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MotoGP riders face the press in Qatar

MotoGP riders face the press in Qatar

MotoGP riders face the press in Qatar

After a thrilling season-opener in Jerez, this weekend sees the MotoGP teams head to the Losail Circuit for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar for the second race of 2006.

With the race taking place on Saturday, the usual schedule for a race weekend has been moved forward by a day. This means that free practice sessions start as of tomorrow, and that the customary press conference was brought forward to today.

Due to Casey Stoner's being delayed in Vienna with flight problems, it was a group of four who faced the media this afternoon. Loris Capirossi, winner in Jerez, sat alongside Dani Pedrosa, Toni Elias and Harald Eckl answering questions ahead of this week's Grand Prix.

Capirossi, who yesterday celebrated his 33rd birthday, was in positive spirits. With both him and his Ducati team sitting pretty at the top of the classification for the first time, the Italian rider gave his thoughts on the coming race at a circuit where he didn´t test during the preseason. He emphasised the importance of Bridgestone`s work, and proclaimed himself to be confident.

"It's not a difficult track, and temperatures are much better for us than before. We haven't tested here during the winter, but we sent people here and worked with Bridgestone. You need good tyres for every race, and we will be testing some more out tomorrow. I'm quite confident."

The sensation of the previous race, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa will be experiencing his first Grand Prix away from his home country. It will be a very different occasion for the young rookie, although how the comparative lack of pressure will affect his riding remains to be seen.

"Here will be quite different from Jerez. We didn't test here, so it'll be the first time setting up the machine for this circuit. Definitely more complicated than in Jerez. I think we just have to continue going step by step."

Another young Spaniard who impressed in Jerez, Toni Elias comes to Qatar on the back of a fourth place at the Andalusian track. A first corner collision with Valentino Rossi is an incident that the Honda rider will want to erase from his mind as he looks to continue his good performances.

"I felt a bit nervous in Jerez, and I made two mistakes. First with Valentino on the first corner, then on the last turn I hit the grass. I don't like the Losail Circuit, it's a difficult set-up."

Kawasaki Team Manager Harald Eckl was the experienced hand in today's press conference, and described his happiness with a team who performed strongly in preseason and qualified well in Jerez.

"We expected better results for the first race of the season, having been surprised by our preseason performances. It's a pressure for us, but a pleasant kind. We like this kind of competition. This circuit wasn't one that Shinya or Randy tested on, but we sent Olivier Jacque here to test and learnt a lot from that."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, COMMERCIALBANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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