Australian GP: Rizla Suzuki preview

Rizla Suzuki and Vermeulen head down under for home Grand Prix Rizla Suzuki MotoGP makes the long trip to Phillip Island in Australia for round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship, the only race held south of the equator this...

Rizla Suzuki and Vermeulen head down under for home Grand Prix

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP makes the long trip to Phillip Island in Australia for round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship, the only race held south of the equator this season.

The Team is having its best season since the introduction of the four-stroke regulations and is heading to Australia still on the crest of a wave, despite disappointing results at the last two races. John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen sit in fourth and fifth places respectively in the riders' championship, having both scored points in excess of their highest ever tallies in one season. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is in a close third position in its own title race with Suzuki in fourth in the constructors' championship despite having the joint smallest representation on the MotoGP grid. The team's haul of seven podiums - so far this year -- is also the best by Suzuki in the modern four-stroke era.

Vermeulen will be heading 'home' next weekend to the scene of his first-ever podium finish -- he was second at Phillip Island last year -- and will ride on a specially liveried GSV-R to pay homage to his personal mentor and former Suzuki World Champion Barry Sheene.

The 4.4km Phillip Island circuit is situated near Melbourne in the state of Victoria and is one of the most southerly points of Australia. As such, the weather can play an important part in the proceedings. The picturesque track is one of the most beautiful on the calendar, but its position next to the Pacific Ocean makes the chance of weather from four seasons in one day a large possibility, changing from warm sunshine to freezing rain in a short time - the event can be a real test for riders, machines and mechanics alike!

Friday will see the Rizla Suzuki men at work for the first two free practice sessions followed by a further practice hour on Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon will see Vermeulen and Hopkins going all out to secure the best grid positions during qualifying in readiness for the 27-lap race that gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 14th October.

Chris Vermeulen:

"We need to get to Phillip Island and get into the groove as quickly as possible after the last couple of tough races. I will have the new sensation of riding a bike in a different livery to my team-mate, but that is not going to improve the performance so we need to work hard right from the start and make sure that we can experience more of the good times that we have already had this season. This is a going to be a huge event this year as ticket sales are up so we are expecting a pretty crowded house at Phillip Island and we will be trying to make sure that we put on a good performance in front of my home fans. I got a podium here last year and will be looking to at least repeat that this season!"

John Hopkins:

"The last couple of events have not gone how we'd wanted, but we need to move on and give the best performance we can in Australia. We've had a couple of weeks holiday so I am fully refreshed and ready to go, so when I get on that jet to head down south I will just have Friday on my mind and getting back on the bike and trying to step up on the podium on Sunday. Chris is at home this week and it's only natural that he will want to go very well there, but he beat me in America at my home GP so I owe him one for that!"

-credit: suzuki-racing.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Chris Vermeulen , Phillip Island