The Ducati Marlboro Team travels to the Middle-East leading the 2006
MotoGP World Championship after a sensational start to the season in
Spain, where Loris Capirossi took his Desmosedici GP06 to a brilliant
win in front of 131,000 fans.
The Italian squad dominated Jerez: Capirossi and Sete Gibernau
qualified first and second fastest, Capirossi won the race in
spectacular style, a perfect weekend only spoiled when while Gibernau
bike's encountered a technical glitch. Both riders proved that they are
super-fast on qualifying tyres and race tyres, proving that the long
winter's work undertaken by the team, Ducati and Bridgestone has been
abundantly fruitful. The latest version of the Desmosedici V4 has lost
none of its speed but offers improved rideability and consistency, the
main priorities of the winter development programme.
Livio Suppo, Ducati MotoGP project manager;
"Jerez was a great weekend - Loris took pole, the win and the fastest
lap and Sete was second in qualifying and fastest in warm-up - it was
just a shame that he had a problem in the race. We go to Losail leading
the championship but we've got to keep our feet on the ground. It's a
long season so we need to keep our focus to ensure we fulfil our
potential. Loris is on a confidence high, hopefully he can celebrate his
33rd birthday (on April 4th) in the best possible way! Sete has proved
he's fast and I'm sure he'll soon get the good results he deserves."
Loris Capirossi, World Championship ranking: first;
"I had a perfect bike and perfect tyres at Jerez and we have a simple
target for Qatar - to do the same all over again. We are quite confident
but we know it won't be easy. The toughest thing in Qatar can be the
weather. Two years ago it was almost 40 degrees, which made riding
really tough. I hope it will be cooler this time because we're there in
early April, not early October. The most important thing for this track
is to have a well-balanced bike that changes direction well. As always,
tyres will be important and the Bridgestone rear has improved a lot
since last year, it's got a much better contact feeling.
"We have a plan to ride streetbikes - I'll have a Ducati 999 - around
the track (with fellow riders' safety commission members Valentino Rossi
and Kenny Roberts Junior) on Thursday night, to see if it's feasible to
run future Qatar GPs in the dark, when it will be much cooler. They have
erected floodlights at several corners, so it will be an interesting
Sete Gibernau, World Championship ranking: no score;
"What happened at Jerez was a pity but these things sometimes happen in
racing. Everyone had worked so hard over the winter and we showed in
practice and qualifying that we are fast. Now we just need a result to
prove it. Despite that disappointment we are ready to fight again. We
are learning all the time and I have a great team behind me, so I'm
looking forward to getting back on track in Qatar.
"I've got nice memories of Qatar - I won the race in 2004. It's a good
circuit, quite particular, with a little bit of everything and some
special turns like the triple right-hander which is really spectacular.
Apart from that, it's sandy and it's hot! There are a lot of changes of
direction during a lap at Qatar so you need the bike to turn good. But
like I always say, MotoGP is so close now that you need a bike that does
everything well, you can win or lose because of the tiniest difference
in bike performance."
Dominated by a 1.1km straight, the remainder of the 5.4km Losail track
is a sinuous high-speed switchback, with most corners leading into one
another, rather than separated by straights. The circuit was designed
using elements of other famous tracks.
The chief issue at Losail can be sand. Windblown desert sand made the
circuit treacherously slippery during the inaugural 2004 Qatar GP but
the track has improved a lot since then. The heat is another major
consideration at Qatar. In 2004 ambient temperatures nudged 50 degrees,
asking much from riders, bikes, tyres and pit crew. This year's race has
been scheduled six months earlier, so conditions should be cooler.