Phillip Island : Ducati - Preview
The Ducati Marlboro Team flies into Australia this week hopeful of another strong race following last Sunday's Marlboro Malaysian GP where Loris Capirossi finished a close second and Sete Gibernau took fifth in his comeback race following
a lengthy layoff.
Capirossi's sixth podium of the season, which followed a brilliant win at last month's Czech GP, moved him to within 43 points of the World Championship lead with four races to go. The Italian, who missed last year's Australian GP through injury, goes well at the track, having finished third and established a new lap record in 2004. Gibernau also loves the spectacular seaside venue - he took pole in 2004 and finished that race a very close second.
The weather will be a big topic of conversation this weekend because while temperatures hovered in the mid 30s at Sepang last weekend they may struggle to reach ten degrees on the island.
Loris Capirossi (4th overall, 171 points)
"The points gap is still big but the bike and tyres are good and I am feeling strong, so it's not impossible to win the championship. As they say, it's not over till it's over, we will do our best and see what happens. People talk about pressure but the pressure doesn't worry me. I've been racing in the World Championships for 17 years now, so I am used to this kind of situation! Normally when I'm under some strong pressure I become stronger, so I don't care about the pressure, it just makes me more focused."
"Phillip Island is a good track for us. I got the lap record in 2004 and although I got injured there last year I watched the rest of practice and all the racing from my hospital bed and I could see that Carlos (Checa, Capirossi's 2005 team- mate) was going really well. It's a very technical track where a good rider can really make the difference.
I'm expecting a close and exciting race, but I know that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us over the last four races."
Sete Gibernau (11th overall, 69 points)
"The weather is going to be very different from Sepang, but then you always expect to be surprised by the weather at Phillip Island. Hopefully I'll be a little bit stronger than I was last weekend and I'm really looking forward to getting some results at the last four races. We did preseason testing at the track which will help. It's one of those places where if I click it right away and feel comfortable I have a good weekend, but if I start without that boom I can struggle. It's a set-up thing, you need to have a good feeling for all those fast corners. If I'm not confident with the bike it's difficult to ride around the problems whereas at other tracks I can ride well even if the bike isn't perfect. You need a stable machine because there are a lot of direction changes, with the front wheel always in the air. There are some really fast corners and some heavy braking. The last corner is always important because it's where I judge whether I'm going to be okay for the whole lap."
Livio Suppo (Ducati MotoGP project manager)
"The weather looks like it will be pretty cold, though I hope not much colder than last year because otherwise things could be tricky. Race tyres need a minimum track temperature of around ten degrees to work properly and last year it was 12 degrees. We were very fast at Phillip Island last year and the year before. Even without Loris last time we got third with Carlos. We got into this race feeling confident, with Loris on incredible form and Sete feeling good after his superb comeback last Sunday."
THE TRACK – Phillip Island is the fastest MotoGP track and demands much of man, machine and tyres. There are three essentials for a good result at the Victorian state venue: guts, determination and a sweet-handling motorcycle. Most riders count the track as one of their favourites because unlike many modern circuits that have been built to contain the speed of F1 cars, the Island is dominated by super-quick curves that test rider skill and daring to the limit.
The Australian GP's only negative is the area's unsettled early spring weather that can whip up dangerously strong winds off the nearby Bass Strait. Situated 130 kilometres south east of Melbourne, Phillip Island hosted its first motorcycle races way back in the 1920s, when riders competed over a dusty 12-mile street circuit and the only access to the island was by boat! The circuit fell into disrepair but was redeveloped in the late 1980s and hosted Australia's first bike GP in 1989. Since then the circuit has been renowned for creating ultra-close racing action.