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Qatari GP: Ducati preview

The 62nd edition of the MotoGP World Championship fires up on the 11th April and for the third consecutive season the curtain raiser will take place at night, under floodlights, in Qatar. The Ducati Marlboro Team
head to Losail confident in the work they have done during winter testing but well aware that the competition is tough and the level even higher than ever.

Both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden have shown their appreciation for the technical modifications brought to the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 by Filippo Preziosi, in particular the new "big bang" engine. Both riders are looking to repeat their excellent preseason form when they take to the Losail circuit for the first time on Friday evening, as the 2010 season finally roars into life.

CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team
"We have always enjoyed great results in Qatar although the track isn't one of my favourites as a rider. It was good that they changed the race from daytime to night because they've made it different to anything else -- it's interesting for the fans and it is good fun for us. Ducati have come up with a much more manageable engine for this season, it is easier for everybody to understand and from my point of view I am finding it easier to ride fast on used tyres. We have made progress with the set-up ever since the first test at Sepang and we're happy with what we have going into the first race. I will give my maximum as always but it is only the first race of a very long season that will only start to take shape from the third or fourth round."

NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Marlboro Team
"Finally the first race is here! We seem to have started later than everybody else and I don't know if I could have waited any longer! Testing went fairly well -- we met some of our objectives and still have a lot of work to do in other areas but overall I'm satisfied. We established a good base setting in Qatar and hopefully we can use that for the first race. It has been a couple of years since I made a good start to the season but I feel in good shape, the team are fully behind me and I can't wait to get started."

"The past few months have flown by for me, especially because the 2009 season was barely over when we began working at full speed on the new engine and all the other new parts that have been added to the new bike. Our riders are both in good form -- Casey has finally been able to enjoy a quiet winter without injuries to overcome and he has been fast throughout testing. Nicky has had some good tests, especially the last two sessions, and he is perfectly integrated into our working group. Now is the time for us to put it all onto the track for the first race but I'm confident in the work we have done so far."


Losail, a fast and flowing but flat track with a long 1.1km start-finish straight, is located on the outskirts of the Qatari capital of Doha and is hosting the opening round of the MotoGP season for the third year in a row. The first race there was in 2004 and it took place in October, as it did the following season, when the torrid late summer temperatures made life extremely difficult for the riders, tyres and machinery. In 2006 the date was switched to the cooler springtime, throwing up a different challenge in the shape of high winds that bring sand onto the track surface and significantly alter grip levels. The asphalt itself provides better grip now but the sand is still an issue. The next major change to the conditions came three years ago, when the race was switched to a night start, making for a cooler track and reduced visibility for the riders. However, the work done in illuminating the circuit was exceptional, with a floodlight system powered by 5.4 million watts covering an area equivalent to 70 soccer pitches -- reaching a safe level of visibility for the riders and offering a stunning viewing spectacle to the fans. The last year a torrential rain forced the postponement of the race by 24 hour.

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     Rizla Suzuki Qatar test notes day two
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