The following is from Ducati…The Ducati MotoGP Team travelled directly from Holland, where Casey Stoner celebrated a podium finish, to the north-east of Spain this week in readiness for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Catalunya, which completes a triple-header of races across three consecutive weekends.The Spanish track, the scene of Ducati’s first win during the factory’s debut MotoGP season back in 2003, is fast, exciting, and the it has been scene of some memorable races in the past. Both Stoner and his team-mate Nicky Hayden are hoping to find a good set-up for their machines as they look to mount another strong challenge for the podium.
CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team
“I have had some fantastic races at Catalunya in the past and others not so good but generally I have very fond memories there. I hope we can get around the issues we usually have there and be competitive because gradually we are getting better but we need to start picking up the results to show for it; it would be nice to start doing that at Catalunya. The layout is really nice, it’s quite a classic, but sometimes with our bike we have struggled to find grip there. We have to try and sort that out this year and hopefully I can have some fun because we normally get some really close racing here.”NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati MotoGP Team
“The Grand Prix of Catalunya is one of the nicest of the season. Whenever we race in Spain there is always a huge crowd and a really hot atmosphere. Everybody likes the track, even though over the years it has developed a few bumps. As far as set-up is concerned it will be important to find good traction because there are a lot of corners where you’re leaned over for a long time. There are also some hard braking areas so it will be important to find a good balance between stability and handling. We’ll do our best to do a good job.”VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“Barcelona brings us to the end of a series of three consecutive races during which time we have worked a lot on the set-up of the GP10 with both our riders. Casey in particular needed to rediscover his confidence with the front and he was satisfied with the progress we made at Assen. At Catalunya, where there are a lot of long, flat corners, it will be important to build on what we have found so far as well as finding good rear grip. Traction at full lean in the long corners will also be one of the main set-up areas we will be working on with Nicky at Barcelona, especially if the conditions are very hot because this will put extra stress on the tyres.”THE TRACK
The Circuit de Catalunya, located around 20 kilometres north of Barcelona, was added to the calendar in 1992, when it hosted the European Grand Prix, before changing to the Grand Prix of Catalunya in 1996. It is a fast and demanding track with a long main straight of 1,047m, which allows the 800cc machines to hit top speeds in excess of 300km/h, and some hard-braking areas such as turn one and the “La Caixa” corner at the end of the shorter back straight, as well as some fast and flowing corners. The combination of long corners and variations in camber calls for a balanced chassis set-up and puts huge demand on front tyre durability and feel. The track was resurfaced in 2005 but many riders still complain about the bumps caused by F1 testing and racing.The following is from Honda…The Catalunya Grand Prix is the most eagerly anticipated race of the year for some in the Honda camp who make their homes in the hotbed of Spanish road racing. In the premier MotoGP class, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) arrives second in the championship and looking forward to racing in front of family and friends at the circuit not far from his home in Sabadell. Pedrosa wasn’t able to showcase his talent last year, after an earlier crash in Mugello, and is looking forward to an on-form return to the track where he won in 2008. And Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) hopes to add to his Moto2 championship-leading points tally, which he built on by finishing second in last weekend’s Dutch TT.Pedrosa had little time to celebrate his fine second place finish in last week’s Dutch TT, a race in which he set the new circuit fastest lap.
Assen was the second of three races on the trot and run only six days after Silverstone. With an extra day at home prior to the Catalunya race, Pedrosa will have more time to charge his batteries as he prepares to tackle a track where his circuit record lap from 2008 still stands.It will also give his team a little more time analyse the work they did to transform his RC212V overnight from Friday to Saturday’s race in Holland. Having struggled in practice and qualifying, Pedrosa was elated and confident in Saturday morning warm-up after validating the progress his team had made. With that progress already in place, Pedrosa will have a leg up when he rolls out for practice on Friday afternoon at the Montmelo circuit.
