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Doohan gives views on MotoGP frontrunners

Doohan gives views on MotoGP frontrunners

Five-time premier class title winner Mick Doohan has given his views on some of the early contenders after an intriguing opening to the 2008 World Championship.

Having dominated the World Championship in the mid to late 1990s Australian former rider Mick Doohan knows MotoGP inside out and he is still a keen follower of the sport, enjoying the battles between the likes of his compatriot Casey Stoner, the current MotoGP title holder, and his talented Yamaha and Honda factory rivals.

The MotoGP Legend won 54 Grands Prix, securing a quintet of successive World Championships, before retiring early in 1999, and there are few better qualified to cover the subject of retaining the premier class crown. After seeing fellow Aussie Stoner make a mixed start to his title defence Doohan still expects the Ducati Marlboro rider to be right up there this season.

He told, `I haven´t spoken to Casey or anybody else at Ducati, so I really don´t know the problems that they are experiencing, but it is obvious that there is a problem there, be it with the tyres or the combination with some minor change that Ducati have made. You would think with how dominant Casey and the Ducati were last year that it can´t be long before they are back on track anyway.´

`Casey won the first race and at the last two he has struggled, but nothing is decided yet and there is still a long way to go in the championship,´ continued the 42 year-old. `I would imagine that they are working fairly hard to get back on top of things.´

Looking elsewhere, at the Fiat Yamaha factory team with whom double 250cc World Champion Jorge Lorenzo has made a sensational start to his MotoGP career, to lead the championship jointly after three races, Doohan said, `On the form over the past two years we have seen the good guys from the 250s come into the MotoGP class, they have adapted fairly well to the 800cc in particular. I think it reflects on how strong Lorenzo has been in the other classes, a bit like Valentino (Rossi) when he came into it.´

Further analysing the factors behind Lorenzo´s incredible first three races, Doohan went on to say, `Yamaha have stepped up the pressure to try and get back on top of things and Michelin have come out fighting which we always knew was going to be the case. So I think it´s a combination. The bike is giving him a lot of feeling and grip compared to the 250 and he is making the most of it. So far, so good, but he has still got a long way to go before you can disregard someone like his team-mate Valentino.´

Pressed for a prediction on whether this could be the year that Rossi reclaims the title which he - like Doohan - won for five years in a row before missing out for the last couple of seasons, the former premier class star commented, `It´s a crystal ball sort of question! It´s hard to say. It all depends on whether he can adapt the motorcycle to go the full distance on the tyres for the entirety of the race, or Bridgestone need to produce the tyres for him that are going to do so.´

`Being three races in when there are 18 in the season really anything is possible and I think we will get a clearer picture after another three races really.´

Highlighting the key role that his own former Chief Mechanic Jeremy Burgess plays in his current role working with Rossi, Doohan stated, `If Yamaha are committed to producing something you know Jeremy Burgess will be pushing 100% to keep Yamaha in the best possible position. If they listen to Jeremy, Valentino and Jorge Lorenzo there is no reason why they can´t be there. They are leading the championship with Honda and you would think they will want to build on that with another title with Valentino or Lorenzo.´

`All the manufacturers have the ability if they are driven in the right direction and I think Valentino and especially Jeremy, who has been around for a long time, know what the ingredients are to put together a winning team.

MotoGP, 2008, Mick Doohan

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