The season starts now for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen get back into action next week when they will be testing the latest version of the 800cc Suzuki GSV-R at Sepang in Malaysia.
Following the seven-week test ban, both riders will be eager to get back on the bike to continue from where they left off in Spain last year - Hopkins and Vermeulen were both amongst the fastest riders at the tests at the end of last season. Suzuki's riders are raring to go and both of them have spent the winter months training hard back in their respective native homes of America and Australia. They have undertaken a thorough fitness programme during the break to prepare themselves for the 18 race season that lies ahead.
The prototype Rizla Suzuki GSV-R800 race bike will be put through its paces at the Sepang circuit from Monday 22nd January and all team members are keen to get to grips with the latest version of the bike that showed such promise during the post 2006 season tests.
Sepang is a circuit well known to Hopkins and Vermeulen. The Malaysian track is favoured with all the MotoGP teams for testing as it offers a bit of everything, from long straights to tight twisty sections and fast flowing corners over its 5.5km length.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will follow the Malaysian test with another in Australia the week after. The test schedule will then feature the two Official MotoGP tests in Qatar and Spain during February. The first round of the MotoGP season is at Losail in Qatar on Saturday 10th March.
"Right now we've just got to maintain the good level of performance that we seemed to have in the first 800 tests. We've got to work really hard in these tests, because once the first race comes, we've got to be ready! We all need to be prepared. I think Suzuki is ready, and myself - physically and mentally -- I'm totally geared up and looking forward to it very much. We're going to be working a lot with Bridgestone and testing a lot of tyres over race distance and working on the durability of not just the tyres but the bike as well. We just all need to pull together and make it happen!"
"This test can't come soon enough for me, it seems ages since I was on a GP bike and I'm eager to get back. We have loads of work to get through and the season starts in just over a month so we all know it's going to be tough. I have been training hard during the break and feel fitter than I have ever been before a season starts. I've been in regular contact with my Crew Chief -- Tom O'Kane -- and he and the rest of the team are as revved up as I am! We know that Suzuki has been working hard to find us some more horsepower, and make lots of detailed improvements, to make sure we hit these tests running."