Istanbul : Rizla Suzuki - Preview
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins will be back in action for the first time in three weeks when the MotoGP circus roars into Istanbul next weekend.
Vermeulen qualified in pole position for last year's Turkish
Grand Prix and will be looking to emulate that feat this year. The Australian star knows that he must do be better in qualifying to enable him to capitalise on his impressive race performances. In the first two rounds in Qatar and Spain Vermeulen qualified in 13th and 14th places, but raced to seventh and ninth respectively.
Hopkins is still recovering from the wrist injury that he sustained at the Qatar test in February. Suzuki's tough Anglo-American rider was offered the chance of surgery during the break to repair the injured joint, but chose not to go along with an operation as it would have meant a six week lay off.
The Grand Prix of Turkey is round three in the MotoGP World Championship and the 5.3km long Istanbul Park circuit is one of the most demanding and technical on the calendar. With fast tricky downhill braking sections and many elevation changes, plus one of the fastest corners in racing - which is taken at speeds in excess of 250km/h the circuit has supplied plenty of high-speed action in its two previous motorcycle Grand Prix.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday 20th April for two hour-long practice sessions. This is followed on Saturday with a further hour's practice in the morning before the all-important afternoon qualifying session. Sunday's 22-lap race gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
I have good memories of Istanbul because that is where I got my first ever pole position.
I have been a bit disappointed with the first two races as I know I can do better. The bike is improving all the time and I must improve on my qualifying. Being down on the fifth row makes the job hard work. I need to be up there with the front guys from the start and not playing catch up. So this will be a good place to start going about doing that!
My wrist is still painful, but there was no way I was going to have an operation! I would have been out for about six weeks and every race is so important that I can't afford to miss any. I will have my wrist taped up and once I'm out on the bike the adrenalin will kick in and it should all be ok. I think that at Jerez last time out I could have made the podium, if I hadn't have crashed, so I need to get my head down and keep aiming for that goal.