French GP: Rizla Suzuki race report

Vermeulen races to season best result so far Chris Vermeulen made the most he could of very difficult conditions at Le Mans in France this afternoon to record his best result of the season so far. The 28-lap race was declared wet after showers...

Vermeulen races to season best result so far

Chris Vermeulen made the most he could of very difficult conditions at Le Mans in France this afternoon to record his best result of the season so far.

The 28-lap race was declared wet after showers had soaked the 4'185m circuit and Vermeulen put his wet riding skills to good use by moving up into fourth place early on. As the strong winds and sporadic sunshine dried the track Vermeulen delayed his decision to come into the pits to change to his Suzuki GSV-R with slick tyres, for as long as possible. After he came in to change bikes he rejoined the race two places further down the field and although Vermeulen managed to get up to fifth, he wasn't able to hold that place and had to settle for sixth at the chequered flag.

Loris Capirossi took the brave step of coming in to change to dry tyres very early in the race and the gamble nearly cost him dearly as twice he lost grip on wet patches and ran off the track. Capirossi continued to battle on and although he never found a comfortable rhythm he still brought his machine home in eighth to score valuable points.

Today's race was watched by almost 76,000 fans at trackside who saw Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo storm to an impressive victory that also takes him to the top of the riders' championship.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now travels to Italy for the fifth round of the championship. The Italian Grand Prix will be at Mugello in Tuscany on Sunday 31st May and Capirossi will certainly be aiming to give his home fans something to cheer about.

Chris Vermeulen:

"It was a really difficult race - which I am sure everyone else will say. We started on wets and we hadn't done any wet testing so it was really tough for the engineers to get the bike set up for the conditions. They did a really good job and the bike felt reasonable, but if it had been a practice session we would certainly have come in to make changes. When the track started to dry out I saw Rossi crash and thought that it wasn't dry enough for slicks yet, so I stayed out a bit longer - probably a couple of laps too long - and it made things a bit difficult towards the end. We finished sixth and that is our best result so far this season and it gives us some good points. Now we are looking to improve on that in Mugello."

Loris Capirossi:

"We changed to a slick tyre really early on in the race and it was still a bit too wet to do that. It wasn't really a mistake, more a gamble that didn't work, as I made a couple of mistakes on the damp patches and ran off. I tried to keep my rhythm, but I found I had the same problem as yesterday that when the track dried out I just didn't have enough grip. I tried hard, but Colin went past in the last few laps and I just didn't have enough to attack him back. We have now finished our work here and we must try to take the good points from it and think about the future and the next couple of races."

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"It was a typically interesting Le Mans Grand Prix today and the team did a good job by giving the riders the best equipment they could for wet and dry conditions. Our wet pace wasn't too bad but we have struggled with rear grip in cold and changeable conditions so far this season - which is something we have to improve, not Bridgestone - and today was no different. Our competitors seem to be able to get more traction than us and that told in the final result. Both Chris and Loris gave their maximum as always, and we've scored some reasonable points. Now we have to look forward to Loris's home race in Mugello in two-week's time and hopefully further updates to increase our performance in Barcelona soon after that."

-credit: rs

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Loris Capirossi , Chris Vermeulen , Jorge Lorenzo , Paul Denning