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Ducati looking forward to fresh start

Ducati looking forward to fresh start

Ducati looking forward to fresh start

Ducati Marlboro Team staff and riders alike are looking forward to a fresh start at Qatar next weekend, a new challenge for everybody involved in the MotoGP World Championship. None of the riders have ridden the impressive new track, which means they will all start from zero when practice commences on Thursday.

Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss hope that this new beginning will help them leave behind the atrocious luck that has dogged them for much of this season. The pair have been fast at the last few races but ill luck has consistently prevented them from scoring the results the whole team deserves.

"There's no doubt that our bikes are now competitive and much, much better than they were earlier in the season," says Ducati Marlboro Team director Livio Suppo. "But in recent months we have lacked the luck to prove that, I'm sure we would already have scored a few podiums if we had been a little more fortunate.

"At Motegi we really thought we might have our best results of the season, even though we had a tough time there the previous year. Loris was very fast in practice and warm-up and Troy was fast in the race, but it all came to nothing.

"Despite that we are confident of going well at Losail. It's a new circuit for everyone, so we'll all start from the same level. We know we have good bikes and riders - sooner or later the luck must arrive."

Only one man in the MotoGP paddock had ridden Losail before the MotoGP circus arrived for the historic event. Randy Mamola, winner of 13 500 GPs, who retired from racing at the end of 1992, rode the Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici two-seater bike at the track opening ceremony on July 9th, giving local VIPs and dignitaries some all-action outings on the bike.

"It's amazing how much everyone in Qatar seems to be into the idea of having World Championship bike racing in their country," says Mamola. "They've made an incredible effort with the track. It's wide, born with safety in mind and it's got lots of interesting corners to keep riders busy. The straight is fast - the bikes should do over 320kmh - and there's plenty of great turns."

Capirossi is battling to be fully fit for the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar. A multiple pile-up at the first corner at Motegi left the Italian with a fractured bone in his right foot, the foot he uses to control rear-wheel braking aboard his Desmosedici GP4.

"I have been undergoing plenty of therapy for the foot, so hopefully it won't be a problem in Qatar," said Capirossi. "Anyway, it's going to be an interesting weekend for everyone because none of us knows anything about the track. Also, it's our first GP in the desert, so we know the heat will make it a tough race.

"But the fact that it's a brand-new circuit isn't a concern - one hour is usually enough to learn somewhere new.

"These three back-to-back races aren't a problem because we're getting used to doing so much riding in a short time. The only worry is picking up an injury that might slow you at the next two races or even force you to miss them."

Bayliss is also hoping for a strong ride in Qatar after running out of luck at Motegi last weekend. The Australian was enjoying a furious ride through the pack - after losing time in the first-corner melee that claimed his team-mate - and had worked his way up to fifth when he slid off without injury.

"That crash was a real shame, because I know I was riding well," said Bayliss. "I'd got held up when all those guys went down at the first turn and was working my way forward when I just slid off. Since then I've been training like mad to make sure I make up for it at Qatar.

"I've no real idea what Losail will be like but the map makes it look like it's a flowing track, which is good. And it's nice for me to go somewhere that no one else knows; since I started MotoGP I've been racing at loads of places I don't really know, while the other guys have been racing them for years. Hopefully the track won't be too sandy."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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