The following is from Yamaha…Fresh from a break of nearly a month, the Fiat Yamaha Team regroups this weekend at the coastal town of Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix. Returning to its more traditional end of season slot after moving to May last season, the race marks the start of the final phase of the championship with just the overseas double-header and the Valencian season finale remaining after it. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo lie first and second in the championship and the Yamaha pair’s rivalry promises a tense climax to this year’s thrilling championship.Rossi signed off for the holidays in fine fettle after taking his sixth win of the season at the last round, in front of his home fans at Misano. The 30-year-old has an exemplary record at Estoril and is the most successful rider in Grand Prix history at the track, having stood on the podium on all of his nine visits, including five wins. Last year he lost out to his then-rookie team-mate Lorenzo and finished third but the Italian will be looking for a maximum points haul this weekend as he stalks his ninth World Championship title.With three wins under his belt this season so far, Lorenzo finished second in Misano last time out and will be hoping that a return to the scene of one of his greatest world championship performances will kickstart his championship run-in. The Mallorcan’s explosive entry into MotoGP last year culminated at the third race in Portugal when he took his third consecutive pole and his maiden premier-class win. 16 months on the 22-year-old is older and wiser and he knows that nothing less than a victory will do if he wishes to increase the pressure on his team-mate, who lies 30 points ahead of him in the standings.Temperatures in early October usually settle around the mid-twenties in the region, although the Estoril circuit is located just seven kilometres from the Atlantic and is notorious for dramatic changes in weather, with spells of warm sunshine often interrupted by wild gusts of cold wind and rain. The layout of the Autodromo Fernanda Pires de Silva is similarly contrasting, featuring one of the longest main straights in MotoGP and one of the slowest corners. Several other twisty sections make for the lowest average speed in the championship but the 200km/h kink at turn five and the final Parabolica corner are two of the toughest tests of any rider’s skill and bravery.Valentino Rossi – “Ready to return to work”
“It was great to go away for the break after winning in Misano and with a good championship lead and I have enjoyed having three weeks off, but now I am ready to return to work. We’re in the final stage of the championship and we have a strong position but, as we’ve seen throughout this season, anything can happen and we know that the championship is far from over yet. The next three races are all good tracks for us and my team and I will aim to get as many points as possible each time and then we will see where we are in Valencia! Last year we struggled a little in Estoril but it’s been a great track for me in the past, especially with Yamaha, and it’s a place that usually produces good, close racing so I hope that’s the case again this year. I also hope to see Casey back in good shape and recovered because the championship misses him.”Jorge Lorenzo – “One of the best moments of my life”
“I am really excited to be coming back to race, a month is too long after the summer! It’s been strange to have such a long break but I’ve tried to use the time to prepare for the final races; I spent a week in Mallorca, training with my father and resting with my family and I enjoyed myself a lot. Now we go to Estoril, where I had one of the best moments of my life. In the past I was never strong there but last year I did an unbelievable race. This year it’s a different situation; a different time of year, everyone has the same tyres and we are in the closing stages of the championship. My aim is to have a good weekend in order to keep the championship going. I am also happy that we will see Casey back this weekend because he brings another challenge for all of us.”Davide Brivio – “The most important period of the championship”
“Now we’re going into the final four races and this is the most important period of the championship, where we can achieve all that we’ve worked for. In Misano we showed our strong motivation to win once again and we’re looking forward to the next chapter. We expect another big battle with Jorge and also with Stoner and Pedrosa. Estoril was difficult for us last year but this year everyone is on the same tyres and we know that we’re in great shape so we’re looking forward to a good weekend.”Daniele Romagnoli – “Can’t wait to be back on track”
“We’ve had a very long break in the season which is really unusual for us, but now we can’t wait to be back on the track again to continue our challenge. Last year Estoril was Jorge’s first win in MotoGP, which was unforgettable for everyone. It wasn’t his best track but we were very competitive and we believe that we will be able to be so again this time, keeping this championship as exciting as possible for us and all MotoGP fans.”The following is from Suzuki…Rizla Suzuki and the rest of the MotoGP paddock will be back in action this coming weekend for the latest exciting episode in the 2009 MotoGP calendar as the series moves to Estoril in Portugal for round 14.Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen will be looking to continue with the improvement in form that was shown on race-day at Misano in Italy three weeks ago, as they attack the 4,182m Portuguese circuit from Friday onwards. Recent engine and chassis upgrades have both made a positive difference to the performance of the Suzuki GSV-R, and Capirossi and Vermeulen will both be striving to find the maximum potential from the new specification to enable them to perform at the maximum of their own abilities.The Autodromo Fernanda Pires da Silva circuit features a kilometre-long straight, one of the slowest sections of the year and two ultra-fast corners, all combining to make this one of the most contrasting tracks on the calendar. Situated on a rocky plateau near the village of Alcabideche high above the city of Estoril, and only a few kilometres from the Atlantic ocean, the chances of ever-changing weather is always likely and with strong winds gusting of the ocean it can get a bit breezy, bikes have even been known to be blown off the track!Rizla Suzuki will get into action on Friday afternoon for the first free practice session, followed by a second free session on Saturday morning. Grid position will be decided in an afternoon hour-long qualifying session on Saturday to determine where the riders line-up for Sunday’s 28-lap race, which gets underway at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).Loris Capirossi:
