Loris Capirossi might now be the most experienced rider in grand prix motorcycling history, but even as he enters his 21st campaign in the sport since debuting in 125cc all the way back in 1990, the Rizla Suzuki star insists he is 'as focussed as ever', 'still really enjoys' his job and retains 'unfinished business in racing and a few more milestones to reach'.
When the 2010 MotoGP World Championship revs into life at Losail on the second weekend in April, Capirossi will be making his 300th GP start – the mark of an extraordinary career that has seen him triumph 29 times, nine of them in the premier class.
The veteran Italian may not be rated as one of the all-out favourites to add to that tally in Qatar, but after training hard throughout the enforced winter break to make sure that he is in peak physical condition heading into the forthcoming season, he is clearly up for the fight.
Preparing now to put his fully-liveried Rizla Suzuki GSV-R through its paces for the first time since November during the group test this week at Sepang in Malaysia – the first of three vital pre-season outings, and around a near-perfect circuit layout with its enticing mix of tight turns, fast sweeping corners, two long straights and usual good weather – Capirossi is palpably ready to get down to business once again, and eager to erase the memories of his first podium-less campaign in 2009 since 1992.
“It feels like a very long time since I was on the bike,” the 36-year-old Bologna native confessed, “and I just cannot wait to start riding again. I am even having trouble sleeping, because I am so excited about getting back to work!
“I know the guys at Suzuki have been working really hard this winter, so we will hopefully be able to get on the pace – or close to it – from day one at Sepang. We are looking forward to a good package, and I am also going to the factory after the test to do some work with the guys in Hamamatsu to try and make the bike the best it can be in time for the start of the season.
“After 20 seasons, I am as focussed coming into this year as I have ever been and still really enjoy everything to do with MotoGP. I certainly feel like I have unfinished business in racing and a few more milestones to reach, so this test is the start of my preparations to making them happen.”