Report From Ducati MotoGP Team
The Ducati Marlboro Team pair were in jovial mood as they faced a barrage of questions from the world’s media. Many of them centred around a topic that has dominated the motorcycle racing headlines for the past few months – the form and fitness of Casey Stoner.
“I’m fine and I feel great,” smiled the Australian. “I’ve been asked the same question pretty much every day since last October, which is obviously understandable, but I’m happy to reiterate that everything is okay. The lactose-free diet I’m following is proving to be effective and this is the first winter in three years that I’ve been able to train without any operations or injuries so that has been a great help. I feel we’re ready for next season, also because the test we did at Valencia following the final race of 2009 was really positive. The new ‘big bang’ firing order that the Ducati engineers have been working on is definitely a step forward: it has improved traction and handling and it has reduced the bike’s tendency to wheelie. Now we have to work on finding the right settings for the GP10 and understanding how the bike reacts to different set-up changes, which will be different to the old bike. There are a few standout rivals for this season: Valentino Rossi is still the man to beat because he is the World Champion and he’s an extraordinary rider. Lorenzo and Dani will also be there – they are both fast and I’m sure their motivation is higher than ever. I’m also sure Nicky will have plenty to celebrate this year – he had a difficult and unlucky first season with the team but he improved a lot towards the end and he was on the pace. I’d be happy for him because we have a great relationship and I think it is unusual to have an atmosphere in the garage like the one we have. There have been a few changes to the team with the arrival of Vittoriano (Guareschi) and Alessandro (Cicognani) but they are both doing a great job and I can’t wait to get back out on track for the first test of the year. The objective for 2010 is to win, as it is for everybody of course, but whether or not we manage it the most important thing is that we give it our best shot and I feel we can do that now.”
“I’m not going to start making excuses but 2009 was a very tough year for us – tougher than we expected,” admitted the typically honest Nicky Hayden. “But I am proud of the way myself and my team reacted and of the results we managed through hard work and by keeping faith in ourselves and our bike. To step onto the podium at Indy and to score consistent top five finishes in races and tests towards the end of the year, having started out fifteenth or sixteenth at the start of the year, represents huge progress. I have high hopes for 2010: I like the bike I rode in the test at Valencia and I’m pleased with the changes. Now we have to find a good base set-up that is going to work at different circuits so that we can get straight on the pace without having to change too much. Having Vittoriano, a fellow rider who knows the bike to perfection and can pick up on our feedback immediately, is a great help. It is sometimes difficult to find the limit of the Desmosedici but its potential is huge – Casey has shown that in the past and he continues to do so. Sure, he has a special connection with the bike and he is an incredible talent, but I am confident that we can make some steps forward too.”