The 24-year-old wasn’t at full fitness for the 2009 race, having crashed at Mugello two weeks earlier. But he’s in top shape now and eager to erase the memories of last year before a race day crowd which last year approached 90,000.Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) always looks forward to his annual visit to Catalunya, as much for the atmosphere as the configuration. Catalunya is a long circuit with fast, flowing corners, one linked to the next, that suits his style. The proof is that he’s won the race and been on the podium numerous times. In 2008, his first year in the premier class, he finished one spot off the podium a performance he repeated last year. The Italian had arrived at the previous race in Assen full of confidence after finishing a season-best second in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. That runner-up finish kept alive a string of five races with Hondas on the podium, a string that Pedrosa extended in Assen.Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) finished sixth in Assen, his fourth such finish of the year. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Frenchman has run with the leaders at a number of races and was in podium contention more than once. More importantly, de Puniet has shown a newfound maturity by scoring points in every race, which has put him on pace for a best ever championship finish. The LCR Honda rider is the highest ranking non-factory rider one-third of the way through the 18-race calendar. De Puniet believes his strength is in fast corners, and the Catalunya circuit has several. His fondest memories of the venue are of his two 250cc wins and later running near the front early in his MotoGP career.Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) also has a number of fond memories of Catalunya. In addition to a victory in the 250cc class, the 27-year-old Italian has a pair of podium finishes from earlier in his MotoGP career, but a podium will be a tall order this weekend. Melandri separated his left shoulder in practice on the morning of qualifying at Assen. The decision to withdrawal came a day later, on Saturday morning, when Melandri knew he wouldn’t be able to ride the Honda RC212V at his usual brisk pace. He was examined by a specialist on the Monday following the race, who said that he needs to undergo further checks on the collarbone ligaments and confirmed that the bone in his shoulder has suffered a major trauma. Melandri will undergo more tests after the race, but he has been cleared to take part. Though he will have had an extra day between races, the shoulder is certain to be a bother and a podium finish will be difficult. Still, he’ll certainly be able to score points and continue to mentor his younger team-mate.In the absence of Melandri, Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) was his team’s lone representative at Assen. Rear grip issues meant that the day didn’t produce the hoped-for results and he was thankful of his shot at redemption a week later. What he learned about his traction issues early in the race has been analysed by his team, which will send him out on Friday morning with a differently set up motorcycle. “Super Sic” has twice been on the podium at Catalunya, finishing second on a 125 and winning on a 250 on a circuit he considers one of his favourites.Kousuke Akiyoshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) will ride the second of his two races in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, the Japanese rider who broke his back in practice for the British Grand Prix. The Honda test rider has made it clear his role is to continue to develop the Honda RC212V in race conditions, and Catalunya, where he has some experience, is the perfect venue. The team is currently searching for a more stable replacement for Akiyoshi and are talking with three different riders to substitute from the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring forward. The number one criteria is MotoGP experience, which at least two of the three riders have. With a weekend off between Catalunya and Sachsenring, they’re confident of reaching a solution.Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) will be able to sleep in his own bed for the grand prix weekend. The 27-year-old from Manresa admits his success in the premier class was limited at his home track, but his confidence has grown with each Moto2 race and he believes he can ascend the top step of the podium for the third time this year. Having struggled for two races prior to Assen, Elias and the team found their way again with a fighting second place finish and he expects the progress to continue at home.Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) has been a revelation this season. The likeable Japanese rider has exceeded expectations in making the successful transition from Honda’s 250cc two-stroke to the 600cc four-stroke. Tomizawa likes the Barcelona track, where he tested his Suter chassis prior to fitment with the control Honda engine. That gave him a yardstick from which he’ll be able to measure the progress in the first six races of the season. Tomizawa began the season by becoming the first ever winner in the Moto2 class at Qatar. He followed that with a second in the next race and Qatar, before a DNF in France. His consistency has kept him in the top six the rest of the way and he sits second in the championship to Elias.Tom Lüthi (Interwitten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki) will be riding in Spain less than a week after an operation to mend a broken collarbone. The Swiss rider dislocated the collarbone in a motocross crash prior to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Despite that, he finished a strong second in the grand prix. It was during Friday morning practice in Assen that Luthi broke the collarbone while trying to avoid a slide. Still, he rode valiantly to a third place finish and within striking distance of second.Marcel Schrötter, Luthi’s Interwetten Honda teammate, continues his rookie grand prix season with a visit to yet another new circuit. The young German wasn’t happy with his performance in Assen, where he had hoped to build on the results from the previous race, and is entering the Catalunya weekend without any expectations. His goal is to continue scoring points as he gains experience against a talented field of riders, most of whom have aspirations of ascending to the Moto2 and MotoGP championships.Prior to this season, the Montmelo weekend has traditionally followed the race in Mugello, a course with similar characteristics. (This year the series visited Silverstone and Assen in between.) Each has a long front straight followed by a hard braking right hand first turn-harder braking in Catalunya-followed by technical sections of fast and slow corners, and elevation changes. The track has eight right-hand corners, many of which are long and fast, and five slower left-handers, which put different demands on the control Bridgestone tires. One of the most critical corners is the uphill right that leads on the middle straightaway. What sounds like a misfire is, in fact, the sophisticated electronics regulating spark to the engine as the 250bhp race bikes struggle to find grip for the drive down the chute and into the final sequence.Montmelo’s dramatic end of lap plays out in front of a series of packed grandstands. The ‘stadium’ section is entered from the middle straight into a sharp left, followed by a less sharp left that flicks right into a hairpin that leads into the final two two right hand turns. The first sends riders rushing down to the final right onto the 1.047k straightaway, where top speeds reach nearly 322 kph. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) won last year’s race with a dramatic pass of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the final corner, proving that nothing is decided until the very end.Because the Catalunya circuit is also used for Formula One, the track surface is rippled in a number of corners, which puts a greater emphasis on suspension tuning to get the true benefit of the Honda RC212V both in acceleration and under braking.MotoGP Rider Quotes:
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) says: “I arrive at Catalunya GP in a very good mood. The last race in Assen was an excellent example of how we will never give up. The practice sessions were very difficult but our team never became downhearted and we were working until the final moments to get a good result. I’m happy with the race because I was able to maintain a high pace from the first lap to the last and I hope we can do that again in Catalunya. So far this season we have alternated between bad and good results at each race, but hopefully we can reach a high level again in Barcelona – everybody in my team is ready to go for it. It’s a circuit I always love to ride at because it’s very much my home race. My family and friends are there and, together with my fans, I feel more than anywhere else that I’m surrounded by supporters. I really want them to enjoy the weekend. Last year this race was very tough because I was injured and in pain, and I had to race with a pain-killing injection. This time we go to the Catalunya GP in good shape. We know that we will need to work very hard to set up the bike because at this circuit it is always difficult to find a good machine setting, and the one we used in Assen will probably not be right for this circuit. But I hope to get the bike sorted by Saturday, do a good qualifying practice and be prepared to fight at the maximum level in the race. So far when we’ve been at the front it’s been our hard work that has got us there, so we must continue pushing like this in Barcelona this weekend.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) says: “I’m happy to be going to the Catalunya Grand Prix straight after the last race so that we can quickly turn page on the result in Assen and aim for a good result in Montmelo. This is one of my favourite circuits, it suits my riding style and I think it should be good also for the Honda RC212V machines. It’s a long track with fast corners and it’s a great feeling when you find the right flow and link one turn with the next. There is also a fantastic atmosphere at this track, and when you enter the final four corners it feels like a stadium and the sensation is incredible. I have always had good results here and I’m feeling really motivated. We have been strong so far this season and generally we have been improving race by race. We’ve finished on the podium quite a few times, and thanks to the work we put in over the winter we’ve been closer to front-running pace at most races. Still, we need to take another step forward so that we can compete for victory – that’s what we’ll try to do this weekend. I’m looking forward to the next challenge in Spain.”Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) says: “Barcelona is another fast race track with many fast corners. It is another track that suits my riding style and the way we have been working so far makes me confident to get another positive result. I won two races in 250cc class and got the front in
