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Luís D´Antín hoping to head a surprise challenge in MotoGP

Luís D´Antín hoping to head a surprise challenge in MotoGP

Luís D´Antín hoping to head a surprise challenge in MotoGP

Since last November, when Luis d´Antín announced an agreement Ducati Corse to run the Italian factory's only satellite team in the MotoGP World Championship, work at his Spanish team's headquarters has been unrelenting. After intense tests at Valencia, Sepang and Phillip Island designed at integrating the new machines and riders into the team's structure, the former Grand Prix rider explained his reflections from the past three months and his hopes for the upcoming season to

"We have got through a fair amount of work but we still have a lot more to do," commented the Spaniard. "The team has adapted well to the change of factorys and to having two riders instead of just one. A major job has been done, a lot of technical difficulties have been ironed out and we are ahead of where we expected to be at this point so, undoubtedly, we are pleased with our progress.

"Our two riders, Neil Hodgson and Rubén Xaus, are completely different – in terms of character and riding style they are the north and the south – but they are both responding very well to what is expected of them. After the first shakedown at we have tested at Sepang and Phillip Island and at each session we have met our expectations.

"It is true that at Sepang we had a few technical problems and then had some difficulties with the tyres in Australia, but looking at the times we weren't too far off. We need to make some more steps forward but we feel we can deliver more than the odd surprise in this championship and give the fans plenty to cheer about. Right now our objective is to be ready for the first Grand Prix – qualifying sessions are when we need fast laps but we are not focussed on that just yet. I think that once the season is underway, the first two races at Welkom and Jerez will show us where we really are.

"We have the official tests remaining at Barcelona and Jerez to continue with our development work. The tests will give us a reference, but I don't think it will be the defining reference in terms of where everybody is in relation to everybody else. That depends a lot on what the teams bring to the tests and how much the riders want to show. Obviously at the moment the reference is Honda – the reference is always the winning rider. Last year that man was Rossi... this year we don't know who it will be. We will have to wait and find out.

"I think that there are as many as fourteen riders who have the means and the riding pedigree to make regular podium appearances. We have the current World Superbike Champion and the runner-up in our team, so obviously our objective is not fourteenth place, but at the same time people should be aware that the current level in MotoGP is very high and even the slightest error, a small mistake in the setting of the bike for example, can make you lose many positions.

"Looking at our relationship with Ducati, you could say that we are ‘Just Married'. We all need a bit of time to see what we can bring to the factory and for them to see our way of working so that the best means of communication between the two parties can be established. In terms of size, Ducati is not like the big Japanese factories, but they more than make up for that with great passion and an intense desire to win. They are here to win and that has to benefit us in the long run".

MotoGP, 2003

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