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Ducati hope for more dry time in France

Ducati hope for more dry time in France

Ducati hope for more dry time in France

The Ducati Marlboro Team arrive at Le Mans this weekend hoping, above all, for conditions that will help them develop their Desmosedici GP4 machine and turn around what has so far been a disappointing start to 2004. After two rounds of last season Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss were placed seventh and fourth respectively in the rider standings, but this time around find themselves in eighth and eighteenth after bad luck in the rain-lashed race at Jerez two weeks ago compounded a miserable start to the season at Welkom.

The pair have struggled to set up the GP4 in the dry conditions although they did make progress in the Spanish rain – Bayliss was fastest in wet morning warm-up and was also one of the quickest men on the circuit when he fell on the second lap - and in mixed conditions during a two day test after the Grand Prix.

"Jerez wasn't easy," admitted Team Director Livio Suppo. "In racing you get weekends like that. The main thing is that team morale is high, and we did take away some positives from Jerez, like Troy's speed in the wet, plus what we learned during two days of testing after the race. Last season we showed our potential at a lot of racetracks and we are determined to show it again."

Technical Director Corrado Cecchinelli believes that Le Mans should suit the GP4 better than Jerez. "I think the new bike is already better than last year's at stop-and-go tracks like Le Mans, which is basically a sequence of straights interrupted by mostly slow, 180-degree hairpins," he says.

"The GP4 worked well during winter tests at Valencia, which is also quite stop and go. The bike still isn't perfect in fast corners but it is good in slower corners. The main thing we are working on now is front-end confidence, so that our riders can really attack high-speed corners.

"During our Jerez tests we worked on weight distribution, engine management and some new Michelin race tyres. We also did some important work with Loris and Michelin's 16.5in front tyre which improved his feel for the bike."

MotoGP, 2004

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