DUCATI MOTOGP TEAM HEAD FOR TRANSCONTINENTAL TRIPLE-HEADER The Ducati MotoGP Team travel to the Motegi circuit this week for the first of three rounds outside Europe as the MotoGP World Championship visits Japan, Australia and Malaysia during...
DUCATI MOTOGP TEAM HEAD FOR TRANSCONTINENTAL TRIPLE-HEADER
The Ducati MotoGP Team travel to the Motegi circuit this week for the first of three rounds outside Europe as the MotoGP World Championship visits Japan, Australia and Malaysia during the space of just four weeks. Exactly one year ago, in September 2007, Ducati were celebrating at the circuit north of Tokyo thanks to a first MotoGP title for Casey Stoner and a race victory for Loris Capirossi.
This year the Australian arrives at the Grand Prix of Japan lying second in the championship standings behind Valentino Rossi, with a slender chance of keeping his title hopes alive over the final four races. However, Stoner's never-say-die attitude will ensure that he keeps fighting until mathematically out of the running.
Marco Melandri is also hopeful of a top result at a circuit where Ducati has celebrated victory for the past three seasons.
LIVIO SUPPO, Marlboro Project Director
"Motegi is a circuit with so many great memories for us. The first victory with Bridgestone in 2005, which came so many months after our first outright victory in MotoGP at Barcelona in 2003, has particular significance. Then there was the victory in 2006, when Loris was fighting for the title, and of course last year. It was entirely down to Loris because he picked the perfect moment to change bikes and take his third straight win there on the same day Casey was crowned World Champion! All in all, Motegi is a special place for us and even though we go there not in as good shape as last year there are still four races left and we're glad that one of them is at this track."
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
2nd in the championship 200 points (-87)
"I've had a mixed bag of results at Motegi - some good, some bad. Obviously the best memory is of last year with the title victory but as always I prefer to look to the future rather than reflect on the past. The track has always given me the impression that it is more suited to cars than bikes because it is full of hard braking and acceleration zones and there aren't many flowing sections. Anyway, it is a fun track and I think it can be good for our bike and tyres. The wrist hasn't given me great problems over the last week and seems to be improving on the last couple of weeks so I can't wait to get back on the bike and try to get a better result than we've managed lately."
MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
15th in the championship on 48 points (-239)
"Motegi isn't a bad circuit, in fact I like it quite a lot. It is an unusual layout - it doesn't flow and is more of a 'stop and go' track. The surface is really good and I always enjoy riding here. The race at Indy was particularly difficult and I'm sure we can do much better than that. Of course I don't expect the final four races to be easy but I hope I can manage to finish the season with a decent run of form. Every GP is a different story so I hope that at Motegi, where Ducati have won for the last three seasons, things go really well."
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.
Circuit Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha - 2006) 1'47.288 - 161.095 km/h
Best Pole: Loris Capirosso (Ducati - 2006) 1'45.724 - 163.478 km/h
Circuit Length: 4.801km
MotoGP Race 2008: 24 laps
MotoGP Timetable 2008: 14:00 CET +8