The Ducati Marlboro Team goes into its home Grand Prix in fine form, with the remarkable Casey Stoner leading the World Championship with three victories and a third place from the first five races and Loris Capirossi confident of a resurgence after a difficult French GP at rain-lashed Le Mans.
This is the first time that the Bologna-based squad contests the Italian GP as World Championship leader, a landmark moment that attests to the talent and dedication of this very Italian operation. As Ducati Motor Holding CEO Federico Minoli says: "Despite being a very small company there is an almost magical combination of genius, technology and all-Italian passion within Ducati that allows us to compete at the highest level".
Stoner and Capirossi are greatly looking forward to riding the Desmosedici GP7 at Mugello, an epic circuit where they have both scored success. Capirossi has put his Ducati on the podium three times from their last four visits and is the current lap record holder, while Stoner scored his first-ever GP pole position for the 2003 Italian 125 GP. The entire team can count on massive support from the Mugello crowd, including 3000 lucky Ducatisti, sponsors and factory workers who will fill a special Ducati grandstand at the Correntaio right-hander.
Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse Director;
"Mugello seems to suit our bike, and it is also one of Loris' favourite tracks, where he has always been very competitive. So, having listened to his feedback and analysed his data, we have prepared a new package to help him fight for the kind of results he's accustomed to achieving. These changes aim to modify the GP7's power delivery to offer rideability that's better suited to Lori's riding style. The changes include electronics - revised engine mapping and ride-by-wire set-up - and mechanics - revised cam timing and fluid-dynamics. The same package will also be available for Casey if he wants to try it."
Casey Stoner, World Championship leader on 102 points;
"Mugello is one of my favourite tracks. We've had some pretty good results there, including my first-ever pole position and I've made the podium in 125s. I think the bike is going to be really strong, the track's got a nice main straight which helps and some nice fast and flowing corners which the Ducati should like, so we should be able to do all right. It would be a nice one to win but it's going to be really tough work beating Loris and the rest of the Italian riders. But I feel we're fast enough, the Ducati and the Bridgestones are going really well and if we can find the right settings we'll be there. At Mugello you need a bike that changes direction good because there's a lot of high-speed direction changes and the faster you go, the harder it is to change direction. You need a pinpoint accurate bike because you've got to hit the right points at the right time, and if you don't do that you lose a lot of time, that's what makes this track so hard."
Loris Capirossi, 7th overall on 38 points;
"Mugello is my home race and Ducati's home race, so it's a really big weekend for all of us. In fact it's a big event for all the Italian riders, last year Valentino (Rossi) and I had a great battle for the win. The Mugello crowd is very enthusiastic, there's always an amazing atmosphere. I love the track, it's got some fantastic corners and some really interesting up and down sections, so it's a lot of fun to ride and I usually have good races there. The circuit character should suit our bike well, even if my feeling with the machine isn't 100 per cent at the moment. Ducati are working closely with me to refine the bike to suit my style because I am eager to get back on the pace and race up front again. Above all I'm convinced that we do have the potential to come back strong, we just need to stay focused and do our best at this race and at the following races."
Mugello is one of MotoGP's greatest events - a challenging, high-speed circuit situated in a picturesque Tuscan valley packed with tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans. The track features one of the world's longest straights which gives the Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP7 a chance to really stretch its legs. The fast and flowing circuit is also one of the most demanding, with a thrilling blend of high-speed turns, rapid direction changes and plentiful off-camber corners. Mugello's complexities are further heightened by a bumpy surface, which, combined with numerous adverse-camber corners, makes front-tyre choice particularly crucial. Mugello hosted its first bike GP in 1976 but only became a regular venue after total refurbishment in the early 1990s.