US GP: Ducati preview

DUCATI LOOK TO CONTINUE GREAT FORM AT LAGUNA SECA The Ducati MotoGP Team tackle the final race before the summer break this weekend just days after Casey Stoner's most recent success at Sachsenring, where the Australian's third consecutive ...

DUCATI LOOK TO CONTINUE GREAT FORM AT LAGUNA SECA

The Ducati MotoGP Team tackle the final race before the summer break this weekend just days after Casey Stoner's most recent success at Sachsenring, where the Australian's third consecutive victory and his fourteenth overall for Ducati took his win rate to 50% from 28 races contested so far in the Borgo Panigale factory's colours.

Marco Melandri also produced a good performance in Germany, where he returned to competitive form with an exciting battle through the field, only to be halted in his tracks with an unfortunate crash just moments after he set the fastest lap of the race.

The USGP, which only features the MotoGP class, brings to an end an intensive period of races that has brought the top three riders in the championship even closer together, with just 20 points now covering Valentino Rossi, Daniel Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. The reigning World Champion, currently in third place, is hoping to close that gap down even further this weekend whilst the target for Melandri is to convert his progress at Sachsenring into a positive result.

Stoner scored one of the most memorable victories of his short MotoGP career at Laguna last year, when he dominated in practice and blasted his way to victory from pole position, smashing the lap record in the process. Melandri also produced an incredible performance in 2007, when he charged to the podium from the fourth row of the grid despite injuring himself in a practice crash.

LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director

"This is really a magical period for Casey and we head to Laguna full of confidence. It's a track he likes and he was incredible there all weekend last year. We all want to do well again but every race is always different and the 2008 championship is at a very high level. I think Marco can also do well at a circuit he likes a lot and following a weekend where he showed signs of improvement compared to previous races. We have a huge fan base in America so we hope we can reward their support with another great performance! "

CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team

"The race at Laguna last year really was fantastic and it would be amazing to be able to repeat that but we know this will be very difficult. We have to believe in it though and keep pushing as hard as we can to close this championship down. It's a nice place and in general I like racing in America because the public and the fans you meet in the paddock are great - always really pleasant, polite and supportive of all the riders. The track is really nice too, it's great fun but also very demanding with so many elevation changes and tough corners. I like it because it feels 'natural' - it follows the lay of the land and isn't one of those circuits that was designed on a computer. Hopefully we can start out well and get a good set-up again from Friday."

MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati MotoGP Team

"I really like Laguna Seca. It is a short track that barely gives you chance to catch your breath and it is very technical, with some really fast corners mixed with some slower ones. The Corkscrew is probably one of the most famous corners in the world although in reality it is not so crucial to the lap time. It is unusual though and very beautiful: there is no other corner as exciting as that in the world. I think the circuit as a whole is one of the most fun on the calendar and the atmosphere is great, it's really special. I have always been fascinated with America and I always look forward to going there. I go there this time in better spirits because I know that the progress we made in Germany can carry through to here."

THE TRACK

Laguna Seca played host to the US Grand Prix on six occasions between 1988 and 1994 before being removed from the calendar. A series of major structural improvements to the facility saw the World Championship return in 2005, although only for the MotoGP class. The track, which flows around the undulating hills on the outskirts of Monterey, is most famous for the Corkscrew, a tight and spectacular left-right downhill chicane. In fact, the entire circuit is a rollercoaster ride, with a few short straights and a series of fast corners and elevation changes that often leave the front wheel pawing at the air. The 3.610km track is the perfect amphitheatre for the fans and is surprisingly straightforward in terms of machine set-up, with little opportunity to maximise full throttle. Frequent downhill braking zones put extra stress on the front end and make tyre wear a crucial factor.

TRACK FACTS

Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati - 2007), 1'22.542 - 157.447km/h
Best Pole: Casey Stoner (Ducati - 2007), 1'22.292 - 157.925 km/h
Circuit Length: 3.610km
MotoGP Race 2008: 32 laps (115.520 km)
MotoGP Timetable 2008:

-credit: ducati.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Marco Melandri , Casey Stoner