Vermeulen fearful of Ducati threat

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Aussie Chris Vermeulen is fearful that the Japanese factories will be humbled again by Ducati in this weekend’s Shanghai GP in China.

The impressive Shanghai circuit has two huge straights, including one that stretches for 0.7 miles, and factory Suzuki rider Vermeulen reckons it could be another Ducati top speed blitz.

Compatriot Casey Stoner has won two out of the first three races of the 2007 MotoGP world championship and leads the series by 10-points from Italian Valentino Rossi. The main feature of Stoner’s maiden success in the season’s opening round in Qatar was the huge top speed and horsepower advantage his factory GP7 V4 had on the straight.

And most people are predicting more of the same in Shanghai, not least Stoner’s rivals who have all voiced fears that they will be powerless to stop Ducati’s brilliant start to the new 800cc era.

Former World Supersport champion Vermeulen said: “They are going to bring in a rule for the Ducati to have a horn warning us when they are going to come past us. All the Japanese factories are working their hardest to get their bikes working but Ducati has done a great job. If you can make up time on the straight then that’s free time. Anyone can do it because you don’t have to worry about making passes in the corners. It is a concern for Shanghai. Like Valentino said, his Fiat couldn’t keep up with the Ferrari in Qatar and that’s about the way it is. It is a concern without a doubt going into this weekend. Looking at the speed of the Ducati we have got to do something. We are competitive with everybody else but pretty much at every track so far Stoner has got 10ks on us.”

Vermeulen is hoping he can bounce back from the disappointment of the last race in Turkey when he was taken out by Olivier Jacque on the first lap.

While he was able to remount and finish 11th, he was left to ponder what might have been on a day Bridgestone dominated rivals Michelin by claiming the top six places.

Vermeulen added: “A couple of my mechanics added up the times and said that over the final 19 laps I lost three tenths to Casey (0.3) and that’s after three laps when I got going. I wasn’t with him the first lap so if I wanted to have a chance of racing him I would have to catch him and that’s a different story – but I would have had a good go at second. I thought I had a chance at the podium but we move on and will try and get a better result in Shanghai.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt