MotoGP's record man Loris Capirossi has revealed that far from satisfied with a mere 300 grand prix starts, his 'dream' is to still be on the grid when the era of 1,000cc returns in 2012 – as in an engaging interview with Crash.net Radio
, the Italian admitted that he 'still feels young' and is aiming to return to the podium this year 'more than once'.
Capirossi has not graced a MotoGP rostrum since Brno almost two years ago, and his most recent victory in the premier class was in the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi, in which he took the chequered flag more than ten seconds clear of any of his pursuers. On the evidence of the way the present campaign has begun – with a distant ninth place in the Qatar curtain-raiser, his 300th start, and a DNF three weeks later at Jerez – the Rizla Suzuki star's goal looks to be some way off, but he insists progress is being made.
“Qatar wasn't as good as we had expected,” he candidly acknowledged. “We didn't go so well there – qualifying wasn't bad, but we struggled a little bit in the race – and at Jerez we decided to totally change the set-up of the bike to try to discover a new way to go. We knew we'd maybe have a tough weekend there – and it was. In the race I overtook some riders at the start and then I tried to keep position in the first few laps, but I crashed in the last corner before starting the third lap – I just lost the front and finished my race here.
“The good thing is that we worked a lot on the Monday morning as well because we had a one-day test there; we continued to develop our bike, and I think now the feeling is much better than before. We're working very hard on the settings. With the new rules this year it's really hard to improve the engine, as we need reliability and with just six engines for the whole season it's really tough for everybody. This is why we're concentrating a lot on the chassis, the electronics, the settings... We played with the weight distribution on the bike too, and I think in the end we discovered a new way of working.
“Our bike prefers hot conditions to cold conditions, that's for sure. I really hope to go not too badly at Le Mans, and then I think and hope Mugello will be quite good for us too, because the layout suits us quite well. There's Brno as well – there are many tracks that are not too bad for our bike. We improved the bike a lot during the winter and it is quite competitive, but for sure our competition is really strong.
“We have to work really hard, because we know really well what our target is – to keep Suzuki at the top. We know it's really tough to do that because there are a lot of strong bikes and riders out there, but we will try really hard. We really want to get on the podium this year – and not only once...”
The next outing on the 2010 calendar is at Le Mans – a circuit at which Capirossi finished in second place for Ducati in 2006 – and it is indeed incredible to think that the Bologna native has competed there on ten occasions in the premier class and twelve times in total, triumphing in 250cc back in 1994.
With 29 grand prix victories, three world championships, 41 pole positions, 32 fastest laps and a staggering 99 podium finishes – meaning the next will be number 100 – over the course of just over 20 seasons, it is incredible to contemplate just what the most experienced man in the sport's history has achieved, and easy to understand why his extraordinary career has enjoyed such longevity, Insisting that statistics are not what inspire him, however, Capirossi confesses that he still feels the way he did when he was just starting out – and remains as motivated and hungry for success as he has ever been.
“It's really exciting for me, because when you look at the number it's really amazing,” he acknowledged. “Three hundred GPs is a lot. When I think about testing, practice and everything, it's more than three consecutive years non-stop, but the feeling is still great. I still really enjoy riding bikes, and I don't really care about the numbers. I still feel young; I'm 37-years-old, but I'm always having to fight with 23 and 24-year-old guys. I still enjoy that, and I always try to do my best.
“[Motorcycle racing] has changed a lot. When I think back to my first season in 1990, everything seemed easier – we didn't have big sponsors, there weren't many journalists like there are now and you just raced. Now everything is more professional. I think the world is growing a lot [quicker] compared to many years ago, but for me the biggest thing is that I'm still having fun like in the beginning. That hasn't changed.
“I always say the best bike to ride is the old 500cc two-stroke, and my dream is to ride 1,000cc again in two years' time. I know that will be really tough, but I will try to keep in condition – to fight with the younger riders I need to train really hard – and I think if I'm competitive, for sure I can continue.”
Giving off an impression of 'never-say-never', one race Capirossi assuredly will be a part of is the 2010 British Grand Prix next month, to be held around Silverstone's all-new, 3.66-mile Arena Grand Prix circuit. Having become in company with team-mate Alvaro Bautista one of only a very privileged few to have sampled the layout to-date on a road-going bike, the eight-time premier class race-winner was effusive in his reflections on it.
“It's impressive,” he underlined. “It was the first time for me; I did a couple of laps, and for me the layout is great, really nice. It's a really quick track, apart from a couple of corners that are really tight and there are a lot of bumps, especially in the fast corners. The road bike rode them quite well, but with our race bike maybe it will be harder.
“To find a good set-up won't be easy, but everybody will be in the same conditions so we'll see. The layout is beautiful and quite quick for MotoGP, which is great, and in many places the fans will be really close to the track. We're quite happy with it.”TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE