SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI TEAM HOPE FOR HOME ADVANTAGE AT MUGELLO The San Carlo Honda Gresini Team make the short trip from their Faenza base to the Mugello circuit in Tuscany this week for the Italian Grand Prix, a home race that both Toni Elias...
SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI TEAM HOPE FOR HOME ADVANTAGE AT MUGELLO
The San Carlo Honda Gresini Team make the short trip from their Faenza base to the Mugello circuit in Tuscany this week for the Italian Grand Prix, a home race that both Toni Elias and Alex De Angelis are hoping can prove to be the turning point in a season that has yet to wield the results the team anticipated. After four rounds the pair lay eleventh and twelfth respectively in the championship but they could propel themselves up the standings with a solid points haul this weekend.
De Angelis scored three podiums in the 250cc class at Mugello and was one of the star performers in the MotoGP race last year, delighting over 90,000 home fans with an incredible charge through the field to clinch fourth place -- the best result of his rookie season. Despite dropping to fourteenth in the first corner he quickly made up ground with a string of brave overtaking manoeuvres, his incredible pacesetting form in warm-up carrying into the race as he charged past ten riders in the opening nine laps.
Mugello has not traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Elias, who has a best finish of sixth here in the MotoGP class. However, the Spaniard is optimistic of returning to his best form in Italy after spending the last week undergoing intense physiotherapy on his right forearm, which was operated on to cure an arm-pump problem before the last round at Le Mans - severely restricting his chances in the French race.
MotoGP has been visiting Mugello since 1976, when Barry Sheene took victory in the Grand Prix of Nations. The most decorated riders to leave Scarperia are Mick Doohan (six) and Valentino Rossi (seven). The Australian was unbeaten there between 1993 and 1998, whilst the Italian is unbeaten from the 2002. As well as the Grand Prix of Italy and the Grand Prix of Nations (in 1976, 1978 and 1985) Mugello has also hosted the Grand Prix of San Marino (in 1982, 1984, 1991, and 1993).
#24 TONI ELIAS
"I'll be in much better physical shape at Mugello. Since Le Mans I've been undergoing physiotherapy twice a day so the arm feels much better. Hopefully my strength is back too because I need to be riding this bike on the limit in order for us to make the necessary progress with the set-up. We have making gradual progress since the start of the season and have taken positive lessons out of every race, so I really hope this weekend we can make that definitive step in quality that will propel us into the battle at the front. This is the team's home race so it is important we put on a good show in front of the Italian fans and it would be fitting if this was the turning point for our season."
#15 ALEX DE ANGELIS
"Things haven't gone our way recently but the Grand Prix of Italy is a special occasion for us and I am determined to turn things around. The new setting we gambled with in the second half of the race at Le Mans worked well so hopefully we can take some positives to Mugello and start out with a good base setting on Friday afternoon, which is what we really need. I was on the podium at this circuit for three seasons in a row in the 250cc class before moving up to MotoGP and I had the best race of my rookie season last year, when I finished fourth. It would be great to put on a show like that again because even though my real 'home race' is in San Marino I have a lot of fans at Mugello too and I want to do well for them. I'm sure their presence will give me a little extra motivation to produce my absolute maximum."
FAUSTO GRESINI -- TEAM MANAGER
"Mugello is a circuit where both our riders can do well so hopefully we can step up our performance on all levels this weekend. Toni showed great spirit to fight through the pain barrier at Le Mans and his physical condition has improved a lot since then, so we're looking forward to seeing him back to his best. Alex will have a lot of home support, which should give him a boost, but the most important thing is for him to find a comfortable setting for the bike, which he hasn't really had since the first race in Qatar, when we saw what he is capable of when things are right. The Grand Prix of Italy is a very important event for the whole team. Racing in Italy always provides extra emotion and motivation and there will be no lack of that from our staff."