Valencia (Spain), Thursday 21 April: Two down and ten remaining as
Ducati Xerox Team riders James Toseland and Régis Laconi arrive in Valencia, Spain for the first round of this year's World Superbike Championship to be held on European soil. After two overseas events in Qatar and Australia, the Ricardo Tormo Circuit now provides the Spanish backdrop for the reigning world champion and his French team-mate's assault on the 2005 title.
Régis Laconi, currently lying third in the table with 54 points, is
the only rider so far to really keep the pace of the leading Suzukis, and
the 29-year-old Frenchman is convinced he can again do battle this weekend.
"Three weeks since the last round is too long", declared Régis, "so it
just feels great to be back racing in Europe. We found some good solutions
in Phillip Island for the settings and I hope they will work again at this
track. Lap times were good in the tests here, so I think we can do a good
job this weekend. Valencia is a very difficult circuit because it has a lot
of hard braking but you need very good turning for the bike. That's
something almost opposite so you have to find a good compromise.
"I feel my 999 is such a good package now but every small change makes
a big difference and that's what I need, just two or three tenths is
important to stay at the front or try to pass. We are not down on power, our
bike is very fast and we have good acceleration, but the most important
thing is to get the front of the bike to go precisely where you want. Then
you can open the throttle early and get the best drive out of the corners",
James Toseland is languishing down in eighth place following the
series of misfortunes and crashes that have marked his early-season title
defence, but the 24-year-old won at Valencia last year and is sure to be a
force to be reckoned with this weekend.
"I'm pleased to be back at a race track after my shocker of a start in
Qatar and Australia", commented James. "Fortunately for me the problems that
have been occurring, apart from the crash in Qatar, have been out of my
control. As far as riding and my confidence goes, I feel good and just want
to get back out there. Lap times and everything else are all there, they
just need to come together now.
"Valencia is totally different to the first two tracks, it's a lot
slower and tighter, and very technical. Because of the small gaps between
corners you have to be very accurate and if your concentration is off your
lap time is ruined. It's all about keeping it flowing around here because
every corner leads into the next one. Obviously you've got to get the bike
to turn well but also keep some weight on the rear to have a fine balance.
The whole package is capable of winning, we've just got to find the right
form. This is where the season starts and we've got to knuckle down",
Ducati Xerox two-seater: The first European round of the season will
also mark the first appearance of the Ducati Xerox Two-Seater, which has
been set up in collaboration with the team's new sponsor, Xerox. The bike is
an exact replica of the 999F05 of James Toseland, right down to the #1 on
the front, and it will be used at every round of the season to provide a
sensational experience for a selected group of clients, sponsors and VIPs.
The rides will be provided by expert Italian racer Dario Marchetti, chief
instructor at Ducati's DRE (Ducati Racing Experience) riding school and the
first pillion passengers on the two-seater at Valencia will be three lucky
readers of Spain's most prestigious daily newspaper 'El Pais'.