French GP: Rizla Suzuki race report

Fighting fifth in France for Vermeulen, strong seventh for Capirossi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen celebrated his best result so far this season by finishing in an impressive fifth position at Le Mans in France today, with team-mate...

Fighting fifth in France for Vermeulen, strong seventh for Capirossi

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen celebrated his best result so far this season by finishing in an impressive fifth position at Le Mans in France today, with team-mate Loris Capirossi crossing the line in an equally strong seventh place.

Vermeulen started from eighth on the grid and made up a couple of places on the first lap. He then set three personal-best laps in succession as he moved into fifth place, and the Australian was in touch with the leaders as light rain started to fall on the 4'185m circuit. Track officials waved the white flags to signify that pit-lane was open if the riders wanted to change to their wet weather bikes, but Vermeulen - like most riders -- chose to stay out and consolidate his position. He had a couple of narrow escapes as the track surface got very slippery from the rain, but he brought the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R home safely to score valuable championship points for himself and the team.

Capirossi made a strong start from the fourth row of the grid and was up to seventh by the end of lap two. He was involved in a race long battle with a large group of riders, which also resulted in one of them pushing Capirossi off the track and on to the grass. The experienced Italian lost some places but battled back to take a hard, but well earned nine championship points.

Today's race started in bright sunshine with track temperatures at 26ºC, as the light drizzle fell the temperatures cooled off, but this didn't dampen the spirits of over 74,000 fans at trackside who were treated to a comprehensive victory by Valentino Rossi -- a win that puts him joint second, with Angel Nieto, in the all-time list of Grand Prix victories by a rider.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now stay in at Le Mans for a further day of testing, before moving on to Capirossi's home GP at Mugello in Italy on Sunday 1st June.

Chris Vermeulen:

"Well that was alright -- I guess! I'm happy with the weekend, we made some progress and we finally got some good points on the board. I am a little disappointed with fifth because I was really hoping I'd have a bit more pace to be able to fight with the front guys. I felt I was just that little bit behind and just couldn't close the gap. We are testing here tomorrow so hopefully we can try and improve a few more things on the bike, and make more steps in Mugello.

"I want to say a big thanks to my crew, they've worked out all the issues we had from China and the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R worked great all weekend and we had no problems at all."

Loris Capirossi:

"It has been really hard for me all weekend; we just couldn't go as quick as we wanted to. We made some changes yesterday and went a bit better, but today we struggled in warm-up. In the race we didn't get the result we are looking for and seventh is not our target, but we scored some good points and we must wait for it to be our moment to go quick! I was pushed onto the grass by another rider and maybe I could have had a better result, but that is racing and he has come and apologised so that's all good. Our potential is not too bad, but we still need to discover something new so we can go a bit quicker."

Paul Denning -- Team Manager:

"The Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team has made some steps here at Le Mans, and has backed those up with a good solid result and a committed performance from both riders today. Chris has really found his rhythm this weekend and in the first part of the race fought his way through superbly, from his eighth position start, into fifth. He was pushing to catch the lead group and maintaining a very close gap every lap, but just couldn't close it down to join the fight. When the rain came he nearly crashed twice and he took the right decision to bring the bike home for his best finish -- so far -- this season.

"Loris is disappointed with seventh, but it has been a tough weekend for him and he shouldn't be. He showed again today that he really wants it and will fight just as hard for seventh as he will for first. We are convinced that as we improve the bike and we get everything to a better level, that fighting spirit will allow him to target the podium finishes that he wants so much.

"After a difficult Shanghai I'd like to say well done to the team for their efforts this weekend, and let's hope this is the first step back to where we all want to be, and that's battling at the front!"

-credit: suzuki-racing.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Chris Vermeulen , Paul Denning , Angel Nieto