The Ducati MotoGP Team is preparing itself for one of the most popular events of the season for the teams, riders and fans this weekend, as the Grand Prix of Italy takes place at the Mugello circuit, located less than 90 kilometres from the factory’s headquarters in Borgo Panigale.
As has become tradition the factory’s red army of fans will again gather in the Ducati grandstand at the Correntaio corner for both qualifying and the race, with 3,000 of them giving their passionate support to both Casey Stoner and Marco Melandri.
Casey and Marco are both up for the challenge and are huge fans of the fast and technical circuit themselves, having both claimed podium finishes there in the smaller Grand Prix classes. Melandri took 250cc victory in 2002, having finished second in the 125cc race in ’98 and ’99, whilst Stoner took his maiden career pole in the 125cc class in 2003. He also finished second in the 250cc race in 2004 and just missed out on a MotoGP podium last season to fellow Ducati rider Alex Barros.
GABRIELE DEL TORCHIO, CEO Ducati Motor Holding
"Our home race at Mugello is upon us. It is always a very important occasion that traditionally brings together the Ducatisti and, as always, it will be a great party. We’re expecting to have a Ducati grandstand that is even redder and more passionate than ever! We will be supporting our riders and we will show that the spirit that drives Ducati Corse is the same as ever - one of fighting without ever giving up, even in times of adversity. In my opinion this spirit was perfectly demonstrated by our riders at Le Mans - by Casey pushing his bike back to the pits in an attempt to rejoin the race and Marco, who refused to throw the towel in after a problem at the start and ended up bringing a point home. The championship still has a long way to go and we’re just as aware of the strength of our rivals as we are of our own ability to fight for victory."
CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team
"Whenever anybody asks me which is my favourite track, other than my home track of Phillip Island, Mugello immediately springs to mind. It is a true racetrack - fast, technical and demanding because it requires a precise line otherwise you can lose a lot of time. Last year we missed the podium by a little bit but the race was still important because we learnt some things about the bike that helped us be competitive at the races that followed. This year we arrive on the back of a tough race, where we had a problem that prevented us from scoring a podium, but on the whole it was a positive weekend because we had a fast and consistent pace going during practice. Hopefully we can manage to be just as fast at Mugello but have a good race too - for the fans, who always create such a special atmosphere in Italy, but mainly for everybody at Ducati and the guys in the team, who are working so hard and deserve a top result."
MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati MotoGP Team
"I don’t think there are many tracks in the world that are as beautiful as Mugello and I’m sure the majority of riders would agree with me. It’s not just about the atmosphere and the fans, even though it is exciting to feel their presence and to see the grandstands packed out - as I’m sure the Ducati one will be. The track is enjoyable but demanding at the same time, with a long straight that isn’t perfectly straight! That makes it difficult, then you have a mixture of slow and fast corners, with fast changes of direction - you know when you are on a good lap. You have to be quick through the chicane and make sure you have good feeling with the front in order to be fast and aggressive. It is a circuit the Ducati technicians know well and where I hope we can have the chance to have a good race. I’d really like to do well in front of my home fans"