First lap incident costs Vermeulen podium challenge Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen was involved in a first lap crash at today's Turkish Grand Prix, almost definitely costing him a place on the podium - his race pace after he and ...
First lap incident costs Vermeulen podium challenge
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen was involved in a first lap crash at today's Turkish Grand Prix, almost definitely costing him a place on the podium - his race pace after he and rejoined the race was as good as any other rider on the track.
Vermeulen was caught up in a four rider crash, caused by Kawasaki's Olivier Jacque and also involving Dani Pedrosa and Colin Edwards. Vermeulen's bike was lying on top of Pedrosa's and the determined Australian dragged it off, got back on and re-joined the race. The Rizla Suzuki GSV-R sustained some damage in the accident but Vermeulen battled back to secure 11th place at the end of the race, setting the fastest time on the penultimate lap. The accident cost Vermeulen over 22 seconds from start to finish and his final race time was only 20 seconds off second place.
John Hopkins was involved in an equally exciting race. The 23-year old Anglo-American battled all race long for the podium, but the highly competitive 800cc championship meant he had to fight for every place and eventually brought his GSV-R home in sixth place, just ahead of World Champion Nicky Hayden.
Over 40,000 people watched Casey Stoner on the Bridgestone-shod Ducati take victory at a sunny Istanbul circuit, and also witness Bridgestone have the first six bikes across the line for the first time ever in GP history.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now travels to the Far East for round four of the MotoGP World Championship at Shanghai in China on Sunday 6th May.
"I got a bit boxed in on the first lap and immediately got involved in a battle, but we soon straightened things out. I had just passed Alex Barros when another rider took out Edwards and Pedrosa right in front of me and I had nowhere to go but down. That was the worst part of the race, but luckily my bike was still running and lying on top of Pedrosa's. I grabbed the clutch, pulled my bike off his and re-joined the race. My handlebar was bent and the fairing was broken but everything else seemed to be fine. I gave it a lap or two to see if everything was ok and then just got my head down and went for it. I started to chase after the other guys and do some fast, consistent laps. I kept it as smooth as I could and managed to get up to 11th. I know I set the fastest lap near the end so who knows what might have happened if I hadn't have crashed. We now need to take this forward to China, qualify well and make sure we don't get knocked off again!"
"It was certainly a dogfight out there! I would firstly like to thank -- and congratulate -- Bridgestone. They have done a great job here especially on my behalf. Last year I had to pit for a new tyre and this year they had the top six places, so well done to them. I got a decent enough start and made some early passes, and I got my head down and really got stuck into the race. At about half distance I got involved in a hell of a fight where everything just kept turning upside down. One minute I was in seventh then up to fourth or third and then back to sixth. I had to work for every bit today and would definitely like to have gone for that podium place, but we got some good points. Now it's time to go to China, I got a fourth there last year and I'm really looking forward to going back. It's a nice flowing track and I think the Suzuki GSV-R and the Bridgestone tyres will work well!"
Paul Denning -- Team Manager:
"Rizla Suzuki MotoGP had high hopes yesterday of a great result here. We did see a good performance, but unfortunately it was not a great result. For me the ride of the GP came from Chris Vermeulen, he had enough pace to win the race! To pick himself up and achieve such fast lap-times immediately, and with a damaged bike, was just incredible. It also culminated in him setting the fastest time on the penultimate lap of the race. It just shows what a true racer he is and if everything goes his way he certainly has the ability to challenge MotoGP's established stars on a regular basis.
"John rode a brilliant first lap to get to third position, and was involved in a frenetic battle throughout the race and we are all a bit disappointed that we couldn't quite get that podium we are after. Nonetheless the Suzuki GSV-R has worked really well here in Turkey, Bridgestone has dominated all weekend, now let's go to China and carry on the good work!"