Heading to Catalunya
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP continues its hectic European tour this coming weekend as the MotoGP circus heads to the Montmelo Circuit near Barcelona in Spain for the Catalonian GP – the second leg of a busy nine week schedule that covers six European races.
John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen will be taking to the 4.7km circuit for the first free practice session less than five days since the chequered flag dropped at the end of the Italian Grand Prix in Italy.
Hopkins finished a spirited fifth in Mugello last Sunday with Vermeulen close behind in eighth, and the pair will want to keep up the good run of form that the team is enjoying. The season to date has produced a race win, a podium and ten top-10 finishes - between the two riders - in the six races so far.
Montmelo is a circuit that Hopkins particularly likes and he finished fourth there last season – his equal best result of 2006. Vermeulen too had a strong race last year, and at that time produced his best MotoGP finish by bringing his Suzuki GSV-R home in sixth.
The Circuit de Catalunya is located 20km north of Barcelona and is one of the regular test tracks on the MotoGP calendar. It is a good barometer of a MotoGP bike's performance, as it requires all elements of a machine's performance to be at the very top level.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will start its preparations for Sunday's 25-lap race with two free practice sessions on Friday. Saturday will have another free session and an hour of qualifying in the afternoon to determine staring positions for the race, which gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 10th June.
“I really enjoy Barcelona and I always seem to go well there.
The track has a bit of everything for me and the 990cc bike performed well there, so I am sure the new 800 also will – it's a huge step forward from last year's bike. I got a fourth there in 2006 and was very pleased with that, but I will certainly be planning to go a few steps higher than that this weekend! So far the season has been real good, but I know we have the package to make it even better!”
“I know the track quite well and have enjoyed it whenever I've been there. It is like a home GP for me really as I live in Andorra and Barcelona is just a short drive from my house – maybe I'll get a bit of extra Spanish support! I found Mugello last weekend pretty tough so it will be good to come to track that I like and try to be competitive from the first session. I am looking for a good result this weekend as we definitely have the bike to do it, as both John and I have shown in previous weeks. We need to keep our good run going!”