Portuguese GP: Rizla Suzuki race report

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins battled his way to sixth place at a pulsating Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril today. Starting from the fourth row and back in 10th place, Hopkins got another fantastic start and was up into sixth by the ...

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins battled his way to sixth place at a pulsating Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril today.

Starting from the fourth row and back in 10th place, Hopkins got another fantastic start and was up into sixth by the first corner. He hung on to the pack in front but was unable to find a way past fifth placed man Marco Melandri as the leading four began to pull away.

Hopkins tried all he could to get past Melandri and did manage it later on in the race, but the Anglo-American star made a small mistake and Melandri came back past almost immediately. Hopkins collected 10 points for his efforts today and now moves up into fourth place in the riders' championship.

Chris Vermeulen had a tough afternoon as he was unable to get the start he needed from the fourth row and was relegated to 16th position early on in the race. The Australian's never-say-die attitude shone through and he fought his way up to 12th position, before a vibration issue with his bike caused him to lose a place and he brought his Suzuki GSV-R safely home in 13th.

Today's race was held in warm and sunny conditions and a crowd of 41,566 witnessed former World Champion Valentino Rossi win one of the most exciting races of the season with Dani Pedrosa second and current championship leader Casey Stoner -- on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati - third.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now travels immediately to its 'home' Grand Prix in Japan for round 15 of the MotoGP World Championship at Motegi on Sunday 23rd September.

John Hopkins:

"I got a great start which is becoming a bit of a regular feature - so I need to keep that up! I made up as many positions as I could at the start, but I got stuck behind Marco and Nicky and they were getting kind of crazy at the beginning -- they were all over the place passing each other. From then on Nicky pulled away and Marco was just gapping me coming out of the corners and I couldn't find a consistent line to enable me to get up close enough to be able to pass him. I did get by him towards the end but I made some mistakes and he came back past me. The Suzuki worked great and the Bridgestones - compared to last year - were awesome and congratulations to them for getting on to the podium. It's now time to go to Japan. I know the Suzuki and the Bridgestone tyres will work well at Motegi so I can't wait to get there. I went back into fourth in the championship today, but lost a bit to Dani so we'll have to see if we can claw him back a bit in the next couple of races."

Chris Vermeulen:

"I didn't get a good start and got boxed in early on. The bike worked well and we had found a solution to the chatter that we had been suffering this weekend. I felt like I was riding well and pushing hard and I made me way past a few of the guys. Then towards the end of the race I got a very strange vibration and went backwards. I got a couple of points, but I now have to look forward and head on to the next race."

Paul Denning -- Team Manager:

"John did well today to grind out a decent result from what has been a tough weekend for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP. He rode a great first lap after a fantastic start, but he just couldn't get past Marco, and a top six result at least adds to his points tally and keeps him in with a shout of challenging further up the table over the remaining four races.

"Chris had a really difficult weekend -- by his recent high standards. We just didn't get it done in practice or qualifying, and even though he picked his pace up in the middle of the race he experienced some significant problems later on which meant all he could was bring the bike home and pick up a couple of points. I would like to thank all the crew for their efforts this weekend, especially Chris's guys who had a massive workload, but got it done efficiently and without any problems. We didn't get a great reward for their efforts but let's hope we do so next weekend in Japan!"

Credit: rs

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