Japanese GP: Rizla Suzuki race report

Bad luck robs Vermeulen at Motegi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP riders Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen raced their Suzuki GSV-R's to seventh and 10th places respectively at today's Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi, a result that could have been so ...

Bad luck robs Vermeulen at Motegi

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP riders Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen raced their Suzuki GSV-R's to seventh and 10th places respectively at today's Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi, a result that could have been so much better but for an electrical fault that robbed Vermeulen of a higher place.

Vermeulen made a great start and was in a podium position in the early part of the race, but an electrical fault relating to gear shifting caused Suzuki's Australian star to drop back through the field as he struggled to come to grips with difficulties in selecting gear. As the race progressed he managed to adapt to the problem and challenge for a higher finish. Vermeulen passed James Toseland for ninth on the final lap, but the gear-change issue meant he was unable to hold the position and missed out on the line by a little over a tenth-of-a-second.

Capirossi got boxed in at the start of the race and was relegated back to 11th position on the first lap. He set about battling his way through the field and consistently set personal fastest laps during the early part of the race. Capirossi made it up to seventh place, but by then the lead pack was too far away and he settled into a solitary race to bring his machine home for his first points of the season.

Today's weather was very changeable again as torrential rain in the morning threatened the day's proceedings, but the storm clouds gave way to blue skies and bright sunshine in time for the race. This presented a number of problems for all the riders, with so little dry practice being available over the weekend. Jorge Lorenzo took victory on his Yamaha in front of over 41,000 fans at trackside, a result that also lifts him to the top of the riders' championship.

Rizla Suzuki now travels straight back to Europe for the third round of the season at Jerez in Spain next weekend, when both riders will certainly be looking for a change of fortune in their favour.

Chris Vermeulen:

"I'm really disappointed today, because I got a good start, the bike felt good and I thought a decent result would be possible. We used the hard rear tyre for the race and that was a bit scary on the first lap as I was worried about what it was going to do! I pushed as hard as I could and tried to hang on to the back of Valentino. From about the second or third lap I started to have a problem shifting gear heading into the turns and it made it difficult to stay consistent. I felt like I'd got it under control, but then the problem got worse from about lap six as I lost all shifting up and down without having to shut the throttle or use the clutch - so it was quite difficult! Other than that the bike worked really well and I felt like I could have challenged somewhere close to the front, but that's all ifs, buts and maybes and we now have to make sure what caused the problem today never happens again! If we can keep the speed we've had recently we will go to Jerez in a positive frame of mind and if we can iron-out all the little things, then I am sure we can start to challenge for podiums!"

Loris Capirossi:

"I am disappointed with seventh, because this is not our proper position as we have a better potential than that. This winter we went very well because we had enough time at tests to work on the bike, but here this weekend we did one dry practice and everything else in the wet. We never found the best setting and we started the race with one we hadn't tried here. The bike was not too bad, but I never really found a good rhythm and feel from the tyres. I want to say that I am really sorry to all my team and everybody that has been working so hard this weekend. We need to go better than that and this weekend we just didn't perform well enough!"

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"Chris and Loris both made a big effort today, but the results weren't what we were hoping for at Suzuki's home Grand Prix. The race was run at a relatively slow pace and everybody was suffering from the same lack of grip, but the settings gamble we took to improve things for Loris just didn't work out. Having said that, at least we now have some points on the board - and a finish under our belts - for Loris.

"The race was particularly disappointing for Chris when the technical problem made the bike very difficult to ride. It took him a few laps to adapt and get back to a reasonable lap-time. A competitive result looked on the cards and I was pleased to see that Chris was angry - as well as disappointed - at the end of the race, because he knows the potential was much better than today's result. He has performed well all weekend - in every condition - and deserved more today!

"We haven't got long to wait to put things right. Both the guys went well at Jerez earlier in the year and we're looking forward to getting back to work as soon as possible."

-credit: rizla suzuki

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