Ducati Preview Portuguese MotoGP
Ducati Team riders Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi go into the Portuguese Grand Prix aiming to obtain the best possible points haul before jetting overseas for the Japanese, Australian and Malaysian GPs.
Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi go into the Portuguese Grand Prix aiming to obtain the best possible points haul before jetting overseas for the Japanese, Australian and Malaysian GPs. The remarkable Stoner currently leads the World Championship by an amazing 85 points after scoring his eighth win of the year at Misano earlier this month, while Capirossi lies eighth in the championship.
And if at Estoril Stoner scores 15 points more than current second-placed rider Valentino Rossi, he will be crowned 2007 MotoGP World Champion. Stoner is on a roll at the moment – he has scored the ‘triple crown’ of pole position, race victory and fastest lap at the last three MotoGP events in the USA, Czech Republic and San Marino, his genius riding talent getting the absolute maximum out of his Desmosedici GP7 and its Bridgestone tyres.
As the Australian says: "the more I ride the Ducati, the more comfortable I become and the faster I become". The 2007 MotoGP series enters its final phase after Estoril, with the three flyaway events followed by the season-ending Valencia GP on November 4.
LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project director "We are starting the final phase of the championship, so Estoril will be an important race for us and we are looking forward to the weekend. We are leading the championship thanks to Casey’s amazing riding – eight wins from 13 races is incredible – but we still have work to do. In any case Casey is doing a fantastic job – Bridgestone has won nine races this year, but only one with another rider. I believe he deserves full recognition for his riding talent and for the way he approaches racing. Of course, Ducati and our technical partners have also worked hard to achieve this success – this is competition, this is what racing is all about."
CASEY STONER, World Championship leader on 271 points "We’ve got five races left now and if we are able to win the championship it doesn’t matter at which race we win it, anywhere will do. Everything’s working really well with our package at the moment. The team and the technicians are great, we work very well together, we are like a family. That helps a lot, you can do the same job if you don’t have that relationship, but having a good relationship makes things more relaxed. I know the team believes in me and in my ability, which takes the pressure off, I felt this from the very first race. I’ve always gone quite well at Estoril, I won the 250 race there in 2005. Some of the track flows, some of it doesn’t. The fast right onto the back straight was almost flat out on the 990s, so it should be flat out this year, but it’s nothing like turn 11 in Turkey. The chicane is a bit too slow, really. There’s a couple of parts I really enjoy, like turn two, which is a very, very difficult off-camber downhill corner that catches out a lot of riders. There seems to be a lot of passing opportunities at Estoril, so you get a lot of overtaking, so it should be a reasonably good race."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 8th overall on 98 points "I like riding at Estoril. Last year we had a difficult time there with the tyres but everything is different now, Bridgestone has made an amazing step forward this year. I think we have a good opportunity to have a good race in Portugal. We had quite a difficult weekend at Misano but we were able to recover really well for the race, and maybe what we learned there will help us at Estoril, which also features quite a few tricky corners. Estoril isn’t a bad racetrack, it’s not that interesting or that boring either, but it’s tight and bumpy, so it’s very physically demanding. A lot of the layout is fun, though the first corner is a bit of a joke and I’m not so keen on the tiny chicane which really, really tight and therefore a bit awkward, but I guess it’s the same for all the riders. For me, the best corner is turn five – for sure this is one of the best corners that we find throughout the whole MotoGP championship. It’s a big test of rider, machine and tyres, and it is very enjoyable, when you make a good job of it."
THE TRACK Estoril is MotoGP’s slowest track, but its contrast of very slow and very fast corners requires careful compromises in chassis settings, and it’s the same with the engine – the contrast between the fast start-finish straight and the many slow-speed corners requires maximum peak horsepower as well as gentle low-rpm performance. But perhaps the greatest concern for riders is the track’s proximity to the Atlantic. High-speed winds often whip off the ocean, blowing bikes and riders off course, and throwing dust onto the circuit, reducing grip. Estoril hosts its eighth World Championship GP this year, though this is the ninth Portuguese GP. The nation’s first two GPs were held at Spanish tracks in 1987 and 1988, because Estoril failed MotoGP’s stringent track safety standards.
Lap record: Kenny Roberts Junior (KR211V), 1m 37.914s, 153.759km/h-95.541mph
Pole position 2006: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 36.200s