Loris Capirossi

After 14 years in GPs, Loris Capirossi knows more than most about the sport. Now riding a wave with Ducati he's more fired-up than ever

You'd be hard-pushed to find a happier man in the MotoGP paddock this season than Loris Capirossi. On his own admission he feels like a new man having been completely rejuvenated by his success with the new Ducati MotoGP squad. And the diminutive Italian says his enthusiasm for racing is strong as it was when he first started Grand Prix racing - way back in 1987. He's riding as well as ever, but he promises, 'you ain't seen nothing yet!'

"This year is a dream situation for me. It's like I have a completely new life, and I feel as happy as I was in my first year of racing.

"The Ducati project is very exciting and it's great to be part of its development. At last I can get a bike designed just the way I want it, and I have a big factory working behind me helping me to do that. It's the first year for the machine, and already the results are unbelievable but the potential for the Ducati is even higher, as long as we are patient.

"Because the Desmoseidici is new for this season, we expected some problems - like the one we had at Brno. It was unfortunate for it to happen so late in the race, because I'd been saving the tyres for a push towards the end. But these sorts of things have happened to me many times in my life, so at this moment I am okay. We'll learn from these things and get stronger."

Logical and philosophical thinking seem to be the trademark of the former 125 and 250cc world champion, and his quiet and unassuming character is immediately evident when you first meet him though this modesty masks a ruthless competitive streak. Something that was clearly underlined in days gone by when he deliberately downed rival and teammate Tetsuya Harada to seal his 250 title for Aprilia in 1998.

The Italian firm was less than impressed with the tactical argy-bargy, and Capirossi was promptly shown the door. The sacking lead to him riding for Honda in the quarter-litre class the following year, and he's ridden continually for the Japanese brand since then, until he signed for Ducati this year.

But returning to work with an Italian factory once more has really suited the 30-year old, who now lives with his new wife Ingrid in Monaco.

"For me it's much easier to work with an Italian team. Of course the chief advantage is that everybody speaks the same language. But it's the structure and mentality of the team that makes them so much easier to work with compared to the Japanese.

"With Ducati, I'm in direct contact with the factory. And if I want to make some changes then I pick up the phone, discuss things, and usually have them sorted after just one or

two weeks. This is one of the reasons why we've made so much progress this year - it's because we can make things happen very quickly. With the Japanese the communication takes much longer. I've worked with many Japanese teams and their mentality is very strange, and so difficult to understand at times. There are many chiefs with different responsibilities and, after you speak with one of them, they have to go off and discuss it with the rest before anything can be done.

This can take much longer to get things organised.

"At Ducati we work as a very close group with everyone working towards the same thing. We have a very good focus and objective as a team - to win. I think it's one of the secrets to us doing so well this year. For example, Troy (Bayliss) and I don't have any team orders and we help each other a lot. He's got much more four-stroke experience than me (Loris had never ridden a four-stroke until the Ducati ride came along), and he's helped me with that. I've helped him with chassis set-up, as there's a lot more adjustment available on GP bikes than superbikes. And I've helped him at the tracks he doesn't know - we happily share lots of information with each other.

"Troy is a good rider and a very nice man, and when the bike is not good he tries even harder. I'm not surprised he rides well in MotoGP as last year's World Superbike championship was very hard for him with his battles with Colin (Edwards). It will be tough for Neil (Hodgson) in MotoGP next year because the riding level is so very high now. But I think he will adjust okay in time because he is a good guy, and the four-strokes are much easier to ride than the old 500s."