“We had a good result last time out at Misano, but we still want more. The factory has been working hard recently and we have showed big improvements and we need to keep that going for the rest of the year and carry it through the winter and into 2010 I’ve had a couple of podiums at Estoril as well as a pole position start and I’d really like to add to that this weekend, we know it will be tough, but we need to believe in ourselves and try to take that next step.”Chris Vermeulen:
“I can’t wait to get back on the bike again after the short break we’ve had, I feel fully refreshed and totally focused on the rest of the season. Estoril is a tough track for us, but with the changes we’ve made recently I’m hoping that will point us in a new direction. I’ve had a couple of top-10 finishes there and although they are not the sort of results I would like, they have all been hard battles and I’ve learnt a lot more each time. I’m really looking forward to the weekend and will be doing all I can to push the bike up towards the front.”The following is from Repsol Honda…MotoGP comes alive again this weekend after enjoying an extended break since the last race at Misano four weeks ago. The Repsol Honda Team goes into round 14 of the 17-race series ready for the final push of the 2009 season which sees the world championship paddock once again jetting around the globe, landing in Portugal this weekend before heading to Australia, Malaysia and then returning to Europe for the finale at Valencia, Spain. Factory Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso arrive at the Estoril circuit refreshed and fully focused on carving out the best possible finish to the season.Pedrosa will be looking to extend the recent form that’s seen him consistently challenging the championship leaders and climbing to third place in the world standings. The Spaniard led the first seven laps last time out at the San Marino Grand Prix, and he and his crew will be determined to find that little bit extra to enable him to fight at the front right to the end of this weekend’s 28-lap race. Pedrosa, who celebrates his 24th birthday on the Tuesday before Estoril, will be looking to find the speed that saw him run last year’s winner, Jorge Lorenzo, very close here – eventually finishing just 1.8s behind his fellow Spaniard. Indeed Pedrosa has finished second in Portugal for the last two seasons and will surely be targeting the win this weekend.Andrea Dovizioso arrives at the Estoril circuit looking to maintain the consistent run of form which has seen him take fourth place in the last three races and, before that, score his first MotoGP victory at Donington Park in July. On his MotoGP debut at Estoril last year Dovizioso was highly impressive in only his third top-flight race, forming part of a four-way battle for the lead with Valentino Rossi, Pedrosa and Lorenzo for the first half of the race before a fall denied him a probable podium finish. This is a track at which Dovizioso performs well and where he has three podium finishes and one win – in 2006 – to his name from the 250cc class. Like Pedrosa, Dovizioso has recently signed a new contract with the factory Honda squad and is sure to come to Portugal with no shortage of motivation.Last year’s Portuguese Grand Prix came near the beginning of the season in April but for 2009 it has returned to its more traditional spot at the tail end of the calendar. The circuit itself is quite bumpy and features its fair share of slow, tight corners but still seems to generate high-quality MotoGP racing. The fast Parabolica curve which unwinds onto the 0.986km (0.613-mile) main straight provides an exciting launch pad for slipstreaming and out-braking moves into the tight turn one. Rain is not unheard of at the venue, located just 20km from Lisbon, but the MotoGP paddock will be hoping for consistent weather conditions as first practice gets under way on Friday afternoon at 13.55.
DANI PEDROSA – World championship position: 3rd, 157 points”It’s been quite a long break since the last race and I really enjoyed it – combining time to relax as well as taking the opportunity to put in some good training. It’s unusual to have three weeks off at this stage of the year, but now it’s time to get back on track and I’m very much looking forward to facing the last part of the season. We need to be very focused from the first practice on Friday to prepare the bike as much a possible for this race. At this track you need a machine that performs well on the brakes and over the bumps and is able to maintain good rear grip. It’s quite a tough track from a riding point of view, but I feel confident on this front because physically I’m in really good condition now. We’ll see how the weather is compared to last year when we raced in April. I have good memories from 2008 when we managed to finish second even though we had mixed conditions on Sunday with some light showers at the beginning of the race. Obviously I would prefer to have stable weather and dry conditions, but whatever happens I’m looking forward to getting back on track.”ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – World championship position: 5th, 133 points “Estoril is a track where I have achieved some good results and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike after this long break. Last year’s race here was looking going well for me too, and I was fighting with Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Valentino before I crashed, so I have a positive feeling coming into this weekend and I’m confident I can have a good race. It’s a very slow circuit and some parts are a bit tight and narrow for MotoGP machines. This means it’s not easy to tame these bikes around here and it takes a while to understand how to approach the track and fully exploit the MotoGP bike’s performance. At the last race at Misano we collected important data on the way to fourth place and the team and I have some ideas of how to further improve the machine set-up with the Ohlins suspension. I‘m really curious to see how these new setting solutions will work out. We’re feeling confident for the final four races of the season and I’m definitely looking forward to racing at Estoril.” The following is from Ducati…The following is from Ducati…The Ducati MotoGP Team returns from a long