News 19 May 2010

MotoGP: Stoner holding high expectations into Le Mans

Stoner is confident his Desmosedici GP10 will be strong at Le Mans.

Stoner is confident his Desmosedici GP10 will be strong at Le Mans.

Australian Casey Stoner believes that he and the Ducati Marlboro Team can produce their best results yet at Le Mans in France this weekend, as the MotoGP World Championship enters its third round of the 2010 season.

Le Mans, widely known as a typical ‘stop and go’ circuit, has proven to be a challenge for Ducati in the past although the factory has celebrated podiums there on two occasions, with Stoner in 2007 and former rider Loris Capirossi in 2006.

However, the new specification GP10 machine has given the Ducati Marlboro Team plenty of reason for optimism as they look to tackle the unique demands of the French circuit this weekend.

“Because of the stop and go nature of the circuit at Le Mans you need a bike that is very stable on the brakes but also agile and quick in corner exit, especially in the slow sections,” Stoner commented. “In the past we have usually managed to be fast and run at the front but we’ve never come away with the results that we would have liked.”

Stoner currently sits eighth in the championship after crashing out at the season opener in Qatar, looking forward to improving that position with a good result on Sunday.

“This year I think we can have higher expectations than the past two seasons there and we will certainly give our best to meet them,” he concluded.

Teammate Nicky Hayden has enjoyed a solid start to 2010 with a pair of fourth places at the opening rounds, but has never been on the podium at Le Mans.

“Le Mans is probably the most difficult circuit on the calendar for me because I think it is the only place I’ve never been on the podium or the front row at, so it will be interesting to see how we go this year,” the American explained.

“As I have said a few times we have made a good start to the season and put two good races together but we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep working because our objective is to consistently perform at a high level and close the gap even further to those front guys. The last couple of tenths are definitely the hardest to find but I feel comfortable with the bike and the team, I’m enjoying myself and I feel confident about the rest of the season.”

New team manager Vito Guareshi is confident that the team will see an improvement this weekend compared to previous years.

“We have never produced amazing results at Le Mans but this year I am expecting a good race from both our riders – partly because for various reasons in the past we probably haven’t capitalised on our potential there and also because we are more competitive in general now,” the former test rider said.

“Casey and Nicky are in great shape and the GP10, with its more linear power curve, will put less stress on the tyres at this track and should also be easier for the riders to handle around this track.”