Ducati MotoGP team ready for another huge challenge
Following on from a fruitful day of testing after the second round of the season at Jerez, which allowed the Ducati MotoGP Team to resolve some of the problems experienced during the weekend in Spain, the riders and staff are now ready to tackle the third instalment of 2008 at the Estoril circuit in Portugal.
The Autodromo Fernando Pires de Silva is notorious for its lack of grip and it promises to be another tough challenge for the team. However, the technicians and riders are as prepared as always to give 100% at a circuit where Casey Stoner overcame a problematic race to seal a crucial podium last year, when Marco Melandri crossed the line in fifth place.
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
"Estoril is always a difficult circuit to visit because the weather can change very quickly and the wind is an almost constant nuisance for the riders. I think the weather could prove to be the most important variable this weekend but it will be the same for everybody! The test on Monday after the GP at Jerez was positive for both Casey and Marco. Working together with Bridgestone they came up with some new solutions that Casey liked and we think they’ll be a good step forward from what we already have. Marco’s finger injury shouldn’t create too many problems so he should continue to improve his feeling with the bike."
CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team
"Estoril is a bit of a strange track, with a nice flowing section and some twisty and slow parts. One of my favourite sections is turn two, which is downhill and off-camber - it’s difficult but really nice. In general the track has a lot of places where you can overtake so the race should be fun to watch. Last year we did well in practice, we were very close to pole position and then had a slight technical problem in the race but finished on the podium. In theory if we can work well from the start and there are no nasty surprises then we should be in the fight for the win."
MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati MotoGP Team
"Estoril is probably another track that we won’t be best friends with but it’s pointless trying to predict - we’ll have to wait and see how we get on when we arrive. It’s a strange track with some slow corners and a really long and fast main straight but you couldn’t say it’s complete because there aren’t really any technical sections. It will be important to be good on the brakes and find a compromise in the setting. I hope we can start out better in practice and then improve throughout - something I’ve not managed to do yet. The finger I hurt in Jerez is practically recovered - I don’t think I’ll even need a bandage."
Estoril is a circuit of huge contrasts. The main straight is one of the longest in MotoGP, allowing for speeds in excess of 310km/h, whilst the chicane is one of the slowest. The average speed of the circuit is the lowest of the entire MotoGP calendar and the contrast between the fast and slow sections requires a tricky compromise in the set-up of the chassis. The same can be said for the engine, which needs to provide good top speed as well as sweet performance in low revs. However, perhaps the most important variable for the riders is the circuit’s close proximity to the Atlantic ocean, which can create strong winds that unbalance the riders and leave dirt on the track surface, reducing grip levels, The circuit plays host to the Grand Prix of Portugal for the ninth time this year, with the race having previously been held in 1987 and 1988 in Spain, before Estoril met with the safety requirements.