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Ducati boss Livio Suppo on Valencia tests, Rossi and winter plans

Ducati boss Livio Suppo on Valencia tests, Rossi and winter plans

Ducati boss Livio Suppo on Valencia tests, Rossi and winter plans

A busy and successful first year for the factory Ducati team finally came to a conclusion last week at the Valencia tests where Troy Bayliss, Loris Caprirossi and back-up rider Vitto Guareschi were going the final set of technical updates for 2003. grabbed a few words with team director Livio Suppo to ask what they were up to.

"We are testing a mix between 2003 and 2004 machinery. Troy and Loris are mainly using the 2003 spec with some updates and new parts," he revealed. "We are very happy with what we achieved this season. Now and for the future we are looking to work on the bike as a complete package. We do not feel that we missed one thing on the engine, frame or suspension. It is the general balance of the bike and what we can adjust here and there to win a few tenths of a second. If the parts tested by Vitto work well then we'll progress on the development with Troy and Loris."

Concerning the current attention several of the teams are giving to Michelin's 16.5" front tyre, Suppo hinted that this could be an important focus for the Ducati set-up.

"We are working hard with the 16.5 front at the moment as are most of the teams," he offered. "Michelin seem to think this is the direction in which to head and Loris was running a lot of laps in Valencia. This is probably where will work because the tyres are so important but, as is normal at this time of year, people are experimenting to see what suits them and developing the best tyres possible."

Ducati were one of the teams linked with the services of World Champion Valentino Rossi after his split with Honda but Suppo is quick to dispel the notion that negotiations were heading in their direction.

"The rumours about Valentino were very good for the advertising and profile of the team! But Loris and Troy were always going to be our only riders; there was never any doubt about that. We wanted an experienced MotoGP rider and with Loris we are more than happy and we wanted someone with Superbike experience and who was a Ducati man and in that we have Troy. It is a very effective combination. We have a great chance to be successful next year but it will be hard because they will be more riders fighting for the win; I confidently expect Troy and Loris to be among those.
If Valentino had not been on the Honda then we would have taken three races in our first season because Loris won in Barcelona and finished second twice. We know the Championship will be more balanced now that Valentino has left Honda and the playing field is more level. Honda will have six riders out there for 2004 and we know their bike is good so for sure they will be our main competitors."

Now the Ducati staff are preparing to enjoy the Christmas holidays but work begins again in Italy again early January with the blood-red machines set to appear on track some weeks later.

"In the middle of February will be the first main test for the riders with the 2004 bikes at Sepang," concluded Suppo. "That same month we go to Phillip Island then we move to Valencia again at the beginning of March and finally we are into the IRTA test."

MotoGP, 2003, Valentino Rossi

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