Against the backdrop of the Tuscan countryside the press conference for this weekend's Italian MotoGP took place at the Mugello circuit on Thursday afternoon.
First to speak was Casey Stoner, who currently leads the championship by 28 points.
“We're coming off some good races, and I absolutely love this track,” said the Australian, who praised the venue. “The new surface is going to be a lot of fun to get used to and a bit better for the racing I think.
"Every year you come here you see big improvements. This is one circuit even when things aren't going well you can still really enjoy riding the track. I've always felt quite comfortable at this circuit.”
With three wins from the last four races – he finished second last weekend at Assen – Stoner's form has been formidable in 2011 and he is also pleased to see team-mate Dani Pedrosa back in action as well.
“I feel good and am ready for this weekend,” stated Stoner. “The team and the riders have been extremely strong this year so we've done a fantastic job as a whole team. Now that Dani's back we can expect a lot more competition and it's going to be tougher than it was before.”
A home race for Valentino Rossi, this year's Mugello round has an added emphasis for the Italian as it is his first at the circuit with Ducati.
It is also a track he has an unmatched record at, having won for seven straight years between 2002 and 2008 - but broke his leg at last season.
“This track is fantastic and this weekend is something special compared to the other races, for personal reasons,” he said. “The track is one of the best, the atmosphere during the weekend is always very exciting.”
The start to the 2011 campaign has been tough for Rossi and his team, but he hopes the Mugello circuit will suit the new Desmosedici GP11.1.