Rizla Suzuki completed a full day's practice at Sepang in Malaysia despite tricky conditions caused by the track surface and the weather. Chris Vermeulen (2'04.455, 38 laps) and John Hopkins (2'04.494, 32 laps) finished the day in eighth...
Rizla Suzuki completed a full day's practice at Sepang in Malaysia despite tricky conditions caused by the track surface and the weather.
Chris Vermeulen (2'04.455, 38 laps) and John Hopkins (2'04.494, 32 laps) finished the day in eighth and ninth places respectively and both riders are confident that they will be able to improve on those times tomorrow. Team Test Rider Nobuatsu Aoki (2'05.234, 34 laps) was 15th overall on the early prototype version of the 2008 GSV-R that he was using here this weekend. Aoki's bike showed an impressive top speed today as he finished fourth overall in the speed-trap on the long start-finish straight at the Malaysian circuit.
The recently re-surfaced track at Sepang and intermittent showers made traction very difficult for long periods of both sessions and all three riders worked hard with Bridgestone to find the correct combination of tyres to suit the varying conditions. Vermeulen, Hopkins and Aoki will all be hoping for dry sessions tomorrow as the more rubber that is laid down from all the bikes' tyres will assist with grip and improve overall handling and rideability. Today's quickest time was set by Randy de Puniet on his Bridgestone-shod factory Kawasaki.
The Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers will have one more free practice session on Saturday morning with the qualifying session in the afternoon. Sunday's race is round 17 on the MotoGP calendar and the 21-lap race gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (07.00hrsGMT).
"It was a bit of a strange day here at Sepang, there was a new surface and it was quite slippery in the beginning, not just for me but for everyone. Bridgestone did a great job with the tyre selection and we found some compounds that worked in our allocation - they seemed to behave very well on this surface and have a good durability. This afternoon started wet and it was hard to find a dry line, but my team improved the bike a lot during the session and every time I went out it seemed better and more comfortable to ride. Every lap I felt like I was getting quicker as I got used to the new surface. Hopefully we can improve more tomorrow and move further up the order!"
"The track surface this morning was extremely bad, it was very slick and like glass out there. This afternoon with the wet weather we only really got half a session with a dry track, but once we got up to speed the surface was a lot better than this morning and as more rubber gets down on it it will just improve more. We went through some tyre testing and a bit of set-up, but we will be working hard tomorrow and hopefully it will stay dry and we will be a lot stronger. I am pretty positive that we will be able to improve on our position by a decent amount!"
"We have brought the 2008 prototype here to race for the first time; the reason is to get the chassis set-up for race conditions. We have tested a lot in Japan but that is nothing like setting it up at a race weekend. Right now it is working pretty good and as you can see the top-speed is good because the engineers have been working hard on the aerodynamics of the bike, so that helps with the speed. We still have space to improve tomorrow and to try and race with Chris and John over the weekend is our target. We need to get some good settings for tomorrow and see where we can go from there."
Paul Denning -- Team Manager:
"It was a pretty average day at the office today for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP. No big dramas but nothing too exciting to shout about either. However, we know the potential of the GSV-R and our riders at this track and, despite the new surface, without question we didn't quite perform at our maximum today. Tomorrow we should have a better starting baseline for the bike in chassis setting and various other areas and I believe we can be a lot closer to the fastest times than we were today."