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Canepa set for home race.

Having previously been a Ducati test rider, Niccolo Canepa has done plenty of laps around Mugello - making this weekend's Italian Grand Prix his big chance to shine.

Without the benefit of 125 or 250GP experience, the former FIM Superstock champion has faced unfamiliar circuits so far this year, taking a best finish of 15th for Pramac Ducati last time out at Le Mans.

“The beginning of the season was not as I expected because I had some problems. I need more experience and the results were bad,” stated Canepa. “Anyway, now we are in Italy and Mugello. I know this track very well.

"It is my favourite track and last year in testing I was very fast, not so far from the lap time of Casey [Stoner]. So I'm confident. The championship for me starts now. I will try to do everything that is possible to go faster."

But while Mugello may represent familiar territory, it's not full of happy memories for the young Italian - the last time Canepa tested at the track he suffered two broken ankles and a broken elbow.

Nevertheless, he's looking forward to his first home grand prix after being quick on both Superbike and grand prix machinery at the Tuscan circuit.

“Last time I came here I broke two ankles and an elbow!” he laughed. “So there are some bad memories when I think about Mugello but many, many good memories; I have the record here with Superbike, standard bike, and very close to the record in MotoGP.”

Despite failing to finish the last two rounds, team-mate and fellow MotoGP rookie Mika Kallio remains the second best Desmosedici rider after Casey Stoner in the world championship, albeit in 14th, after two eighth place finishes in the first two rounds.

In contrast to Canepa, Kallio spent seven years in the 125 and 250GP classes before reaching MotoGP, winning twelve races and finishing title runner-up in 125 in both 2005 and 2006.

“Everybody is very, very fast in MotoGP," said Canepa. "It is unbelievable for me to be here alongside these champions. I used to see them only on TV!”


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