MotoGP: Rizla Suzuki Makes Strong Showing during Season Opener in Qatar

loris-capirossi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s Chris Vermeulen equalled his best-ever result at Losail in Qatar tonight by racing his Suzuki GSV-R to seventh place.

Vermeulen got a good start from the third row of the grid and was up with the leading group early on. As the race settled down he was involved in a number of battles with various riders and fought all the way to the line to score his – and Rizla Suzuki’s – first points of the 2009 MotoGP season.

Loris Capirossi had a less successful race, as he crashed out on lap eight. Starting from fifth on the grid Capirossi got off the line very well and was up into second place by the first corner – a position he held for the first two laps. As the race wore on he experienced a dramatic loss in front tyre performance and eventually lost the front-end of the bike and crashed. Suzuki’s tough Italian walked away unhurt from the high-speed crash and will be fit for the next round in two week’s time.

Today’s race was held in dry and fine conditions with track and air temperatures both in the 20ºCs, stark contrast to yesterday’s torrential downpour that led to the race being postponed and rescheduled for today. Ducati’s Casey Stoner led the race from start to finish to record his third successive victory at the Qatari circuit.

Rizla Suzuki now travels to Suzuki’s home Grand Prix in Japan, which will be held at the Motegi Twin Ring Circuit on Sunday 26th April.

Chris Vermeulen:

“I made a good start and got into a good group of guys straight away and I was hoping to stay there. The track conditions were a bit different to what it had been all weekend and it was very different to the test which was how I had the bike set-up, and to be honest I really struggled for front-end feeling. Towards the end of the race the rear tyre performance dropped off as well so that’s something we’ve really got to work on. It’s hard though with the lack of testing in race conditions and also on race weekend’s with the sessions being shorter and there being less of them, it makes it very difficult to put race distance on the tyres and to iron out any other problems. It was not the result we wanted because we were hoping to be in the top-five. We have got quite a bit of work to do to catch up to the podium so we need to put our thinking caps on and go to Motegi and have a better performance!”

Loris Capirossi:

“I feel really sorry for the whole team, because all winter we have worked so hard and have gone quite well so this was hard to take. It was really strange today because our practice has been good, but in this evening’s warm-up I had a big problem with chatter, this hadn’t happened all weekend and then during the race it was the same. The front tyre didn’t work like normal either, I had done 25 to 30 laps on the same tyre with no problems and the feeling had always been good, but today after just five laps it felt like it was destroyed! This race is over now and we have to concentrate on the next one and find out why the things that happened today occurred.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Without doubt it was the right thing for MotoGP to stay on and race here at Qatar tonight, but unfortunately for Rizla Suzuki our bike worked quite differently than it had done all weekend for both riders. We suffered from a serious lack of front grip and some bad vibration which restricted both the guys. Clearly some of our competitors were far less affected by the different conditions and the Team – and Factory – will be working very hard to understand the difference in performance between tonight and the rest of the weekend. We will now go to Motegi and push 100% to perform a lot better at Suzuki’s home GP!”