“We have yet to win on home tarmac”
The Ducati Marlboro Team comes home to race in Italy for the second time this year, with Casey Stoner leading the MotoGP World Championship aboard his Desmosedici V4.
Winner of seven of the first 12 races so far this season, Stoner
arrives at Misano with an impressive 60 point lead in the 18-race series, but the stunningly fast Australian will be treating this race like any other - working to get the best out of his machine and aiming to score another victory on Sunday.
Team-mate Loris Capirossi will also be aiming for the best-possible result at Misano after a difficult race in the Czech Republic a fortnight ago. The Italian veteran is one of the few current riders who contested the last GP at Misano in 1993, when he finished second in the 250 race.
This weekend's Misano GP will be very different from the 1993 event because the circuit now runs in reverse direction. The venue will be essentially new to everyone, though Stoner and Capirossi did ride a couple of display laps during the hugely popular World Ducati Weekend in late June, with special dispensation from MotoGP race direction.
As is usual when riders have to acquaint themselves with a new circuit, an extra hour of free practice has been added to the Friday schedule from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project director
"As an Italian Factory it is always a special event for us to race in Italy and it is a dream for us to be going to Misano leading the World Championship. Although we are having a fantastic season we have yet to win a MotoGP race on home tarmac, so Casey and Loris will be doing their best on Sunday. Casey is doing a fantastic job at the moment, he really is an incredible rider, so talented and so focused, it is a real pleasure to work with him.
CASEY STONER, World Championship leader on 246 points
"Misano will be a strange race because nobody really knows what it will be like to race a MotoGP bike round there. Loris and I did two display laps at the World Ducati Weekend because the fans wanted to see the Desmosedici race bike. The track isn't too bad but I feel it needs to be improved because it's very bumpy, so it's going to be pretty loose on these bikes. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes, it could be good for us. I still want to try and win races, if we do good work in practice and we have a good rhythm, we will try and win, if not we will just do the best job we can. Every race now I feel less pressure because this season has been unbelievable for us, we've proven we're fast enough, we've already won a few races and we've got a bigger points advantage. I'm already very happy with the season, so I don't feel any more pressure. We're getting the results because we all work really hard: Ducati and the team work hard, Bridgestone works hard, I give them good information and I've been training really hard off the track."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 9th overall on 87 points
"The last time I rode at Misano was in 1993, that's many, many years ago and everything is different now. Last time there I rode a 250, this time I ride a MotoGP bike, and now the track goes right instead of left. I did a couple of display laps on the Desmosedici at the World Ducati Weekend in June and before that I rode a lap or two with a Ducati 1098 streetbike when I inspected the track with Valentino [Rossi] for the Safety Commission. The layout is completely different from when I last raced there and I don't think it will be easy, especially on a MotoGP bike. We have an extra hour of practice on Friday to help us understand the circuit a bit better because the layout is very technical with a lot of tight turns. It's great to have a Grand Prix at Misano once again because everyone in the Emilia Romagna region loves motorcycles so the atmosphere should be huge. Of course it's another race in front of the Italian fans and I want to do really well. As always I will do my best and we will be looking for a podium result on Sunday."