Chris Vermeulen stormed through wet and windy weather conditions at Assen today to give Rizla Suzuki MotoGP its first pole position of the season.
Vermeulen (1'48.555, 25 laps) again showed his wet weather ability as he posted the fastest time of this afternoon's qualifying session with over a quarter of it remaining. Fresh from his third place in the wet at Donington last week, Vermeulen always looked in control and comfortable on his GSV-R over the treacherous 4.5km Dutch circuit. During this morning's dry practice session Vermeulen made big improvements to the set-up of his bike and looks in a better position now -- than at the same time yesterday - if tomorrow's race is dry.
John Hopkins (P5, 1'49.684, 28 laps) was in a front row position for a large part of this afternoon's session, only to see it snatched away from him right at the end. Hopkins was disappointed not to be starting from the front row, as his performance this afternoon certainly deserved it. He put together a long run on the Bridgestone rain tyres during the qualifying session and his times improved consistently throughout. Hopkins will start from the middle of the second row and is sure to be in contention right from the off no matter what the conditions.
Tomorrow's 26-lap race is round nine of the MotoGP World Championship and the action gets going at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT), when both riders will be looking for glory come rain or shine.
"I'm very happy to be in pole position and again it's another good result for Rizla Suzuki! It was a strong performance by both of us and a shame that John missed out on the front row right at the end. This was our first wet session of the weekend and that made it pretty difficult to get the bike set-up right, and also qualify, in just the hour. The team did a great job and the bike felt really good. It was easily capable of doing those lap-times in those conditions -- if not a bit quicker! In the dry this morning we made a lot of improvements and I feel confident now in any weather! We now have to wait and see what the weather does; it needs to be wet or dry because if it is in between here it will be awful!"
"The bike and the tyres were great in the wet today. I was happy with the all-round performance, but I'm disappointed to be just off the front row. The conditions were pretty bad at the end and it didn't really feel safe to go any quicker than I had done, but a couple of guys hung it out there and just managed to beat my time. Having said that, the middle of the second row is a good place to start and we made big steps with the dry set-up this morning. This afternoon has also given me a lot of confidence and I know that if it's wet or dry I'll be trying my hardest to get the Rizla Suzuki on the podium again!"
Paul Denning -- Team Manager:
"A superb qualifying result for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP and magnificent performances by both of the riders. I feel so bad for John in missing out on the front row. He put together a 20-lap run in the early part of the session and got into a great rhythm. He has increased his wet weather performances massively over the last couple of races and deserved a better result today.
"Everybody knows Chris' wet weather riding ability and he didn't disappoint today! He rode within his capacity but still did enough to take pole position. Thanks to everybody at the Suzuki factory and to Bridgestone for producing a motorcycle and tyre combination that is allowing the riders to show their true abilities in all conditions!"