French GP: Rizla Suzuki Friday practice report

Strong start for Vermeulen despite Le Mans weather Chris Vermeulen began his Le Mans Grand Prix weekend on the front foot by steering his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to fourth place in the first practice session. Vermeulen looked good from the start...

Strong start for Vermeulen despite Le Mans weather

Chris Vermeulen began his Le Mans Grand Prix weekend on the front foot by steering his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to fourth place in the first practice session.

Vermeulen looked good from the start and topped the leader-board during the early part of the session. He looked increasingly likely to better his best time of 1'36,301 - that he recorded during his 16 laps - but the weather intervened and rain caused all the riders to return to the pits.

Loris Capirossi (1'37.224, 17 laps) was also making improvements and had just made several modifications to his bike - which he was sure would improve his ninth position - before he too was forced to head for shelter as the rain began to fall on 4'185m French circuit. Vermeulen and Capirossi both tried to get back into action later on in the hour-long session, but conditions were just not safe enough for the slick race tyres, so they had to abandon any chance of improving their times.

Heavy overnight rain and cold air temperatures of only 13C made conditions difficult for all involved, but a strong wind dried out the track in readiness for the start of this afternoon's session - which saw the riders return to a favoured hour-long session instead of the 45-minutes that had been introduced this season. Andrea Dovizioso on his Factory Honda posted today's quickest time.

Rizla Suzuki has one more practice session tomorrow morning, followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon to decide grid positions for Sunday's 28-lap race.

Chris Vermeulen:

"It has been a good start to the first day here at Le Mans. Conditions were difficult as it was very cold and damp - not like what I've been used to back in Australia recently! I really enjoy it here, I've had success before and I'd love to repeat that this year. For a first session we've done pretty well and the bike seemed to be good straight out of the box. We've tried a few new things from the Factory on the electronics side and these seem to be working well. We want to try to get the most out of the tyres in all conditions so we experimented a bit with chassis and suspension set-up, but unfortunately due to the weather we didn't get the full hour to try everything. We just hope that tomorrow is dry so we can continue where we left off today."

Loris Capirossi:

"It has not been too bad today considering the conditions, but luckily I did get the opportunity to test two completely different settings on the bike. The first one was not perfect but the second one was definitely a lot better. I came in to make a couple more modifications that I'm sure would have helped, but the rain came and we couldn't test everything that we wanted to. I now hope it either stays dry tomorrow and race-day or it rains on both, because a mix of the two will be no good at all. We will just have to wait and see what happens!"

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"The idea of reverting to an hour of practice didn't work out today as the weather managed to restrict us to even fewer laps than we could do in a decent 45-minute session! However, the laps that both guys did manage to complete were quite positive in terms of information and feeling on the bike. Chris's start point is a little bit stronger than Loris's, but there is a particular problem that the guys know how to fix for Loris tomorrow. All the riders seem quite close on lap-time potential so it will be important for us to maximise anything that will help Chris and Loris find those extra tenths-of-a-second."

-credit: rizla suzuki

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Loris Capirossi , Chris Vermeulen , Andrea Dovizioso , Paul Denning