Istanbul : Rizla Suzuki – Day Two
John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen will start tomorrow's Grand Prix of Turkey from either end of the third row of the grid, as the two Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers qualified in seventh and ninth respectively.
Both Suzuki men were regularly
amongst the fastest riders on race tyres with Vermeulen clocking the third quickest time and Hopkins the sixth in this afternoon's session, before all competitors started using qualifying tyres.
Vermeulen will be starting from his best grid position of the season so far and he hopes that the improved place will give him a better chance of battling with the front runners from the start.
Hopkins suffered a minor crash in this morning's free practice session, but was unhurt during the fall. The tough Anglo-American picked himself up and was able to resume practice on his second bike as he continued preparing for Sunday's race.
Today's qualifying was held in dry and sunny conditions with track temperatures reaching 34°C. Valentino Rossi on his factory Yamaha took pole position for tomorrow's 22-lap race, which gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“It's not exactly where I wanted to start the Turkish Grand Prix, but I think from the front of the third row I can get a pretty good start. Throughout the sessions today we worked really hard on race set-up. I had a bit of a tumble this morning, but was able to quickly bounce back from that. We have found a good set-up for tomorrow's race and I think we'll be able to run at the front! It will be a case of getting a good start as it will be a bit difficult to pass here as it's so slippery off-line.
There are a couple of good braking spots where you might be able to get past, but it will be tough. I need to put my head down, run at the front and go for the podium!”
“It was a much better qualifying than the previous two races - we've made a big step forward, not only in qualifying but in race set-up as well. The whole bike has improved over the weekend and I approached this GP a little differently, and from that we seem to have been well inside the top 10 on both days. The bike is working well and the team have done a great job with it. We've done a lot of laps on both front and rear Bridgestone tyres and they seem to stay very consistent so we hope they will continue to do that tomorrow. Starting from the third row will make my job a bit easier, but I still need to get through quickly and onto the front group if I want to get on that podium!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Neither John nor Chris got quite the result they wanted, but that doesn't disguise the fact that they have improved dramatically over the weekend and equally have a good race pace. Both the guys – fingers crossed – look to be increasingly competitive for tomorrow's race. Bridgestone will be slightly disappointed with the qualifying tyre performance, but they need to be congratulated for improving the grip and durability of the race tyres so dramatically – which is far more important.”