MotoGP: Michael Schumacher stuns in Ducati 800 MotoGP ride

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Ferrari Formula One legend Michael Schumacher has shown he is no slouch on two wheels today in Valencia with an incredible performance on Casey Stoner’s world championship-winning factory Ducati.

Seven-times Formula One world champion Schumacher has clocked an incredible best lap of 1.37.89 in a special guest ride on Stoner’s GP7.

That time is just a fraction over five seconds outside of Dani Pedrosa’s new lap record, which the Spaniard set in winning the Valencia GP yesterday. Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa’s new lap record in the 30-lap race was a 1.32.748.

Schumacher is no stranger to Ducati’s MotoGP bike as rode a 990cc Desmosedici at the Mugello circuit in Italy back in 2005.

Today he completed 58-laps and admitted he was surprised to have set such an impressive pace, and he wasn’t even using super powerful carbon brakes, preferring instead to run steel brakes normally used in MotoGP in the rain.

“It is difficult to come here and set times. I remember the last time I was riding and I was about 15 seconds slower than what you could do, so I thought maybe if I could run within ten seconds, that would nice, “said Schumacher, who rode Stoner’s bike on which the Aussie dominated on in 2007, winning 10 races to crush Valentino Rossi and Pedrosa.

He said was impressed with the performance of the 22-year-old and said: “I am very impressed. If you remember that last year no one would have bet on him at all and Ducati took the risk to take him on board. Sure he got a good bike and there is the tyre situation but he beat his team-mate and other guys on the same tyres so a big credit to him. He rode it so smoothly, so perfectly, I’m very impressed.”

Was he surprised to be so fast? “As I said I didn’t expect anything, I just wanted to be quicker than last time and I achieved this.”

Schumacher was given some useful pointers by Randy Mamola for his first ride on an 800cc MotoGP bike. “Randy is good friend and he gives me tips and explains to me what I’m doing wrong. It was nice to ride in the end together and see him and he explained to me a couple of details. It is a great help if you have an experienced guy around you, “added the German, who used special pads on the fuel tank to help him grip the bike with his legs. He said the 800 was smoother and easier to ride than the ’05 990 he previously rode, but shrugged off any suggestion that he would contemplate competing in a MotoGP race in the future.

“I’m just doing this for fun. I don’t I want to race, “said Schumacher, who at 38 is the same age as Ducati’s factory World Superbike star Troy Bayliss. “Maybe we could be team-mates, “laughed Schumacher, who won five world titles with Ferrari before retiring at the end of 2006.

Harley rider Schumacher said he wouldn’t find it difficult to go back to riding on the road after his taste of Stoner’s bike, saying: “My Harley is pretty fast. I love motorbikes so I ride motorbikes. There is a little track and I do some supermoto in Italy and several other things.”

Schumacher said that he couldn’t think of anything else he could compare the feeling of riding a MotoGP bike to, not even a Formula One car.
“I tried to find a good comparison but it is difficult to say. It is impossible to compare the two (Formula One and MotoGP), as they have nothing to do with each other. It helps you to find the line because when you drive you understand what you have to do, in principle, but not in detail. But to compare these two things is two different worlds – it is like being on earth and going to the moon.”

Schumacher ducked being drawn on the Ferrari and McLaren spy controversy that rocked Formula in 2007.

He added: “I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to explain. It was a pleasure to look from the outside with everything that was going on and it was an even bigger to pleasure to see that we (Ferrari) won both championships.”

Asked what he thought of the thrilling title between Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, Schumacher said: “The best one won.”

Ducatis are among over 23 new motorcycle launches in MCN, out Wednesday November 7, 2007


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt