French GP: Rizla Suzuki qualifying report

Vermeulen just misses second row start Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen will start tomorrow's French Grand Prix from the front of the third row after narrowly missing out on securing a second row start at Le Mans today. Vermeulen has...

Vermeulen just misses second row start

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen will start tomorrow's French Grand Prix from the front of the third row after narrowly missing out on securing a second row start at Le Mans today.

Vermeulen has looked impressive all weekend on the 4,185m Bugatti Circuit and posted consistently quick laps throughout this morning's final practice session and in the hour of qualifying this afternoon. His best time of 1'34.676 from his 31 laps in the qualifying session gave him seventh place on the timesheets and only 0.702 seconds behind pole-setter Dani Pedrosa.

Team-Mate Loris Capirossi (1'34.839, 29 laps) will start alongside Vermeulen on the third row as he recorded the eighth quickest time this afternoon. Capirossi worked hard to get the confidence he needed in his Suzuki GSV-R and now believes that the extra performance he needs to be competitive must come from him tomorrow.

This afternoon's qualifying was held in sunny conditions with all the riders able to complete the full hour, as the rain stayed away. Track temperatures rose to 28C, but a strong, cool wind meant that air temperatures never climbed above 16C.

Vermeulen and Capirossi take to the track for tomorrow's 28-lap race at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) hoping that the expected rain doesn't materialise and that they are both able to get a good start and battle with the front runners.

Chris Vermeulen:

"Things went quite well all day today and this morning we took quite a big step forward with the bike. We tried to get everything working right as quickly as possible, but we had a sprinkle of rain this morning - so that was a bit of a pain - and we didn't quite get all the things done that we wanted to. This afternoon though was completely dry and the sun even popped its head out - which was nice! We got through everything we wanted to test on the bike and we got a bit more feeling which led to more confidence in the machine, then it was just down to doing fast lap-times. For me the soft rear tyre was the best for doing that and it felt quite consistent so it was the best tyre for qualifying - it might even be the race tyre. I am a bit disappointed to be back on the third row, but I've been getting good starts recently, so I need one of those tomorrow!"

Loris Capirossi:

"We had a bit more luck today with the weather and that certainly helped us to get the settings for the bike sorted. We did a lot of good work on the bike and tried a couple of different settings to see which worked the best for here. In the end I pushed a bit harder and the lap-time improved, but I still have a problem in the last section - especially in the final couple of corners - and I am losing a bit of time there. We will analyse the data this evening to try to make the improvements I need for tomorrow and I know it is not so easy for me in the last part, but I am sure I can make it up. The team has done a great job this weekend and now it is up to me!"

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"It was a good team performance today. Loris's guys have definitely improved his confidence in the chassis and the overall package since yesterday and he was able to make a decent step forward. Chris has continued to run quick and consistent lap-times all weekend and looks very clean and confident on the bike. We would have preferred to have been on the front two rows and we know that if it is dry tomorrow we will be looking for a bit more pace so we can run competitively with the front guys."

-credit: rizla suzuki

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Loris Capirossi , Chris Vermeulen , Paul Denning , Dani Pedrosa