Ducati Marlboro Team riders Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau return to Europe from a run of three ‘flyaway’ races to contest the French GP, the first of a crucial run of six events at classic European racetracks.

Both riders travel to Le Mans hoping for some decent weather after ever-changing conditions plagued their progress at the last two GPs, in Turkey and China. But despite a difficult day at Shanghai last Sunday, Spanish GP winner Capirossi still holds second overall in the World Championship while Gibernau is still tenth. With Ducati and Bridgestone tyres improving the team’s technical package step by step, the team is aiming to get back up front in Europe, with a little help from the sun!

LORIS CAPIROSSI, Ducati Marlboro Team rider, 2nd overall (59 points)
“Now we return to Europe, to racetracks that everyone knows, so we’re entering a very interesting part of the season. It’s going to be exciting because the championship is very tight, there are a lot of riders close on points and a lot of fast new riders. We just hope for some sun! Our bike continues to improve, as always. We have done a lot of work on engine management, so it is more rider-friendly in wet conditions. When the tyres suit the track, we have an incredible bike. We just need keep on believing and working hard. I don’t like the Le Mans track, it’s not one of my favourites, even though I’ve won the 250 race there. The layout isn’t at all technical, so it’s not much fun to ride, it’s just gas, brake, gas, brake. But we will see, because they have made some changes to the first corner and the first chicane, so maybe it will feel different to ride.”

SETE GIBERNAU, Ducati Marlboro Team rider, 10th overall (25 points)
“Le Mans is a weird track because although I don’t really enjoy it, my results there have always been pretty good. And I guess I’d rather have good results at a track I don’t really enjoy than have bad results at a track that I do enjoy! I’ve won at Le Mans in the dry, I’ve won there in the wet and I was second last year, so maybe I am starting to like the place a bit. Everyone knows it’s a stop-and-go kind of a circuit, so you need good acceleration and good braking performance. We go there hoping to be competitive and hoping for better weather because we are entering a crucial part of the championship, with races at tracks which everyone knows well. Looking at the season so far, we need to keep our heads down, keep learning, maybe trust in our own instincts a little more and try to have a better weekend than we had at the last two races. Ducati and Bridgestone are working very hard, so we know our time will come.”

LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project manager


“Of the four races so far, the weather was consistent throughout practice at two races, where we picked up a win, a third and a fourth place, and kept changing from wet to dry at the other two in Turkey and China, which affected our results.
Like us, if you only have two machines with the same tyres on track, this is maybe a bit of a handicap when you have so little dry practice time, because the more bikes you have, the more feedback you get, so the easier it is to find the right set-up, something which we were unable to do on the last two occasions.
Apart from this, the team and all of our technical partners, Shell Advance in particular, are doing a great job, Bridgestone too, with many new tyres on the way for Le Mans. So now we hope for some consistent weather in France; either rain, where we were quick in qualifying both in Turkey and China, or sun, which will allow us to chose the tyres for the race in the best conditions!” 
Situated in the Sarthe region a few hours south west of Paris, Le Mans is one of the world’s most famous motorsport venues, legendary for its 24-hour races. The Bugatti circuit – very different to the longer 24-hour car track – returned to the bike GP calendar in 1999, since when the event has built a huge following in bike-mad France. The circuit layout is very stop-and-go, with plenty of slow turns where braking and acceleration performance are primordial. Riders and their engineers therefore concentrate on honing their machines’ braking stability, as well as improving rear-end traction for the numerous hairpin exits.
Lap record 2005: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 33.678s (160.635km/h, 99.814 mph)
Pole position 2005 : Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 33.226s
Age: 33 (born April 4, 1973)
Lives: Monaco
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP6
GP starts: 235 (64xMotoGP, 59×500, 84×250, 27×125)
GP victories: 26 (4xMotoGP, 2×500, 12×250, 8×125)
First GP victory: Britain, 1990 (125)
First GP: Japan, 1990 (125)
Pole positions: 40 (7xMotoGP, 5×500, 23×250, 5×125)
First pole: Australia, 1991 (125)
World Championships: 3 (125: 1990, 1991, 250: 1998)
Le Mans 2005 results: Grid: 10th. Race: 7th
Age: 33 (born December 15, 1972)
Lives: Switzerland
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP6
GP starts: 164 (68xMotoGP, 76×500, 19×250)
GP victories: 9 (8xMotoGP, 1×500)
First GP victory: Valencia, 2001 (500)
First GP: Spain, 1993 (250)
Pole positions: 12 (11xMotoGP, 1×500)
First pole: South Africa, 2000 (500)
Le Mans 2005 results: Grid: 4th. Race: 2nd



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