Rossi reversed his wet qualifying woe to hunt down and pass the 21-year-old late in the Dutch TT, reducing the points difference between them to 21, but Stoner is still ahead five wins to three as MotoGP 2007 reached its midway point.

"We start the second half of the season still leading the championship and very much looking forward to the next nine races," declared Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo. "During this period there are several circuits that suit our machine package, so that is a positive for us. The Sachsenring is quite a strange circuit, quite tight in places and with no big straights, but we have always gone quite well there, so we go into this race feeling fairly confident of a good result."

Having only failed to finish on the podium twice from the first nine rounds, Stoner is also confident of another strong weekend although, having never ridden his Bridgestone-shod Ducati at the twisty track before, he remains cautious.

"Every race we are still learning about the set-up of the bike, especially when we go to different types of circuit. The Ducati and the Bridgestones have been working well at pretty much every circuit, so when we get to Germany we'll just concentrate and keep doing what we've been doing," he said. "I got my first-ever podium at the Sachsenring, the track is fun on a 125 but it's a little bit more difficult to negotiate some of those turns on a MotoGP bike.

"You definitely need good side grip because through a lot of those long corners you need to keep the gas open as long as possible. You also need to get your head around those uphill and downhill corners - coming down the hill into those fast lefts gets a bit scary, you have to make sure your suspension doesn't bottom out, then you head back up the hill and then down again. As you come over the top at turn 12 the rear gets very light and wants to wriggle around, so you really need some traction over the top there," he revealed.

The factory Ducati squad certainly won't be able to exploit top speed next weekend, but Stoner's team-mate Loris Capirossi is hopefully he'll be able to finally return to the podium after a run of disappointing races.

"We go into this race after a couple of difficult weekends at Donington and Assen. But this is racing, sometimes things don't go your way and the only answer is to keep cool and keep working to make things better," he explained. "We have been making some improvements to the bike over the last few races but so far we haven't been able to turn these improvements into a good result."



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