Monza: Team Ducati preview

Team Ducati Fila aims for 200th Superbike win at Monza. The World Superbike Championship heads to the legendary Autodromo di Monza track close to Milan for the fourth round of this year's championship. The high-speed track, set amidst the...

Team Ducati Fila aims for 200th Superbike win at Monza.

The World Superbike Championship heads to the legendary Autodromo di Monza track close to Milan for the fourth round of this year's championship. The high-speed track, set amidst the splendid greenery of Monza's parkland area, is always the scene for epic, slipstreaming battles and this year promises to be no exception, with the Team Ducati Fila duo of Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus taking on the rest of the field with their Ducati 999 Factory '03 bikes, which will be making their first appearance on Italian ground.

Hodgson has a 100% record so far this year, taking a brace of wins at each of the three rounds in Spain, Australia and Japan. The British rider is currently dominating the championship with 150 points and aims to keep up the record at a circuit where he loves racing. "Monza has a lot of history and is a really cool place" declared Neil. "It's always difficult here because the bike must be stable, not nervous, for the high speeds but then you need to set it up to be nervous through the chicanes so it's all a bit of a compromise. We did some Michelin tyre testing at Ladoux and I've found something to make the bike stable under braking, that's what this place is all about. It feels like home to me and I know the Italian fans will be devastated if I don't win!".

Xaus has yet to score a win this year but a series of runner-up places means he is second in the championship on 106 points. "Monza's a great place to be" declared Ruben, "The atmosphere is great, it's a really fast track, and the races always offer plenty of slipstreaming action. My best position at Monza was a podium finish in a Supersport race, so I really want to win here and score my first win of the season on Sunday. Monza sees the start of the European races and the championship really gets underway here".

At the last round in Japan, Neil took Ducati's all-time World Superbike win total to 199, so the first of Sunday's two Monza races could see the Italian manufacturer reach the 200 mark. This remarkable figure is more than all the other manufacturers in WSBK put together and is testimony to 15 years of intense, direct and high-level involvement by Ducati in the prestigious production-based racing series.

CIRCUIT: The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is one of the world's oldest - and fastest - permanent racing circuits. It first opened for competition in 1922 and since then has held events of every form and discipline, including the famous Formula 1 Grand Prix race. The SBK World Championship Italian Round has been held successfully here since 1990 and last year attracted well over 90,000 spectators for what is one of the classic events on the Superbike calendar. The 5.793 km circuit has a total of 5 left and 8 right-hand corners (including a tricky first-gear chicane) and a finish-line straight of more than 1 km in length. Average lap speeds are close to 200 km/h.

TV COVERAGE : Eurosport (Europe) - Sunday 18 May, Race 1 1200 (live), Race 2 1900 (delayed). RAI (Italy) - Saturday 17 May, Superpole 1620 (highlights), Sunday 18 May, Race 1 1240 (delayed), Race 2 1705 (delayed).

THE STORM OF DESMOS: Sunday at Monza will also be a special occasion for the thousands of Ducati fans present at the circuit. The Italian manufacturer, in collaboration with World Superbike championship promoters FGSport, is offering spectators a once-in-a-lifetime chance of riding round the legendary Monza track on their very own Ducati streetbike in front of thousands of cheering fans. Riders in the Storm of Desmos parade will lap the track for twenty minutes with Ducati testers and employees and the laps will be broadcast live on national Italian television.

-tdf-

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Neil Hodgson , Ruben Xaus