Portuguese GP: Rizla Suzuki Friday notes

Solid start for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP at Estoril Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen both completed today's free practice sessions at Estoril in Portugal, pleased with their first day performances but also confident of ...

Solid start for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP at Estoril

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen both completed today's free practice sessions at Estoril in Portugal, pleased with their first day performances but also confident of improvements tomorrow.

Hopkins (P9, 1'39.007 51 laps) signalled his desire in this morning's session by posting three of the five quickest laps and finishing third overall on the leaderboard. He continued to test his Suzuki GSV-R with many different Bridgestone tyre compounds in the afternoon. Hopkins made significant progression towards the end of the day to leave him in a positive mood for the rest of the weekend.

Vermeulen is riding at Estoril for the first time and used this morning's session to acquaint himself with the Portuguese track. He improved dramatically throughout the day and set his fastest time of 1'39.907 on the last the 54 laps that he completed in the two sessions. His 13th place overall gives him a good starting point for tomorrow, as he can now get the bike set up to his liking for the circuit and Sunday's race.

Today's practice sessions were held in warm sunny conditions with air temperatures reaching 28C. The fastest time of the day was set by Casey Stoner.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more free practice session on Saturday morning before the highly competitive qualifying session in the afternoon, where riders will be going all out to secure the best starting positions for Sunday's 28-lap race. The penultimate round of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship gets underway at the earlier time of 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 15th October.

John Hopkins:

"It's definitely been a pretty decent start to the weekend for us. We've got through a lot of stuff and really started to get into some tyre testing today. Unfortunately it was a bit dirty on the track this morning, but it was a lot better this afternoon and we got a lot of laps in. We found something right at the end of this afternoon's session that helped us to go almost a second a lap quicker and we are really happy about that. We need to improve on that tomorrow and climb higher up in the field!"

Chris Vermeulen:

"It's my first time at Estoril and the track was quite slippery this morning. It's a newly modified track for this year, but that didn't bother me as I'd never been before anyway! The crew worked really well today -- they gave me a great bike to start with. I just basically went out and did a lot of laps to try to get into a rhythm and learn the track. I was just trying to go quicker and quicker all the time and my last lap today was my fastest. We have some ideas for tomorrow and with a good night's sleep I'll come back and go quicker tomorrow."

Paul Denning -- Team Manager:

"A solid day's work by all concerned today. Both the riders have done a lot of laps and put many miles on different tyre combinations - in general the team has worked in a progressive and logical way. Chris has done particularly well on his first time at Estoril. It's encouraging to see his lap time so close to the front group after only two hours on the circuit.

"John is looking for all the things you need to go faster -- a bit more grip, a bit more durability and a bit more turning in the bike. But the guys have enough experience to fine tune things a little bit for tomorrow. We will certainly be looking to improve on our positions in Saturday's qualifying in order to give us as good a start as possible in the race."

-credit: rz

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Chris Vermeulen , Paul Denning