March 14, 2006 A few months is a long time in motor racing and Ducati enters the 2006 season with realistic optimisim considering the poor shape its race effort was in just over six months ago. At that time the company’s perpetual superbike crown was all but lost and the MotoGP race machine had not yet blossomed in the way it did in the final races of 2005 before a Capirossi injury ended a string of poles, fastest laps and race winning efforts. Now the company’s fortunes are following on from that showing with continued speed and now two riders capable of challenging Valentino Rossi for a win. Troy Bayliss has put the factory superbike back on top after four races in the 2006 championship and the two MotoGP riders have finished first and second in the final official tests prior to the commencement of hostilities. Both riders are fit and fast and the bike is “smoking.”
Even better news is that Kawasaki’s big spending is paying off (Nakano was third fastest), Suzuki is running at the front with two good riders and a slew of promising new Honda riders have all showed race leading pace. Everyone is in great shape to attempt the impossible, or at very least highly improbable – beating Valentino Rossi and his Yamaha in what everyone accepts will be his last year of MotoGP. Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards experienced tyre difficulties in the final test, but Rossi clearly has what he needs to continue his winning ways. But the big news on the final day of testing was the pace of the Ducati Desmosedici which put Capirossi and Gibernau ahead of everyone, both on race and qualifying tyres, on the final of the three MotoGP test days.
Twas a very positive day for the Ducati Marlboro Team at Jerez. In warm and sunny conditions, Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau put the finishing touches to their Desmosedici GP6s before the World Championship opener on this same circuit in 2 weeks time. Using qualifying tyres, Loris improved on his new lap record and also lowered last year’s Pole Position time. Sete also did a very good job, continuing to bond with his new team. Both riders now can’t wait for the racing to start.
It was also the last work day in Spain for the factory test rider, Vittoriano Guareschi, riding with the Development Team.
Livio Suppo (Ducati MotoGP Project Manager) "We can only be happy with how things went in these three days of tests. We must thank Loris and Sete who once again proved just how strong they are! We are now getting ready for the first race, we are aware that it’s not going to be as easy as it might look after today, but we are certainly confident. The Ducati Corse engineers did a great job, back at the factory and at the tracks, and so did the Bridgestone engineers who made remarkable progress during the winter. However, this championship level is so high that we just cannot relax. I would also like to thank all our technical partners and Shell Advance in particular."
Loris Capirossi (56 laps - best time on qualifying tyres 1:39.411, best time on race tyres: 1:40.296) "Three very positive days for us. We are well prepared for the season opener and I am very happy. My Desmosedici responded well to all the set-up modifications that we introduced and now it’s perfect on this track. It is not easy to find the perfect set-up for our GP6, but once it’s done, we have a great bike. In any case, I think that the work done in the past few days will be important and useful on other tracks too, and it will be a good starting point for the season that is about to begin. Today we’ve been a little bit faster than yesterday: doing 40.2 on race tyres is quite an achievement! We improved our pace too, I’m satisfied. I enjoyed riding on qualifying tyres and I was fast. We must keep our feet on the ground because the others will improve also but, now we can only enjoy this good ending to our winter tests! I’d like to thank Bridgestone for the great job done in these months and everyone at Ducati Corse. Our boys are really strong!"
Sete Gibernau (87 laps - best time on qualifying tyres 1:39.663, best time on race tyres: 1:40.744) "It was a long, hard day and we tested a lot of new things on the bike and with the tyres. Generally speaking, it went well although we took a bit too long finding the right way to go and there was a little confusion at some point. I would like to thank my team for the very good job done, I’m happy with the way the pre-season testing ended. Bridgestone also proved to be very competitive and very responsive. They brought the right material to allow us to be both up to pace on race tyres and very fast on qualifying tyres here. I would like to thank everybody because we’re working so well together. Now I can’t wait for the new season to start!"
Temperatures: Air 24°, Track 38°