September break this weekend ready to tackle the Estoril circuit with Casey Stoner back in the saddle alongside his team-mate Nicky Hayden.The Italian outfit has been working hard on two fronts since the end of July, on one hand liasing with doctors in Australia monitoring the progress being made by Casey and on the other continuing exhaustive development of the Desmosedici, on which Nicky has been able to make great strides, culminating with his podium finish at Indianapolis and further signs of competitiveness at Misano before a blameless first lap crash.During two months away from racing under the supervision of an expert medical team in his homeland (Dr. Neil Halpin, Sport Physician, Dr Jeremy Coleman, Consultant Physician, Dr Harry Grunstein, Endocrinologist and Professor Jonathan Silberberg, Cardiologist), who have remained in touch with Prof. Fabio Catani (Specialist in Pathology and Locomotive System at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute of Bologna and Ducati’s doctor for several years) and Dr Claudio Macchiagodena of the Clinica Mobile, Casey has undergone a series of exams and special tests.The results of the tests have excluded pathological anomalies of cardiovascular, respiratory or neurological origins. The exams and inspections also failed to show up any kind of virus or infection.However, the medical report made by Prof. Silderberg and Dr Coleman did reveal low blood pressure levels and a lack of sodium, the two factors that the doctors believe were the main cause of the physical problems that interrupted the season for the Ducati rider.The doctors all agree that overtraining was the most common factor that showed up during the tests and that the after-effects of injuries and surgeries over the last few years were the cause of the physical weakness and exhaustion that the Australian began to suffer a few months ago.The doctors also unanimously confirmed that their suggestion to stop Casey from racing at the end of July was absolutely necessary in order to avoid aggravating his physical debilitation.Following the final medical examination that he underwent last week before leaving Australia, the doctors confirmed that whilst he was still not completely recovered, he is in better physical shape than he was in July and his weight is back up to 60kg, which is close to his ideal weight.
Casey will be back on track this weekend despite not being in peak condition and he will remain under medical supervision throughout, with a new sodium-rich diet aimed at raising his blood pressure and muscular functionality.CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team (4th in the championship on 150 points)
“I’m definitely looking forward to the race weekend. Having three races off is the biggest period away from racing in my life. It was very difficult to accept the advice of the doctors to stop racing. In the past I have raced even when injured, like in the last few races of the 2008 season when my wrist was broken, but this time it was really not possible and of course I felt very sorry for the team. Now I’m looking forward to getting back together with the team and everyone and I hope I’ll be able to be more competitive than I was in the past, but we will have to wait and see. The doctors have put me on some salt tablets to increase my sodium levels but we will have to see if it helps. We will understand more during the weekend. Of course it’s going to be difficult: at first we won’t know if it will work because I’ve been off the bike so long that in any case my muscles will take some time to get race fit again. But, as I said, I’m looking forward to getting back and to starting work on the bike, looking towards the future.”NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati MotoGP Team (14th in the championship on 73 points)
“A few weeks off is always nice but I’m definitely over it now and ready to get back to the track and on the bike. I haven’t really been up to anything exciting over the break, just training and hanging out getting prepared for the final stretch of the season. Any time we get a few weeks at home is like gold when you travel like we do. I am very excited for Portugal – we go there feeling pretty positive after finding some decent speed over the last few races. We go there at a different time in the season from last year so it has been almost a year and half since we’ve been to the track, which makes it a little difficult. The track is nothing real special but I like it. It’s pretty narrow, with probably the tightest and slowest chicane on the whole calendar, but has a great fifth gear kink on the back straightaway and the final turn is a very long, cool corner. Also we will have Casey back which is great for the team and the championship and I’m sure he will be as fast as ever. Getting on that front row or podium just got even harder for me!”LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
“We are really pleased that Casey is back with us. We never had any doubt that he would be with us once again at Estoril. We know that he is still not in 100% peak fitness and we just hope that over the last four races of the season he can gradually build his strength and work with Nicky to help Filippo develop the bike. With that goal in mind we have a few new things to try this weekend, in particular a new fairing which is designed to make the bike handle better in strong winds and fast direction changes. I really hope Nicky’s luck turns around after Misano because his season has got gradually better and I’m sure he’ll keep that trend going this weekend.”THE TRACK
Estoril is a circuit of huge contrasts. The main straight is one of the longest in MotoGP, allowing for speeds in excess of 300km/h, whilst the chicane is one of the slowest and alongside the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca one of the most difficult. The average speed of the circuit is the lowest of the entire MotoGP calendar and the contrast between the fast and slow sections requires a tricky compromise in the set-up of the chassis. The same can be said for the engine, which needs to provide good top speed as well as sweet performance in low revs. However, perhaps the most important variable for the riders is the circuit’s close proximity to the Atlantic ocean, which can create strong winds that unbalance the riders and leave dirt on the track surface, reducing grip levels, The circuit plays host to the Grand Prix of Portugal for the tenth time this year, with the race having previously been held in 1987 and 1988 in Spain, before Estoril met with the safety requirements.