Italian GP: Ducati preview

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM READY TO RACE IN FRONT OF HOME CROWD The old fashioned layout of Mugello makes it one of the favourites for the MotoGP riders. Technical but fast, with a main straight measuring over a kilometre in length and without the ...

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM READY TO RACE IN FRONT OF HOME CROWD

The old fashioned layout of Mugello makes it one of the favourites for the MotoGP riders. Technical but fast, with a main straight measuring over a kilometre in length and without the stop-and-go sections that break up the rhythm and flow of modern circuits, the Tuscan venue has yet to be mastered by a Ducati Marlboro Team rider despite four podiums and two fourth places out of six visits there in the premier class.

With the Desmosedici 800cc machine having crossed the line in third place in 2007 with Alex Barros and second last year with Casey Stoner, there is no reason why the upward trend cannot continue this weekend. The World Championship standings are as close as they could possibly be after four rounds, with the same four protagonists as last year -- Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Stoner and Dani Pedrosa -- covered by just nine points. Ducati Marlboro Team rider Stoner also has nine points more than he did at the same stage last season.

Both Stoner and his team-mate Nicky Hayden will have plenty of support as they fly the factory colours this weekend, cheered on by 3,000 Ducatisti who will once again pack out the Correntaio corner in Ducati red.

LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director

"Mugello is a special race for us. The atmosphere is unique and we have lots of great memories. It will be tough, like always, but I think we can do well -- as the impressive lap times recorded by Troy and Vitto in the recent test demonstrated. Let's hope the weather doesn't play games with us like it has on so many occasions already this year so that we can really prepare well for our home race!"

CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team (3rd in the championship on 65 points)

"I can't wait to race again Mugello -- a circuit where I've had good results and some unforgettable moments, such as my first ever pole position in 2003 (125cc) and my first pole for Ducati in 2007, even though we just missed out on the podium in that race. Last year I finished second and considering the progress we've made since then, I'm sure we can be fighting for it again this time. It will be a tough race because the level of the competition is so high, as you can see from the championship standings, and all the home riders will be more determined than ever to do well, but I also like Mugello a lot -- it is one of my favourite circuits. The fans are really passionate and even though they may get behind one rider more than others you can see that in general they have a passion for the sport above anything. Hopefully we can pick up a good result because this is Ducati's home circuit and that always makes it extra special."

NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Marlboro Team (15th in the championship on 9 points)

"It is going to be really nice for me to race at Mugello as a Ducati rider because I can remember from past seasons seeing all the fans dressed in red and cheering on their riders from the grandstand. It is an honour and a privilege for me to now be a part of this team and this tradition. I hope with all my heart that I can be competitive because those fans don't deserve to see a Ducati at the back. The track is awesome -- there are maybe a few too many bumps but the layout is incredible and in general it is one of the best GPs of the whole championship. I'd really like to have some better results on the board and be going into the factory's home race with some more experience under our belts but we are making progress and now I hope we can make a good step on Friday so that we can build on it over the rest of the weekend."

THE TRACK

Measuring 5.245km in length, the Mugello circuit is one of the longest on the current MotoGP calendar and it stands out from other fast tracks thanks to the drastic elevation changes and the high-speed chicanes. The main straight, at 1,141km, is also one of the longest on the calendar and it is followed by a blind rise into the tight turn one, San Donato, where the riders' speed drops from around 320km/h to less than 100. The front straight is the fastest part of the track, with the rest an exciting mixture of fast sweepers, quick direction changes and long 'parabolica' corners, without any tight hairpins or stop-and-go sections to break up the flow. It is perhaps because of this that the Tuscan circuit is one of the riders' favourites. Mugello hosted its first GP in 1976 but did not become a permanent fixture on the calendar until major reconstruction works took place in the early 90s.

-credit: ducati

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Alex Barros , Jorge Lorenzo , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa