The MotoGP teams and riders complete a veritable tour de force this weekend as they contest the fourth race in five weekends. The event at Donington Park also signifies the end of an era for the East Midlands track, which has played host to the British Grand Prix since 1987 but will be replaced on the 2010 calendar by Silverstone, previously home to the historic event from 1977 to 1986.
The Ducati Marlboro Team have worked intensively in recent weeks to improve the overall performance of the GP9 and with two riders in Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden prepared to make the best of any situation, hopes are high of a good result at a circuit where the Australian has celebrated victory for the past two seasons. Stoner has been unfortunate to encounter physical problems during one of the most intensive periods of the season but through sheer determination he has come through it with two podium finishes and two fourth places so far. The Australian hopes he can try to make a stronger challenge at the front this time before signing off for a well-earned break.
Nicky Hayden, who has worked tirelessly alongside his team to make a breakthrough with his GP9, cannot wait to get back on track at Donington following a disappointing race in Germany where he was unable to take advantage of his best practice and qualifying performances of the season.
Livio Suppo Speaks… (MotoGP Project Director)
"We have great memories from Donington and it’s a bit of a shame that this will be the last time we race at this wonderful circuit. The GP9 has been making great progress since Barcelona and now we hope to gather the fruit of all this hard work, given that there have been ups and downs in the last few races. On the positive side is a significant overall improvement for Nicky and the fact that Casey has managed to limit the damage to his championship hopes despite not being fully fit. The negative side is that we haven’t been on the podium for two races now and Nicky came away from Germany with less than he should have given his excellent form in practice."
Casey Stoner Speaks… (3rd in the championship on 148 points)
"We did the best job we could at Sachsenring and now I’m a bit more confident about going to Donington. The best thing for us would be to have similar weather and temperature as in Germany because I think the conditions there played into my hands, as did the circuit, which has some long corners where I was able to relax a little on the bike. I’ll be happy if we can have another weekend in similar temperatures at Donington. The track has never been one of my favourites but I have had good results there. The first part is really demanding, with the long section through Craner Curves up to the Old Hairpin… but it’s actually in the slow sections where you can make passes. The bike has been going really well for the last few races even though we could do with a little more traction. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens this weekend and bring home as many points as possible."
Nicky Hayden Speaks… (13th in the championship on 46 points)
"I’ve never had amazing results at Donington but I can’t wait to get back out on track because I’m not happy with the way the last race went after the really positive practice we had. My bike is really stable under braking and that should be a real bonus at this circuit. Things have been going well lately, I’m having fun and last weekend was the first time in a long while that I’ve been up front in practice. Seeing P1 unchanged on my pit board for such a long time was a nice feeling. We’ll see what the weather is like because you never know what to expect at Donington and the track conditions are totally dependent on it."
Set to be replaced on the calendar by Silverstone next season, Donington Park hosts its 23rd and final British Grand Prix this weekend. It is a circuit of contrasting characteristics. After two high speed splits, the second half of the circuit becomes slow and tortuous. The first part, made up of the famous "Craner Curves", a super-fast right-left-right sequence requires a smooth approach from the rider and puts machine importance more on handling than outright speed. The back section, meanwhile, was added in 1986 to bring the track up to the minimum length to host a Grand Prix. It consists of three short straights, a chicane and two sharp hairpins that put huge emphasis on braking and acceleration. Setting a bike up is always a question of making compromises but at Donington Park this is the case more than ever and it puts the riders and the bikes to the test.
DONINGTON PARK CIRCUIT RECORDS
Circuit Record: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2006), 1’28.714 – 163.253km/h
Best Pole: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2006) 1’27.676 – 165.185km/h
Circuit Length: 4.023 km.
MotoGP Race 2009: 30 laps (120.690 km)
MotoGP Schedule 2009: 15:30 local time, 14:30 CET
Podiom 2008: 1st Casey Stoner, 2nd Valentino Rossi, 3rd Dani Pedrosa
Pole 2008 (wet): Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’38.232 – 147.434 Km/h
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM’S BEST RESULTS AT DONINGTON PARK
2008: 1st (Stoner)
2007: 1st (Stoner)
2006: 9th (Capirossi)
2005: 5th (Checa)
2004: 5th (Bayliss)
2003: 4th (Capirossi)
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM – RIDER INFO
Age: 23 (Born 16th October 1985 in Southport, Queensland, Australia)
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP9
GP Appearances: 122 (61xMotoGP, 31×250, 30×125)
GP Victories: 25 (18xMotoGP, 5×250, 2×125)
First GP victory: Valencia, 2003 (125)
First GP: Great Britain, 2001 (125)
Pole positions: 20 (16xMotoGP, 2×250, 2×125)
First pole position: Italy, 2003 (125)
World Titles: 1 (MotoGP, 2007)
Stoner’s MotoGP track record at Donington:
2008: Qualified: 1st. Race: 1st
2007: Qualified: 5th. Race: 1st
2006: Qualified: 8th. Race: 4th
Age: 27 (born 30th July 1981 in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA)
Residency: Owensboro, Kentucky, USA
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP9
GP Appearances: 108 (108xMotoGP)
First GP: Japan, 2003 (MotoGP)
Number of victories: 3 (3xMotoGP)
First GP victory: USGP, 2005 (MotoGP)
Pole positions: 5 (5xMotoGP)
First Pole: USGP, 2005 (MotoGP)
World Titles: 1 (MotoGP, 2006)
Hayden’s MotoGP track record at Donington:
2008 Qualified: 4th. Race: 7th
2007: Qualified: 4th. Race: 17th
2006: Qualified: 11th. Race: 7th
2005: Qualified: 5th. Race: DNF
2004: Qualified: 6th. Race: 4th
2003: Qualified: 12th. Race: 8th