Mugello : Suzuki - Day 1
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's John Hopkins recorded the second fastest time during today's wet free practice and third in the dry, during preparations for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
This morning's session was held in dry, but overcast conditions
at the 5.2km Mugello circuit. Hopkins (1'51.022, 27 laps) was consistently competitive on his 800cc GSV-R and clocked the third quickest time, only 0.2 seconds behind the fastest rider Dani Pedrosa on a Honda. Chris Vermeulen (1'52.125) was just over a second behind Hopkins this morning, as the Le Mans race victor clocked the 13th quickest time during his 23 laps.
The two Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers had to endure totally different circumstances in the afternoon as the skies opened and torrential rain flooded the Tuscan circuit. The track had a river running through it and the session was delayed by 10 minutes to allow some of the standing water to clear.
Hopkins and Vermeulen both got into a good rhythm in the tricky conditions and topped the leaderboard during the session. In the end Hopkins just got the better of his team-mate as the two Rizla Suzuki riders finished in second and third places respectively. Casey Stoner on a Ducati was quickest, as the Bridgestone rain tyres again showed their performance potential by filling the top three places.
Today's wet session gave the team some valuable time to test wet settings for the new 800cc Suzuki GSV-R and were very pleased with the direction and improvements that were made.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more free practice session tomorrow morning before an hour of qualifying in the afternoon to decide starting positions for Sunday's race.
Round six of the MotoGP World Championship will be raced over 23 laps and gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
John Hopkins : "We got another wet one today! It was good to have a completely wet session where we could work in detail on the bikes, and we managed to get a really good rain set-up towards the end. The standing water started to subside a bit, I got behind Chris and was able to get into a good rhythm - it worked out pretty well. I tried both bikes in the rain with different settings and we got a really good feeling from them. I was also pleased with the direction that we went this morning. We were comfortable and the Bridgestone tyre that I used showed good consistency and grip. So whatever the weather is over the rest of the weekend -- wet or dry -- we're going to be ready and I've got a really good feeling about Mugello!"
Chris Vermeulen : "We got a bit of both today with the wet and dry. I thought I would struggle a bit here, but I went quite quickly in this morning's dry session. It took me a few laps to get familiar with the track, but we learnt a lot about the bike and we have some ideas to try if it is dry tomorrow. This afternoon it was very wet, which was good because although the bike worked well in Le Mans it wasn't perfect and we had a few things we needed to try. We tested a couple of rain parts and we certainly made some progress. I am pretty confident about the rest of the weekend, but we'll have to wait and see what the weather does."
Paul Denning - Team Manager : "All in all it's been a constructive first day bearing in mind the changeable weather. John did a great job this morning and set his fastest lap on tyres that were well past race distance. Just as importantly, he took a big step forward with his wet weather settings and confidence this afternoon. Chris, despite some setting issues that need to be improved, was as quick as we would expect out there this afternoon - he wasn't too far away this morning either! In general, although nobody likes racing in the conditions like they were this afternoon, we are taking a positive attitude as we have two riders and a bike that seem capable of dealing with anything so we are looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP