After breaking into the MotoGP top ten in his fifth race start, in front of his home fans last time out at Mugello, Niccolo Canepa has high hopes of another good weekend in Catalunya.
Mugello was the first circuit this year that the Pramac Ducati rookie knew well, but he can also count on previous track time in Barcelona, having taken part in the second and final day of last year's post race test as a Ducati test rider.
On that occasion, using an early version of this year's GP9, Canepa set the sixth fastest lap time out of 13 riders on track and he hopes that the information from one year ago will prove useful.
"Last year I was in Barcelona for the first time for a one day test and I found myself at ease straight away,” said Canepa, who finished ninth in the wet/dry Mugello race. “I registered interesting lap times with the GP9 and found a good base set up. If we can find the same balance for the bike this time I am sure that we will be able to have another good weekend. At Mugello I did a nice race and I hope to keep repeating that performance during the rest of the season."
Team-mate and fellow rookie Mika Kallio made an impressive start to the year with two eighth places, but has only scored three points in the three races since.
"In Barcelona I have achieved a good result only once, with the third position in 2005 in the 125cc class, but who knows, hopefully things will get better in the MotoGP class,” he said. “In the last races we have been really unlucky, we have to go back working like in the first two races and I am sure that in this way we will be able to fight again with the best riders. I am trustful, I have all I need to do well, a great bike and a great team."
Canepa and Kallio will have access to the carbon fibre GP9 swingarm this weekend (see separate story).