Promising first day for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP in Spain2007-11-03 08:37
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins finished the first day of practice for the Valencian Grand Prix inside the top-10 today, with a promise of more to come.
Vermeulen (1'33.501, 54 laps) recorded the fifth fastest time at the end of the day's practice around the 4,005m Ricardo Tormo Circuit, after spending a large amount of the afternoon session comfortably inside the top-three. He is a big fan of the Spanish track and is convinced that tomorrow and race day will bring even greater rewards.
Hopkins (1'33.680, 57 laps) was less than two-tenths-of-a-second off team-mate Vermeulen's time, but due to the competitive nature of MotoGP field it placed the Anglo-American in 10th. Hopkins has already identified a few issues that he will be working on overnight in a bid to get the best result this weekend on his last appearance for Suzuki.
Today's practice was held in warm and sunny conditions with temperatures reaching 22°C. Newly crowned MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner recorded today's quickest time on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more free practice session tomorrow morning followed by the all-important qualifying session in the afternoon, where the battle for grid positions will be very significant at this circuit where passing opportunities will be limited in Sunday's 30-lap race, which gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (13.00hrs GMT).
"It's good to be back at Valencia, it's a track I really enjoy and I was quite quick here last year, but I had some bad luck in the race and didn't finish. The team has done a good job today and have worked really hard. The bike is in great shape and we have done a lot of laps with the same tyres and the durability of the race rubber looks very good. There are some areas we need to work on tomorrow to find that extra half-a-second to get us up the front. We'll try our best and see how we go, but I'm feeling fairly confident that we will be up there come Sunday!"
"Position wise we aren't too satisfied with today's result, but the progress we have made over the day has been quite a big step. Everybody is so close at the moment and a couple of tenths would put us in the top-five. There are few things we need to look at overnight. I have a couple of riding techniques I need to check out and we have a few things to work on with the mechanics which should help us for the rest of the weekend. The Bridgestones seem to be working really well and we will give them a thorough test for durability tomorrow. I need to qualify well tomorrow so I can be up the front from the start of Sunday's race and stay there for my last race with Suzuki."
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
"A solid day's work by both of the riders and the crews. The gaps in lap times are so small that you can't afford to be compromised anywhere on the track, and despite the fact that our guys are going quite quickly and are amongst the frontrunners, they have both got restrictions that we need to solve to make the bike easier to ride. That said it is an encouraging sign as they are already returning quite competitive lap-times and it seems we can go quite a bit faster when those details are tidied up.
"The Valencia circuit is extremely hard to pass on and all the riders are at a very high level at the final race of the year, this will make qualifying even more important tomorrow afternoon and we will be focusing on getting everything right and doing the best job we can in that hour!"
G.P. bwin.com De La Comunitat Valenciana Free Practice Classification
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1'32.968: 2. Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha) +0.116: 3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.182: 4. Marco Melandri (Honda) +0.351: 5. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.533: 10. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.712:
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office
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