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US GP: Ducati preview
DUCATI TAKE TO THE SKIES FOR NINTH ROUND OF THE SEASON

The USGP is without doubt one of the biggest dates on the calendar for Ducati and its two riders. For Nicky Hayden the Laguna Seca circuit is one of two home races this season, as well as being the scene of his first ever

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MotoGP win in 2005 - a success he repeated in 2006 on his way to the world title.

It is also one of Casey Stoner's favourite dates on the calendar, thanks largely to the nature of the circuit - an old-style layout that follows the natural undulations of the land as opposed to the computer-designed modern tracks. The Australian, who travels to America on the back of three consecutive podiums, took victory in California in 2007 and finished second the following year.

CASEY STONER, Ducati Team
"Laguna is a circuit I have always liked because it's tough but great fun and it follows the natural undulations and direction changes of the land. I also enjoy the raucous but respectful atmosphere that the American fans provide. Naturally I am looking for a good result but I don't want to make any predictions because recently we have been close to the front without managing to finish with the result we want. We're not far off - we just need a little more grip, stability under braking and handling, which would give us the extra tenth or two we're missing. It is not much but at the level we're at it will be noticeable. We'll see what happens but the objective is to improve on what we have done so far."

NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
"I can't wait to get to Laguna, a circuit that is extremely special to me. It is tough but really nice and it is where I won my first GP. I'm not just saying it because I'm American but it really is a unique place. There isn't really a straight - all the corners run into each other and they are a mixture of fast and slow bends. The Corkscrew is unique, a three-storey drop with a blind entry - you feel like you're taking off into space. Another thing about Laguna is that you can't afford to run off line at any point because the exit to one corner is the entry to the next and you have to get your line right. At Sachsenring we had a tough weekend but recovered in the race and found a good feeling for the bike. That makes me confident for this weekend."

VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
"I can't wait to get to Laguna Seca, a fascinating circuit where both Casey and Nicky have won in the past. Obviously the level of the championship is very high and it is particularly difficult to get a top result at the moment but the team has been working well and we are making constant improvements with the set-up of our bikes. Both riders have a good feeling with them at the moment, especially with the front-end, which is important at Laguna. This is Nicky's home race, which will give him another boost, whilst Casey comes on the back of three podiums and determined to improve so I'm sure both riders can do well on Sunday."

THE TRACK
Laguna Seca played host to the US Grand Prix on six occasions between 1988 and 1994 before being removed from the calendar. A series of major structural improvements to the facility saw the World Championship return in 2005, although only for the MotoGP class. The track, which flows around the undulating hills on the outskirts of Monterey, is most famous for the Corkscrew, a tight and spectacular left-right downhill chicane. In fact, the entire circuit is a rollercoaster ride, with a few short straights and a series of fast corners and elevation changes that often leave the front wheel pawing at the air. The 3.610km track is the perfect amphitheatre for the fans and is surprisingly straightforward in terms of machine set-up, with little opportunity to maximise full throttle. Frequent downhill braking zones put extra stress on the front end and make tyre wear a crucial factor.



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