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On-form Ducati prepare for French challenge

On-form Ducati prepare for French challenge

Ducati Marlboro head to Le Mans this week with rider Casey Stoner at the top of the tree in the MotoGP World Championship.

Ducati Marlboro head to Le Mans this week with rider Casey Stoner at the top of the tree in the MotoGP World Championship. The team have four podiums to their name thus far in 2006 - with three wins for Stoner from the opening four races - and will now attempt to build on that success at the track where Loris Capirossi finished second last year.

Livio Suppo, Ducati MotoGP project manager, has seen the combination of his riders, the Desmosedici GP7 and Bridgestone tyres work wonders so far in 2007, although he is well aware of the task ahead.

Suppo commented: "We go to France in the same frame of mind - taking each race as it comes and aiming to do the best job we can. Le Mans won't be easy, traditionally it's been a Yamaha circuit, Valentino Rossi was super fast there last year until his engine broke and he was also very strong at the last race at Shanghai. The Ducati and the Bridgestone tyres are working well, Casey is riding superbly and we know Loris rode an excellent race in France last year, so we hope he will fight for the podium again, just like he did in Turkey last month. Really, the season has only just started, so we must keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard."

Leading the way after the opening quartet of races, Casey Stoner has established himself as an early title contender in the premier class. The Australian has history on his side, with a precedent of 28 occasions where a rider has had the same record of three wins from the first four races of the season and gone on to World Championship glory.

"So far, this season is pretty much a dream come true. Now we've got to keep our heads down, make sure we don't get too confident, keep putting in the hard work and maybe things will pay off," said the 21 year old.

"In China everything worked out just perfectly again, though it was a very, very difficult race. We'll have to wait and see what happens at Le Mans. I've always been around fourth there, in fact I've finished fourth three times from the last four years. You really need a bike that's very good on the brakes, if you don't have that you can pretty much forget it. At the same time you need a bike that hooks up on the exits of the slow corners, because there's a lot of stop-start onto big straights. Le Mans is definitely for the brave with a lot of out-braking going on, plus there's a few good chicanes to sort people out. I normally go well there in practice, I just don't get it right in the race, maybe this year we can change that."

Not a fan of the historic Le Mans circuit, Loris Capirossi has been on the podium three times previously in France. The chance to start his season in earnest, along with the opportunity to win his first MotoGP race on French soil, are offered to him this weekend.

"I haven't had the luckiest start to this season but I am really looking forward to all the races coming up because I know they will give me a chance to get some points back," said the Italian veteran. "Casey has proved that the GP7 is a winning machine and this year's Bridgestone tyres are very good, so I am confident I can perform well over the next few races. We just need to keep working and continue to improve my feeling with the bike, which I really enjoy riding. I don't love the Le Mans circuit, even though I had a great race there last year. It is a very stop-and-go track, not very technical, so it's not a lot of fun to ride a MotoGP bike there, I think it's better suited to 250s and 125s. But I believe the GP7 should perform well at Le Mans because acceleration and braking are the two most important things at this circuit and our bike is strong in both these areas."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, ALICE GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE

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