Ducati may never have won its home Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, but it has beaten the four Japanese manufacturers at their home grand prix for the last three years running.

All three victories came at the hands of the team's former rider Loris Capirossi, who clinched Ducati's first victory with Bridgestone rubber at Motegi in 2005, while last year's event also saw team-mate Casey Stoner clinch his and Ducati's first ever MotoGP World Championship.

"Motegi is a circuit with so many great memories for us," said Ducati project director Livio Suppo. "The first victory with Bridgestone in 2005, which came so many months after our first outright victory in MotoGP at Barcelona in 2003, has particular significance.

"Then there was the victory in 2006, when Loris was fighting for the title, and of course last year. It was entirely down to Loris because he picked the perfect moment to change bikes [on a drying track] and take his third straight win there on the same day Casey was crowned world champion!

"All in all, Motegi is a special place for us and even though we go there not in as good shape as last year there are still four races left and we're glad that one of them is at this track."

Stoner looks set to lose his crown at Motegi on Sunday, with Valentino Rossi needing only a third place finish even if Stoner wins, but the Australian claims to have more pressing concerns - after scoring just 13 points in the last three races.

"I've had a mixed bag of results at Motegi - some good, some bad. Obviously the best memory is of last year with the title victory but as always I prefer to look to the future rather than reflect on the past," said Stoner.

"The track has always given me the impression that it is more suited to cars than bikes because it is full of hard braking and acceleration zones and there aren't many flowing sections. Anyway, it is a fun track and I think it can be good for our bike and tyres."

There has been talk that Stoner's wrist injury, a scaphoid break sustained in 2003 that never healed properly, might cause him to miss the end of this season, but the four-time 2008 race winner revealed that it seems to be improving.

"The wrist hasn't given me great problems over the last week and seems to be improving on the last couple of weeks so I can't wait to get back on the bike and try to get a better result than we've managed lately," he declared.

Team-mate Marco Melandri will be riding in his first and last Japanese Grand Prix for Ducati and the Italian, who has scored just 19 points from the last seven rounds, will be out to impress his future Kawasaki bosses.

"Motegi isn't a bad circuit, in fact I like it quite a lot. It is an unusual layout - it doesn't flow and is more of a 'stop and go' track. The surface is really good and I always enjoy riding here," said Marco. "The race at Indy was particularly difficult and I'm sure we can do much better than that. Of course I don't expect the final four races to be easy but I hope I can manage to finish the season with a decent run of form. Every GP is a different story so I hope that at Motegi, where Ducati have won for the last three seasons, things go really well."


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