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Ducati heads to China full of high expectations

Ducati heads to China full of high expectations

Ducati heads to China full of high expectations

The Ducati Marlboro team heads to the People's Republic of China this week boosted by some promising performances at the recent Portuguese GP, where Checa scored the team's first front-row start of the season and came close to securing fourth place in the rain-affected race.

Checa and Capirossi both started the season's opening two races carrying injuries but should be fully fit for Shanghai, where they have high hopes of running up front in China's first motorcycle GP.

Carlos Checa's storming ride to fifth place in treacherous damp conditions at Estoril proved his fast-improving pace on his Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP5. The Spaniard had already shown excellent form in qualifying, taking third place on the grid, just 0.254 seconds off pole position. He fought well during the race, recovering from a sluggish first few laps to briefly take fourth place, eventually finishing fifth.

"We can consider that fifth-place finish to be a positive result," said Checa, who was riding with some discomfort in the left shoulder he dislocated during preseason testing.

"Now all I want to do is continue moving forward. Every race I learn a lot more about the bike and Shanghai will be especially interesting because it's a new track, so things will be more equal for everyone. I watched a few laps of last year's F1 race and the track looks very impressive. But at the end of the day all tracks are the same - just straights and corners!

"I'm looking forward to my first visit to China. I always like to move about and discover new cultures. I expect there'll be a big crowd, everyone seems to ride bikes in China, so I hope we can entertain them."

Team-mate Loris Capirossi also endured a difficult start to his 2005 MotoGP campaign, contesting the back-to-back Spanish and Portuguese GPs with a cracked bone in his left ankle. But the gritty Ducati Marlboro Team man reckons he should be 100 per cent fit for China.

"I know that the bike is working very well now, so I'm really looking forward to riding it fully fit," says Capirossi. "We are making plenty of useful progress, working on suspension, engine mapping and tyre development. I think we will soon be fighting up front once again.

"Shanghai should be an incredible weekend. I watched last year's F1 race on TV and the track looks interesting. It looks quite different from a lot of the tracks we use; I just hope that the surface is good. The first corner looks very strange - it's very, very long, so it'll be almost like riding around a roundabout.

"I always like new tracks, and we have three this year - Shanghai, Istanbul and Laguna. I've been to Laguna before but I've only ever ridden 125s and 250s there, so it'll definitely be a new track on a MotoGP bike."

With this weekend being the first time the Shanghai circuit will feature in the MotoGP calendar, the track is still an unknown entity for all of the riders. With the very first records still to be set, and all of the mysteries of the Shanghai circuit still to be revealed, it should to be an interesting weekend.

"This event is definitely something very special," says Ducati Marlboro Team MotoGP project manager Livio Suppo. "MotoGP has never been to China before, it's a fascinating country, with an incredible history and an exciting future. However, it's difficult to predict the outcome of this race because none of the MotoGP teams have been to the track before.

"All we know is that Shanghai is a very impressive venue, with a massive infrastructure and an interesting-looking track. We're looking forward to the event because both our riders enjoy discovering new tracks: Carlos took pole at Qatar last year and Loris is always quick to learn his way around new circuits."


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