Vermeulen maintaining the Japanese tyre manufacturers unbroken run of front row starts this season. Vermeulen's second place scores the rookie Australian his best dry qualifying performance of the season so far. His team-mate John Hopkins made it...
Vermeulen maintaining the Japanese tyre manufacturers unbroken run of front row starts this season. Vermeulen's second place scores the rookie Australian his best dry qualifying performance of the season so far. His team-mate John Hopkins made it two Suzukis in the top four with a strong fourth place as Bridgestone riders locked out the second row of the grid.
Having opted to sit out yesterday's second practice session, Loris Capirossi returned to form in fine style by taking his Ducati to fifth place on the grid. Alex Hofmann was forced to settle for 15th place in only his second race weekend for the Ducati team.
Last year's 250cc winner at Donington, Randy de Puniet, rode his Kawasaki strongly throughout the one-hour qualifying session, setting encouraging lap times on race tyres before claiming sixth on the grid, one place ahead of his Japanese team-mate Shinya Nakano.
The performance of the Bridgestone tyres in Donington today underlines the massive improvements made by the team year-on-year. Chris Vermeulen's second-placed qualifying time of 1m28.158s today represents a 1.1s improvement on the best Bridgestone qualifying lap from 2005 (John Hopkins' 1m29.231s), whilst Dani Pedrosa's 2006 pole time is just two-tenths-of-a-second quicker than that of Valentino Rossi in 2005.
Shinji Aoki, Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development: "I am very happy with today's results which demonstrate the progress that Bridgestone has made compared to last year. We developed a special compound qualifying tyre for Assen which gave us good results last weekend. We tried the same compound in free practice this morning, but felt that the higher track temperatures better suited an even softer compound, which we had also prepared for the British Grand Prix. This decision proved well-founded with all of our teams able to perform competitively and qualify in the top third of the grid. There are, however, a couple of rivals showing exceptional pace in race trim and this will make our race afternoon more difficult, but we saw some very positive race tyre runs from our riders in this afternoon's qualifying session, which show our tyres are capable of consistently lapping in the low 1m29s. Therefore we are looking to race near the front pack and aim to finish in some good points-scoring positions, something we had hoped for at the start of the weekend."