Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen were sixth and eleventh quickest respectively after today's free practice sessions, in preparation for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril. Hopkins (1'38.471, 49 laps) and...
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen were sixth and eleventh quickest respectively after today's free practice sessions, in preparation for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril.
Hopkins (1'38.471, 49 laps) and Vermeulen (1'39.655, 52 laps) both worked hard to achieve the optimum settings for their respective Suzuki GSV-Rs at the demanding and technically difficult Estoril circuit. The two Rizla Suzuki men were separated by less than two-tenths of a second at the end of the day, as the top 17 riders were covered by only 0.969 seconds, with championship leader Casey Stoner on the Bridgestone-shod Ducati the fastest.
Vermeulen showed a marked improvement throughout the day and in the second session took over eight-tenths of a second from his fastest time this morning. He believes there is more to come and is very comfortable with the way the bike and his tyres are working.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more practice session on Saturday morning, followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon to determine grid positions for Sunday's 28-lap race that gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs GMT).
"Going into this morning was all about working our way through our tyre allocation with Bridgestone and getting the best results for the cooler conditions. We changed some gearbox and suspension settings because the set-up for this track is not as easy as it has been at some of the circuits recently. But we've got our heads down and Stuart and the crew have done a good job in finding what we need. This afternoon we had a couple of minor mechanical glitches, but we got them all sorted out by the end and we're confident about what we can do tomorrow. If we can continue from how we ended this afternoon's session we will make some serious improvements tomorrow!"
"This is only my second time here, but I do feel a lot more comfortable now that I know my way around a bit more. The track felt slippery to me, especially after the last few circuits we've been to. Bridgestone has done a fantastic job here -- compared to what we had last year -- and the tyres are working really well. I'm feeling very comfortable with the bike and our base set-up seems to be working well. Although I am only in 11th place, all the lap times are quite close so I'm sure I can make up some places tomorrow. We still have a few changes to make on Saturday and with it being so close it will be important to get a good grid position so I can be up towards the front right from the start on Sunday."
Stuart Shenton -- Chief Technician for John Hopkins:
"We had to change a couple of little things today to get the set-up right for this circuit. We worked closely with Bridgestone to try and get the best pairing of tyres for the track and they have certainly made a huge step-up with the tyres from last year - I think we are pretty close to our tyre choice for Sunday's race. This afternoon we had a small mechanical problem with John's bike, but we identified it before the end of the session. He did finish the afternoon on his other bike and although it was set-up the same as his first bike John felt some small differences that we will be working on tomorrow. We need to tidy up some of the details and make sure we are ready for Sunday afternoon."
Tom O'Kane -- Chief Technician for Chris Vermeulen:
"Chris worked through chassis and tyre settings all day as we needed to get in as much work today as we could, because some of the weather forecasts show rain for tomorrow. He improved on his times throughout the day and he knows there is still a bit more to come tomorrow. We will be working well into this evening to analyse all the data from today to make sure that we make the correct choices in time for the race."