2007 with Kawasaki so I have got very good memories about this circuit. I do not want to dream about the podium because I need to stay focused on our job to take as many points as possible but I am pretty sure we can lap in the front once again as the overall package is quite good at the moment.”Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: “I’m going to Barcelona with the clear objective of putting the disappointments of Silverstone and Assen behind me. I will obviously have to wait and see how I feel on the bike after such a big crash in Holland, but my determination to race again is huge. I have had a lot of treatment on the shoulder since Saturday and even though I still won’t be at peak physical fitness I am determined to get back out on track. I really want to build on the progress we made in practice at Assen, where we confirmed our recent progress with the set-up of the bike. I hope I am fit and able to continue the recent good work we’ve been doing so that we can have more to be pleased with by the end of the weekend.”Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: “The tyre problem at Assen definitely wasn’t what we wanted. It has halted my progress a little and denied me the opportunity to improve on my result from Silverstone, which is a shame. Anyway, I was happy to have at least finished the race in those conditions. I suppose it was one of those bad experiences that helps you to grow stronger. At Barcelona I want to pick up from where we left off in practice at Assen and put the Dutch TT behind me. I like this track a lot, I have won here in 250 and I’m sure I’ll feel comfortable. My feeling with the bike is improving and thanks to the team and Honda I am making constant progress, the gap to the front guys is getting smaller and I am more and more convinced that I am going to be fighting for top results soon.”Kousuke Akiyoshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) says: “Assen was a complete new track for me, but I liked it. Barcelona I know, I have been there before, but that was quite a while ago. I heard that also the test rider of Yamaha will take part in the race and I look forward to the battle with him. I hope I will win it.”The following is from Yamaha…After two commanding wins in a row at Silverstone and Assen over the last two weekends, Jorge Lorenzo lands in his home city of Barcelona this weekend with a championship lead of 47 points and a plan to delight his Spanish fans with another win on home soil. He has flown the Fiat Yamaha flag alone for the last three races following Valentino Rossi’s accident in Mugello, but this weekend he will be joined by Yamaha’s experienced Japanese test rider, Wataru Yoshikawa. The two-time Japanese Superbike Champion will be riding Rossi’s M1 while the Italian is out of action, backed by Rossi’s usual crew who make a welcome return to the paddock this week.Last year the Mallorcan-born Lorenzo lost out to his team-mate Valentino Rossi in a titanic last-lap battle, which Rossi named one of his best ever wins. With the Italian still out of a ction, Lorenzo is robbed of the chance to exact revenge on his team-mate but a second Spanish win of the season, following his victory in Jerez, would be sweet nonetheless for the 23-year-old and he will be going all out to stand on the podium once again. As one of the key test riders in Yamaha’s MotoGP development programme, Yoshikawa is well acquainted with the M1-Bridgestone package. He has ridden as a wild card once previously in MotoGP, at the 2002 Motegi round, but this will be his first visit to the Montmeló circuit. The Circuit de Catalunya features one of the longest main straights in the world, watched over by a vast grandstand, which is always full to bursting from Saturday morning. The rest of the track is characterised by long radius, medium and high-speed sweeping corners, with two tight left-hand hairpins thrown into the mix. This variation combined with regular changes in camber makes the circuit particularly demandin g on chassis balance and means that front-end feel is a key concern for every rider.Jorge Lorenzo”WE SHOULD ENJOY MONTMELÓ!””Montmeló is a very special track for me, it is the closest to Mallorca and I can feel the people supporting me. Last year I lost at the final corner but now I will try to come back to the podium to celebrate with all my fans. We have a big gap in the standings and it give us confidence and allows us to be calm, but the team will be working at the same level, I am sure. We still have twelve more races, double what we’ve already had! We should enjoy Montmeló and then, after these three consecutives races, we have earned a little break – a week for a rest!”Wataru Yoshikawa”HELPFUL FOR OUR DEVELOPMENT””I’m excited about riding the M1 in Spain this week, even if I’m very sorry for Valentino’s injury. I have only ridden in a MotoGP race once, at Motegi in 2002, and this is the first time I have ridden at the Montmeló track. We can see from the team’s results this season that Yamaha did a good job with the winter development of the M1 and I am sure that these few races I will contest now will be extremely helpful for the future development of our bike.”