British GP: Rizla Suzuki qualifying report

Vermeulen splashes to the front row at Donington Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen piloted his Suzuki GSV-R to his first front row grid position of the season, as he again showed his true class as one of the world's best wet weather ...

Vermeulen splashes to the front row at Donington

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen piloted his Suzuki GSV-R to his first front row grid position of the season, as he again showed his true class as one of the world's best wet weather riders.

Vermeulen (1'39.018, 29 laps) will start from third on the grid for tomorrow's race at Donington Park after a near faultless performance on the wet 4,023m circuit that saw him in pole position several times in the hour-long session. Vermeulen had a crash in this morning's practice that saw him lose valuable track time, but Suzuki's Australian star was able to return to the track uninjured this afternoon and challenge for the front row, which leaves him well placed for tomorrow's race -- whether it is wet or dry.

Ben Spies (1'40.244, 25 laps) produced a fantastic performance on his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R as he rode the MotoGP machine in the wet for the very first time. The American Superbike Champion raced to eighth position on the grid to give him a third row start -- in-front of many experienced Grand Prix racers.

Today's heavy rain meant track temperatures never rose above 15ºC making conditions extremely difficult for all riders. World Champion Casey Stoner took pole position on his Ducati with current Championship leader Valentino Rossi second. Vermeulen's third position gave Bridgestone total tyre dominance on the front row of the grid for the first time this season.

Tomorrow's event is round eight of the MotoGP World Championship and the action gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs GMT), when both riders will be looking to score impressive results at the team's home Grand Prix.

Chris Vermeulen:

"I'm happy to be back on the front row, it's the first time this year - so it was about time it happened! The team gave me a great bike to do the job on in the wet conditions. This morning I made a bit of a mistake in the wet and crashed, so that cost me a bit of track time. It made this afternoon a bit of a gamble as far as set-up goes, but as I say my guys gave me the tool to do the job. I just went out and reeled off some laps and felt very comfortable doing those times. If it's wet tomorrow we've got a good tyre, and if it's dry we've got our tyres sorted as well so hopefully in all conditions we'll be strong -- we now have to wait and see what the weather does!"

Ben Spies:

I am pretty pleased with the result today, but I still want to be up front! I know I've got to take it step-by-step, but every session we are getting better and better again so things seem to be going good. If it's wet again tomorrow morning and the race is in the dry it's going to be pretty tough, but I think we will be able to cope with it, the crew are doing a real good job and I think everyone was pleased with how things went today. I'm pretty happy to get in the top 10 at my first GP qualifying and I've got to keep moving on from here."

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"I am really pleased that Chris has made the front row. The crash this morning was not an ideal way to prepare for qualifying and he was able to put that behind him and do a really solid job this afternoon. Casey did a great time at the end and I think we could have been second with another lap, but Chris made the right decision - when he thought he'd received the chequered flag - to abort the chance of a final lap right at the end of the session. Well done to him and the crew on the front row result, it was well deserved and puts Chris in good shape for tomorrow.

"As for Ben, I think it is an amazing result today and a performance that he should be proud of! It doesn't matter what the conditions are and what the circumstances are, it's the same for everyone out there - he's gone quicker today than some of the world's very best riders on his first visit ever to Donington and his first time on a GP bike in the wet. If the weather is dry tomorrow I think we are all very realistic that it will be tough for Ben to run the pace of the riders around him, simply because of his lack of experience of both the bike and the circuit, but his confidence will certainly have been lifted by today's result. We just hope he now brings the bike home, enjoys his first Grand Prix and continues with his learning process.

"We're all looking forward to seeing Loris here tomorrow. He phoned straight after the session to congratulate the guys on the qualifying positions, and I think his presence will give us another boost towards challenging for a good result tomorrow."

-credit: suzuki-racing.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Ben Spies , Chris Vermeulen , Paul Denning , Casey Stoner