Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins continued with his great run of form today as he stormed to a brilliant fourth place at the Catalan GP at Montmelo near Barcelona, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Hopkins was fifth on...
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins continued with his great run of form today as he stormed to a brilliant fourth place at the Catalan GP at Montmelo near Barcelona, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process.
Hopkins was fifth on the grid and got of to a great start, as he and three other riders made a break away right from the beginning. Hopkins swapped places with Valentino Rossi in the early stages as the two riders went head-to-head for the second race in succession. Hopkins posted the fastest lap-time of the race on lap eight as he battled to stay with Rossi, championship leader Casey Stoner and local hero Dani Pedrosa. Try as he might the Anglo-American just couldn't find his way past and brought his Rizla Suzuki home in a very creditable fourth, to consolidate his sixth place in the championship standings.
Chris Vermeulen had a tough start to the race as he was down on the fourth row of the grid. He also got boxed in early on and lost a couple of places, but the Australian showed his race ability to the full again as he made his way through the field. He nearly grabbed sixth place right at the end of the 25-lap race, but was just beaten to the line by Loris Capirossi. Vermeulen stays in fifth in the championship and Rizla Suzuki MotoGP strengthens its third place in the teams' title race.
Today's event was held in very warm sunshine with temperatures reaching over 30C. The huge Catalan crowd of over 112,000 were treated to a thrilling race that saw Stoner on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati just edge out Rossi in the final few yards of the race.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now stay in Catalunya for a two-day test before it moves on to its 'home GP' at Donington Park in England for round eight of the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday 24th June.
"I've got to that point where I am now disappointed not to be on the podium, obviously I'm happy to be in the top five but I want more! It was a tough race and I held in there with the first three for as long as I could, but with about eight laps to go I started to lose a bit of pace and as hard as I tried I was losing that little bit more each lap - so I had to settle for fourth place. We're really happy with the Suzuki and Bridgestone tyre package this season and the tyres are working a lot better than they did last year - so no complaints there at all. Now we have a couple of days testing here and I am looking forward to bettering my times and then moving on to the next two tracks that I think will really suit the GSV-R800. I am sure that we will soon have a good chance of getting on the podium every weekend!"
"I got a reasonable start from the fourth row, but then got boxed in a bit and dropped back a couple of places. I had a tough fight with Alex Barros early on and found it really hard to get past his Ducati - as it's pretty quick in a straight line! I got through the field and the bike felt very good and consistent right till the end. I had a battle with Loris Capirossi on the last lap, and although I got past him he just went by me on the next straight. Seventh place from 11th is not too bad, and we now have lots of work to do in the next couple of days to make sure we are stronger for Donington!"
Paul Denning -- Team Manager:
"As Team Manager it is not easy to say exactly how I feel after this race! Both the guys rode very well, John set the fastest lap, and fourth and seventh place is a good result at this circuit for the whole team and for Bridgestone. It is a measure of how our expectations have risen that both John and Chris want to finish higher. But we have no right to complain - for Chris to come from right down the field and almost grab sixth on the final lap, and for John to race so hard against the top three in the championship can't be bad. When the combination works to our advantage, I think we now have the bike, rider and tyre package to win one of these things in the dry!"