“All we can do is take it race by race”
The Fiat Yamaha Team make the Mediterranean road trip from the east coast of Italy to the west coast of Portugal this week aiming to put their biggest disappointment of the season behind them after a home Grand Prix to forget at
Valentino Rossi's retirement from that race was his fourth non-podium finish in as many races - his worst run since 2000 - whilst tyre problems returned to haunt Colin Edwards in a race that saw Casey Stoner take his eighth victory of the season.
With 85 points now separating Stoner from Rossi at the top of the championship and just five races remaining it appears that the 2007 is almost out of reach, but until the mathematics confirm it the Fiat Yamaha Team will refuse to wave the white flag - especially with a circuit like Estoril on the horizon.
Its location on the western tip of Europe, just seven kilometres from the Atlantic coast, makes it vulnerable to dramatic changes in weather and high gusts of wind, meaning the riders can take nothing for granted.
Even the layout of Autodromo Fernanda Pires de Silva circuit is one of extreme contrasts. It features one of the longest main straights in MotoGP and a tight chicane, which is one of the slowest corners on the calendar. Several other twisty sections contribute to the lowest average speed in the championship and the throttle is seldom overworked on the tortuous infield sections, which are riddled by a host of second and third gear bends. However, the 200km/h kink at turn five and the final Parabolica corner are two of the toughest tests of any rider and machine's cornering prowess and make for exciting viewing.
Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio is remaining upbeat despite recognising the size of the challenge that lies ahead over the next five races.
With an 85-point gap to the championship summit, Brivio admits that the title is a fading target and says the more immediate concern is to get Rossi and Edwards back at the business end of the field after a run of four races without a podium.
"It's not over yet but we know that a gap of 85 points to such a strong rival package will be very, very difficult to recover", admits Brivio. "All we can do is take it race by race and try to put Valentino and Colin in a position to fight for race victories and podiums as soon as possible. That will be our goal for Estoril, where we have been very competitive in the past with both riders.”
"First of all we have to hope that the tyres are competitive and from there on we can try. The test at Misano was positive so hopefully that improved performance carries over to Estoril. We know we have a rider who is capable of winning races and he deserves to be winning much more than he is now so we can only try our best to give him the equipment he needs to do that."