Front row start for Vermeulen at the Italian GP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen will start tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix from second place on the grid, as he showed his wet weather skills once more at a damp Mugello ...
Front row start for Vermeulen at the Italian GP
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen will start tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix from second place on the grid, as he showed his wet weather skills once more at a damp Mugello circuit.
Vermeulen (2'01.381, 16 laps) got to grips with the treacherous conditions early on and topped the leaderboard for large parts of the hour-long session. The Italian track again looked more like the canals of Venice as heavy rain started to fall just before the riders went out to start qualifying. The conditions were made even more difficult as the rain gave way to bright sunshine and strong winds that dried the surface very quickly. Vermeulen will be making his first front row start of the season as he continues with the good form he showed in the rain at Le Mans. His time was only bettered by Casey Stoner on the Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
John Hopkins was again very fast in this morning's dry final free practice session, as he posted the seventh quickest time and looked very consistent throughout. In the difficult afternoon conditions he couldn't quite reproduce his fantastic wet weather performance of yesterday. Suzuki's Anglo-American star will start from the third row as he recorded the ninth fastest time of the session during his 18 laps.
Sunday's race is round six of the MotoGP World Championship and the 23-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT), where Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will be joined on the grid by the Rizla 'Paper Control' girls who will also be on patrol in the paddock all day!
"The session started out in pouring rain, but with the wind it dried up quite quick. I came in with 25 minutes to go and said I needed to put on a slick tyre as there was a lot of grip, and then it started raining again! I thought it would dry out a bit more than it did at the end, but it didn't. I tried to go a bit quicker for the last few laps, but my timing wasn't right and I missed out on another full lap. The Bridgestone wet tyres worked well again and being on the front row gives me a good chance in the race, whatever the conditions may be."
"We made a great start to our programme yesterday and followed that up this morning - we had a clear idea of where we needed to be for this afternoon. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to make the improvements as the rain came down again. I am not happy to be ninth, but considering what a lottery it was at the end I am quite satisfied to be on the third row as it was easy to crash out there! I am confident I can get a good start tomorrow and be running near the front come rain or shine!"
Paul Denning -- Team Manager:
"Not an easy qualifying session for everybody concerned. It was difficult to get the timing exactly right and to have the best tyres in the bike for the conditions. The track was constantly changing from flooded, to a clear dry line, and it made it almost a guessing game.
"Chris was flying and made sure that he used his wet weather skills to the full. It was another great result for him. It gives him a fantastic opportunity to capitalise in the race whatever the conditions.
"John is disappointed with ninth, but he dug in and he gets away from the line as well as anyone. I'm sure he will be looking to take big steps forward in the race tomorrow, he has the ability to get a good result here."