Strong first day for Vermeulen and Rizla Suzuki MotoGP in France Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's Australian star Chris Vermeulen had a positive first day's free practice, in readiness for Sunday's French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Vermeulen (1'34.630, 55...
Strong first day for Vermeulen and Rizla Suzuki MotoGP in France
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's Australian star Chris Vermeulen had a positive first day's free practice, in readiness for Sunday's French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Vermeulen (1'34.630, 55 laps) topped the time sheets in both this morning's and this afternoon's sessions, before finally recording the fifth fastest time of the day, just 0.403 seconds behind the day's best time set by championship leader Dani Pedrosa.
Team-mate Loris Capirossi also topped the time sheets during both sessions, as the Suzuki GSV-R showed its potential around the 4,185m French circuit. Capirossi (P11, 1'35.256, 58 laps) couldn't quite match Vermeulen's performance today, but will study the data this evening to help him improve on his position tomorrow.
Today's practices were held in dry but overcast conditions and, with the forecast for heavy rain during part of this weekend, the team must be ready for any conditions during tomorrow morning's final free practice session and the afternoon's qualifying, as they prepare for Sunday's 28-lap race.
"Le Mans is a special track for me after my first Grand Prix win here last year. I have great memories and I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I think we have got the base settings about right, we progressed a lot in China -- despite our misfortune in the race -- and we learnt quite a bit about the GSV-R. The bike has worked really well here from the beginning and although we made a few modifications we are really pleased with where we are at the moment. We tried a number of tyres from our allocation and things seem to be quite positive on that side as well. I still think we have some room for improvement tomorrow. We'll try a few more things and hopefully move up the order!"
"I struggled a bit too much with the bike today and I never found a good set-up, but we have a good setting in the team already because Chris went much better than me and we will look at his data and see if it can help us tomorrow. We still need to get some more control out of the bike and we will try a couple of different things on Saturday. I am quite happy with the performance of the tyres, so we just need to sort out a couple of other things and I'm sure we'll be up with the front guys. We have to keep working hard and I need to improve a lot in sections three and four as I'm really slow through there, but I know what is needed and I will be going for it tomorrow!"
Paul Denning -- Team Manager:
"The team has good memories of Le Mans after Chris's incredible win here last year in the wet, but today we were grateful that the weather held off and we could continue to improve the GSV-R in the dry conditions. Chris had a disappointing Shanghai, but it clearly hasn't affected him at all, and this has been his most competitive Friday this year. He has been consistently fast and has built up his level step-by-step and he'll be looking to move even closer to the podium pace tomorrow.
"Loris is missing a bit of time through the middle section of the track -- compared to Chris -- and here a few tenths makes a huge difference to your position. The guys will be studying the difference between the two riders in those sections and Loris's crew will be hoping to find some improvements to help him take the next step."