German GP: Ducati Marlboro Team preview

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM HEAD TO GERMANY AS MOTOGP CROSSES SEASON EQUATOR BODY { font-family : Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; } An intense period of MotoGP activity concludes with back-to-back races over the next two...

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM HEAD TO GERMANY AS MOTOGP CROSSES SEASON EQUATOR

BODY { font-family : Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; } An intense period of MotoGP activity concludes with back-to-back races over the next two weekends, with consecutive Grand Prix events in Germany and the United States making it six races in eight weeks and bringing the season towards a well-earned summer break. Last year's race at the Sachsenring took place in torrid temperatures which, according to the most recent forecasts, should not be repeated this time around.

In fact, as has been the case for seven of the last nine races this season, mixed conditions are predicted for this weekend, which is expected to see maximum temperatures of 24ºC. In any case, the Ducati Marlboro Team is ready for two races that are of equal importance to its two riders, for a variety of reasons. Casey Stoner heads to Germany on the back of consecutive victories and he is keen to banish the memories of an unfortunate race there last season, when he dominated in practice only to be forced into damage limitation in the race as he battled with an unexpected tyre problem, eventually crossing the line in fifth place.

Marco Melandri is hoping to finally end his troubles at a circuit where he has already enjoyed great success. The Italian has taken victory at the Sachsenring on no fewer than three occasions in the small classes, having won the 125cc race in 1999 and the 250cc race in 2001 and 2002, as well as finishing second in the MotoGP race two years ago. Like his current team-mate, Melandri was also impressive in practice last year although a tyre problem also saw him struggle in the race as he took sixth place.

Stoner, meanwhile, has just one podium to his name here - a second-place finish in the 250cc race in 2003 - but last year's impressive pole position shows that he has the pace and the knowledge to be competitive at the notoriously tight and twisty circuit.

LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director

"Sachsenring and Laguna will be two important races both for Casey and for Marco. Last year in Germany Casey dominated practice for the whole weekend but his performance was limited in the race by an unexpected tyre problem. I'm sure that the great work done by Bridgestone this year will ensure he's in the right shape to attack in the race as only he knows how. He travels on the back of two fantastic performances and we can't wait to see him in action again. Marco also had a good race at Sachsenring last year and was only denied a podium finish by the same problem. It is a track he has always gone well at so we all hope that Germany can be the turning point in a truly difficult season."

CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team

"We feel quite confident for Sachsenring, where we were already competitive last year and it was only an issue with tyre life that prevented us from fighting for victory. I'm sure this problem won't happen again this year because Bridgestone have not stopped working and they continually bring us great new material. The bike has been perfect for the last two races and I expect it to go well at Sachsenring too. The track is a little different to most of the others because there are such long corners, which I don't like too much, but there are also some fun points and I'm happy to go racing there. It's been nice to have a few days' rest after such a demanding month - a weekend off isn't exactly a holiday but it's just enough to get your breath back and prepare for the next races."

MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati Marlboro Team

"Now we go to Sachsenring, which is one of my favourite tracks because of the good results I've had there. When you've done well at a track you usually like it! It is unusual because the first three corners are very, very slow and you virtually turn back on yourself but then there's a nicer, much faster section. In general it's a technical track and you need to improvise a little bit because there are some blind sections where you can't see the next bend. I've always had fun there and I hope I do again because that would mean to say that things are improving."

THE TRACK

Sachsenring was first introduced to the calendar in 1961 and it has traditionally drawn huge crowds. Initially a high-speed road circuit, it was deemed to be too dangerous for Grand Prix racing and was removed from the calendar in 1972. A completely overhaul of the track saw it return in 1998, ironically as the slowest circuit on the calendar with an average speed of just 143km/h. Modifications introduced in 2000 and 2001 brought that speed up to 159km/h but the track, which runs anti-clockwise, remains tight and twisty, demanding optimum engine performance in the mid-range.

-credit: ducati

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Marco Melandri , Casey Stoner