TEAM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI LOOK FOR SHANGHAI REDEMPTION After a two-week break following the Grand Prix of Portugal, the 2008 MotoGP World Championship returns this weekend with the Grand Prix of China at Shanghai. It is an important round for...
TEAM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI LOOK FOR SHANGHAI REDEMPTION
After a two-week break following the Grand Prix of Portugal, the 2008 MotoGP World Championship returns this weekend with the Grand Prix of China at Shanghai. It is an important round for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, as it kicks off the season's 'tour de force' -- with five races in little over a month.
The Chinese stage provides something of an appetiser to the European main course, with races to follow in France, Italy, Catalonia, Great Britain and Holland over a forty-day period.
That makes it even more crucial to leave Shanghai with a good result, generating confidence for the weeks ahead. Both Alex De Angelis and Shinya Nakano enjoyed a highly positive tyre test at Estoril following the Grand Prix of Portugal and are convinced the Shanghai circuit can provide them with a chance to turn their early-season fortunes around.
De Angelis, who has now completely recovered from the severe bout of tonsillitis that slowed him down at Estoril, is looking to reproduce the kind of form that saw him running in the lead pack during winter testing and in the opening round in Qatar.
Nakano, who has made the most of the journey east to visit his home in Japan, is focusing on an improved performance in qualifying to give himself a better chance of competing in the race.
#15 ALEX DE ANGELIS
"Shanghai won't be an easy circuit, there's a long straight and at the moment we're a little down on horsepower, as was shown by our top speed at the last couple of races. In any case, Bridgestone have always gone well in China so that gives us confidence - even more so after the great test we had in Portugal. In China there is always the risk of rain but considering that in the wet warm-up at Estoril I was second fastest we should be able to hold our own. Physically I'm in good shape -- I've recovered 100% from the illness in Portugal. I've trained hard and I'm ready to give my best. The target is a top ten finish."
#56 SHINYA NAKANO
"At Estoril after the Grand Prix we tested a few Bridgestone fronts and found a good compound and construction. If we can combine those two factors I think we can be very competitive at Shanghai. The circuit is a lot of fun -- the main characteristic there is the long straight followed by a tight and slow hairpin, which is a really difficult place to master. Last year another rider didn't manage to get the bike stopped there on the first lap and he knocked into me, forcing me to crash, so the first objective this year is to get through the first lap! Joking aside I like the track and I qualified well here last year. The first three races of this year haven't been good for me in terms of qualifying but I think Shanghai can be different. It will be important to do so to be able to follow the front group."
FAUSTO GRESINI -- TEAM MANAGER
"In the test after the Grand Prix of Portugal we found a really good pace - De Angelis completed a really interesting run with a new batch of Bridgestone tyres. Alex dropped his race times noticeably and kept his pace going for a good number of laps so that is a positive sign for China and the other races to come. Shinya also tested some interesting things and I'm convinced they'll allow him to progress. We knew it would be a tough start to the year but a series of circumstances that have arisen at each GP have made them even tougher than we expected. Now we're ready to show our true worth."
Shanghai, which was designed by Hermann Tilke and inaugurated in 2004 features the longest straight on the MotoGP calendar. At 1202 it outstretches Mugello (1141m), Losail (1068) and Barcelona (1047), which are the only other straights that exceed a kilometre. In 2006, when the MotoGP bikes were powered by 990cc engines, Shanghai witnessed speeds of up to 340 km/h, whilst last year the 800cc machines hit 333km/h. The last three editions of this Grand Prix have seen three different winning riders and manufacturers: Valentino Rossi took victory in 2005 on a Yamaha; in 2006 it was Dani Pedrosa on a Honda and last year it was the Ducati ridden by Casey Stoner.