British GP: Rizla Suzuki preview

A sort of homecoming for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP The British based Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team travels to Donington Park in England this weekend for the British Grand Prix, the next round of a so far profitable season, looking to continue with its...

A sort of homecoming for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP

The British based Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team travels to Donington Park in England this weekend for the British Grand Prix, the next round of a so far profitable season, looking to continue with its fine run of form when it arrives on home-soil.

Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins arrive in England with 72 points each -- more than both riders together had accumulated at the same time last season -- looking to strengthen their positions in the championship on a track that both of them enjoy. The two Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers qualified in second and fourth places last year respectively, and without a crash for Vermeulen and a late-race grip problem for Hopkins, could have both finished in higher positions.

The Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team is based on the south coast of England and a large proportion of the crew are also from the UK, so this is a race that is very important to the team. Rizla also began its racing partnership with Suzuki in the UK, and still has a high profile team running in the national championship.

Both racers also have a strong bond with the UK, Vermeulen competing in Britain when he first left Australia and winning the British Supersport and Superstock championships in 2000.Hopkins has family roots with the UK due to his English parentage, and although he was born in the USA, he has always regarded himself as Anglo-American. The large trackside support that he enjoys at Donington makes this feel like a home race for him.

The 4.023kms long Donington circuit is set in a natural arena in the English countryside, and few sights in MotoGP can match the whole field of bikes streaming into Craner Curves on the first lap. The track also features many other exciting corners and elevation changes over its length, and you can expect to see Hopkins getting his elbow close to -- if not touching -- the asphalt at the Melbourne Loop!

Track action for round eight of the MotoGP World Championship will begin on Friday, as Hopkins and Vermeulen take to the circuit for two free practice sessions. Saturday will have another practice session in the morning and the all important qualifying hour - to determine grid positions for the race - in the afternoon. The 30-lap race will get underway at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrsGMT) on Sunday 24th June.

Chris Vermeulen:

"I really like the Donington circuit, it was a track I enjoyed racing on in the British Championships, and I got my best dry grid position - up to that time - there last year. We did a lot of work on the GSV-R at the test after the race in Catalunya and I am now ready to get back out there and start racing again. I know what I need to do as far as qualifying goes, because as I've shown this year I can be competitive in the race, I just need to be starting from higher up the grid. I am certainly planning to change things here and I'm really looking forward to what I hope will be a successful and profitable weekend for us!"

John Hopkins:

"It's great to be coming 'home'. I feel that's what Donington is for me as I used to live close by and I have a lot of friends and family here. This is one of my favourite tracks of the year and I'm sure the new 800cc GSV-R will go well. I had a bit of a tyre problem last year but the Bridgestones have been working so well everywhere this season that I don't see that being an issue at Donington. We tested many new tyres at Catalunya and some of the stuff they had for us was awesome! We just need to get out there and start showing what we can do straight from the off on Friday!"

-credit: suzuki racing

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Chris Vermeulen , Craner Curves