Chris Vermeulen put his expertise around the Laguna Seca circuit to excellent use in qualifying today to take pole position for this weekend's US Grand Prix on his Bridgestone-shod Suzuki. Vermeulen dominated the qualifying hour with his final...
Chris Vermeulen put his expertise around the Laguna Seca circuit to excellent use in qualifying today to take pole position for this weekend's US Grand Prix on his Bridgestone-shod Suzuki.
Vermeulen dominated the qualifying hour with his final three runs on qualifier Bridgestone tyres separated by just one-tenth-of-a-second. All three laps would have claimed the pole position time, re-emphasising the impressive performance of the young Australian, who twice won at Laguna Seca in Superbikes back in 2004.
It was his second pole position of the 2006 season following success in the wet around Turkey and bettered his previous dry qualifying best from Donington when he started from second place on the grid. Vermeulen also becomes the first Bridgestone-shod rider to take the prestigious pole position for the second time this season, in turn bringing Bridgestone's pole tally for 2006 to five.
His team-mate John Hopkins also proved the Suzuki team to be a force this weekend by securing fifth place on the grid just three-tenths from Vermeulen's supreme pace.
Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano worked hard with the Bridgestone engineers today to find the most suitable tyre specification for his bike. A strong eighth place in qualifying this afternoon puts him in better shape for tomorrow afternoon's thirty-lap race. Randy de Puniet will start his first ever race around Laguna Seca from fifteenth place.
The two Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau will start from 13th and 16th places respectively after a difficult weekend continues for the Italian squad.
Bridgestone vows to continue its efforts into tomorrow morning's twenty-minute warm-up session to ensure each of its three teams and six riders are in the best position possible to take points away from Monterey tomorrow afternoon with tyre consistency a focal point of race preparation. With today's blazing track temperatures of almost sixty degrees and beach-worthy heat of nearly forty set to persist for the remainder of the weekend, the newly resurfaced Laguna Seca circuit will undoubtedly have a say in the outcome of tomorrow afternoon's GP.
Chris Vermeulen Suzuki US GP Pole Sitter
"It is a bit faster than a couple of years ago in Superbike that's for sure; you know everything rushes up a bit quicker. I really enjoy this track and I had two wins here in 2004 on the Superbike. The Suzuki seems to be working really well and the Bridgestone tyres were working awesome. We have 32 laps tomorrow afternoon and it could still be anyone's game."
Shinji Aoki - Bridgestone Motorsport - Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development
"Congratulations must go to Chris and the Suzuki team who have shown a stunning pace here at Laguna Seca. Chris is clearly revelling in his previous success here and truly dominated qualifying this afternoon. He set pole three times over towards the end of the session as each of his qualifying runs was consistently quicker than his nearest challengers. In terms of race pace, the Suzukis completed a long run test today which gave pleasing results. Results showed consistency in race trim and I believe both John and Chris are ready to race. We will however carry out diligent race preparations in warm-up tomorrow morning to be sure. We still have some important work to do with our other two teams Kawasaki and Ducati in order to assist them make their bike-rider-tyre package work more competitively. We also have to take into consideration the extremely hot weather that looks set to continue into tomorrow. Although the track is improving daily since its resurfacing, the hot temperatures will also have an important role to play both in terms of race distance and grip levels. So far so good but there is still a long way until the chequered flag and all to play for."