenge. This weekend at the Losail Circuit in Qatar the 2008 edition of the MotoGP World Championship gets underway with an historic event -- the first ever ...

New, Major Challenge

Team San Carlo Honda Gresini is ready to start a new, major challenge. This weekend at the Losail Circuit in Qatar the 2008 edition of the MotoGP World Championship gets underway with an historic event -- the first ever Grand Prix to be held at night under artificial light. The Italian squad will be tackling this latest adventure with a completely new look and with two new riders -- San Marino rookie Alex de Angelis, who makes the step up from the 250cc class, and experienced Japanese star Shinya Nakano, who is determined to return to the sharp end of the premier class. The team also have a new title sponsor: San Carlo, a brand leader in the snack industry, has joined forces with Gresini Racing with the shared objective of achieving sporting excellence together. Optimism within the ranks led by Fausto Gresini is higher than ever thanks to the strengthening relationships with two hugely important partners in the shape of Honda and Bridgestone. The combination of the 2008 version RC212V and the Japanese tyres has proved to be highly competitive during the preseason tests.

#15 ALEX DE ANGELIS

"The Grand Prix of Qatar will be really special for me; as well as being my first race in MotoGP it will also be the first ever race at night so there will be a lot of variables to take into account and it's not going to make things easy. I'm aware that I still have to gather a lot of experience but we're going there strong because all of the tests, not just the one at Losail, have gone well. In the last test I did a really good race simulation, with a best time of 1'56"8 on the 21st lap, which shows that the tyres were still in perfect condition. When I did my first MotoGP test there were so many question marks, I didn't know if I would be fast enough or how long it might take me to get up to speed, but everything has run smoothly from the first few laps and that has created a calm atmosphere in the box. The team already feels like a family because most of the guys are my compatriots. Obviously our target is results but there isn't a lot of pressure on me and I'm continually being told to ride to enjoy myself. If that's the goal then we've met it already!"

#56 SHINYA NAKANO

"The night race will be a completely new experience - I'm happy that MotoGP are experimenting with new initiatives and I'm sure it will be fun. I'm really enjoying working with the team -- the mechanics work really hard, all the staff are very professional and my Chief Mechanic Antonio Jimenez is giving me a lot of confidence. Fausto Gresini told me that his team is like a family and he's invited me to move to Italy. I've gladly accepted because this way I can spend more time with the team and improve communication within the garage. Also, I get to enjoy Italian cooking! I am continually getting more and more confidence with the bike and the Bridgestone tyres, which I have great memories of, having used them in the past. I can't wait to get started -- I'm just spending a few days Dubai, where I'm training hard to be in the best possible shape for the race."

Fausto Gresini -- Team Manager

"The results from the last test in Qatar, apart from the two crashes for Alex and Shinya, were definitely positive and we head to the first Grand Prix knowing that we have a good pace in race trim. De Angelis wasn't far off the top guys -- he still has a few things to improve but we're ready for the race. As far as qualifying is concerned, things are slightly more complicated and we need to make some steps forward. Nakano has improved a lot over the winter tests, he's very consistent and I'm expecting good results from him. He maybe needs to be a bit more aggressive but I'm convinced that will come once the racing starts. The guys in the team are all happy. A new line-up means starting again almost from zero but we have always liked a challenge and we won't be taking a backward step. It is funny that with the addition of Shinya we've become the most Japanese team in MotoGP! Not only is one of our riders Japanese but also the Honda machinery, the Bridgestone tyres and the Nissin brakes. Having said that, Nakano is going to become a little Italian too because he's moving to Misano Adriatico, where he can live and train near the team. Finally I'd like to thank San Carlo: it is really nice to be joined by an Italian partner that believes in us and sees our sport as a valuable tool to reach youngsters."

-credit: gresini

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Shinya Nakano , Alex de Angelis