Laguna Seca: Ducati preview

Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila) will be bringing the Ducati 999 Factory '03 to the United States of America for the first time as they go head-to-head with a determined bunch of American wild-card riders at Monterey's spectacular...

Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila) will be bringing the Ducati 999 Factory '03 to the United States of America for the first time as they go head-to-head with a determined bunch of American wild-card riders at Monterey's spectacular Laguna Seca Raceway this weekend. Round 8 of the 12-race World Superbike Championship sees the Ducati Fila duo, currently lying first and second in the standings after sharing 13 of 14 race wins, aiming to add more successes to Ducati Corse's Laguna total after Ben Bostrom's double in 2001 and Troy Bayliss's singleton win last year.

Hodgson has won 11 of the 14 races held so far this year and goes into the US round with a 107-point lead, but he doesn't underestimate the strength of the US riders. "I'm sure the Americans will give us a run for our money this weekend, they're always really fast round here" declared Neil. "I'm looking forward to Laguna, it's my favourite track together with Brands Hatch, it's got a lot of character. 80% of circuits I race on I don't really enjoy but Laguna Seca is unique, I love being here, the climate is perfect to ride a motorcycle, and I'm raring to go. 1996 was my first ever world championship podium so that is the best memory I've got of this circuit. I finished on the podium last year, second and third in 2001, so I want to be up there again this year".

Xaus bounced back to form at Misano with a brilliant double victory from row 3 of the grid and he aims to continue his good run at Laguna. "It was a good performance from myself and the team in Misano and we hope to do well here" commented Ruben. "The bike is new for this track, so we're going to use the information from last year as a starting-point for the weekend. I'm sorry for the guys who are not going to race here, it would have been more fun for us, but it'll be good to race against guys like Mladin, Yates and Eric Bostrom. Laguna is a really special track and I finished second behind Troy in 2002, so I'll be looking to improve on that this year".

Second race in the USA for Turin-born Italian Giovanni Bussei, who will ride the Ducati 998 in the AMA Superbike round on Saturday and in both WSBK races on Sunday, where he is entered as a 'wild-card' by Terry Gregoricka's Ducati Austin team.

Laguna Seca, located on California's Monterey coast, is one of the world's most spectacular circuits and, with its tricky Corkscrew curve and the presence of AMA wild-card riders, it always offers some of the toughest racing of the entire championship. The circuit, which has six left and four right-hand corners, measures 3.610 kms and the start/finish straight is 300 metres long.

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