DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM MAKE SPRINGTIME TRIP TO MOTEGI The MotoGP World Championship heads to Japan this weekend for a rare springtime visit, with the Land of the Rising Sun set to welcome the teams and riders with its famous blossom sure to be in...
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM MAKE SPRINGTIME TRIP TO MOTEGI
The MotoGP World Championship heads to Japan this weekend for a rare springtime visit, with the Land of the Rising Sun set to welcome the teams and riders with its famous blossom sure to be in bloom. For several years now the Motegi circuit has been one of the final dates on the Grand Prix calendar and the scene of great drama, with both Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi winning the MotoGP title there over the past two seasons.
This year it plays host to the second round, following an eventful opening Grand Prix in Qatar, which turned into an unplanned 'long weekend'. Casey Stoner's outstanding victory and a determined display from Nicky Hayden, who recovered from a host of setbacks to battle from sixteenth on the grid to finish twelfth, got the team off to an impressive start that they will look to maintain on a very different kind of circuit.
The Ducati Marlboro Team has enjoyed some of its greatest successes at Motegi with a hat-trick of wins for Loris Capirossi between 2005 and 2007 and second place for Stoner in 2008 amongst the highlights. However, every season presents a brand new challenge and more so in 2009, with the host of new regulations that have been implemented. The one thing that doesn't change is the approach of the Ducati Marlboro Team technicians and riders, who will keep their feet planted firmly on the ground and give maximum concentration and effort to preparing for the race within the allotted time.
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
"Motegi is a circuit full of memories for us, from the first victory with Bridgestone in 2005 to the consecution of the title with Casey in 2007. This year we go there near the start of the season following an opening race that was fantastic for Casey and really tough for Nicky. We'll do our best to make sure we come away from this round with two happy riders!"
CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team (1st in championship, 25 points)
"I've finished on the podium in every class at Motegi (2nd in 2003 in 125, 3rd in 2005 in 250 and 2nd in 2008 in MotoGP) but there have been other times when things haven't gone so well. I have always thought that the track is more suited to car racing than bikes, with so many hard braking and acceleration points, but in general I don't dislike it and if you have a good set-up it can be really fun. We haven't tested here in preseason whereas we had in Qatar, so we'll see how we get on starting from zero, with less practice time available. I'm fairly confident, the set-up we found in testing has worked well at different kinds of circuits so we should have a decent base setting to work from at Motegi. In any case, we won't take anything for granted - we'll keep working hard together and stay focused."
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Marlboro Team (12th in championship, 4 points)
"My first GP with Ducati didn't exactly go as I'd hoped but we took some positives out of it -- I lapped quicker in the second half of the race than I had done all weekend and above all I felt comfortable on the bike. Hopefully this will help us work out what it is exactly that I need to improve my feeling with the bike because being so far off the pace in practice wasn't cool! Physically I'm okay -- no doubt the race was tough because I was pretty beaten up but I've recovered well and I don't expect to have any problems in Japan. I'll probably go to the Clinica on Thursday to have the stitches removed and that will be the end of the matter. I'm really keen to do well in this race and even though I've always had a kind of love-hate relationship with Motegi -- with some good results and some bad ones -- it is always a special Grand Prix."
The Twin Ring Motegi hosted the Grand Prix of Japan for the first time in 1999. From 2000 to 2003 it was known as the Pacific Grand Prix, before regaining its status as the home of MotoGP in Japan after Suzuka was adjudged to be too dangerous. Known as the "Twin Ring" because it incorporates an Indy-style oval as well as a MotoGP track, the circuit was built by Honda in 1998 to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary. It lies in hilly countryside to the north of Tokyo, between the cities of Mito and Utsonomiya, and features an ultra-modern and geometric design. The Twin Ring is very much a 'stop and go' track, with only a few fast corners and many slow ones -- linked together by medium-long straights that put the acceleration of the bikes to the test. A stable front suspension setting is crucial here, as is a good engine braking system.