At Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's ‘home' Grand Prix
Chris Vermeulen raced to a tremendous third-place at Donington Park today to give Rizla Suzuki MotoGP a podium in front of nearly 85,000 home fans at the British Grand Prix.
Heavy rain had fallen over the 4km English circuit
all day, including during this morning's warm-up session that saw Vermeulen become a victim of the treacherous conditions as he suffered another big crash. As the race began the rain started to ease off and Vermeulen got off to a great start, getting up to third position by the second lap, but a problem with misting inside his helmet visor saw the Australian's visibility hampered and he dropped back to fifth and at one point ran off the track.
As the rain ceased Vermeulen was able to lift his visor and clear the misting, and then set about chasing down the riders in front of him. He caught and passed both team-mate John Hopkins and then Valentino Rossi, and was catching second-placed man Colin Edwards in the closing stages, but just ran out of laps as he tried to haul him in. Today's race was won by championship leader Casey Stoner on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
Hopkins recorded his best ever wet race finish by crossing the line in fifth position. The Anglo- American got a good start and was in a podium place early on in the race, but as the track started to form a dry-line he was unable to take advantage. His fifth place today was also his fifth top-five finish of the season so far, and leaves him in fifth place in the championship overall, with team-mate Vermeulen just above in fourth.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP stays in third place in the team's championship and it will be looking to continue with its strong run of form when the next GP gets underway at Assen in the Netherlands in only six days time on Saturday 30th June.
“It was very wet to start with and then dried out later on and that made the conditions very difficult. But my team and Bridgestone deserve full marks for picking the best tyres for today – they certainly knew what they were doing! I also want give my crew an extra special thank-you because for the second day running I crashed heavily in the morning and they again managed to get the bike rebuilt in time, so thanks guys! As far as the race went, I felt comfortable early on, but then had some trouble seeing through my visor. A couple of riders came past me and I ran off the track, I was struggling to see so much that I could have hit a wall or a spectator or anything and not have known! When the rain stopped I was able to lift my visor up a bit and that cleared the misting and I was able to push harder again. I passed John and Valentino and very nearly caught Colin but I ran out of laps. I am very happy to be on the podium and now let's go and do it again – preferably in the dry!”
“Firstly congratulations to Chris, it is great to see a Suzuki on the podium again, I wish it had been me but he is pretty good in the wet! I got a decent start to the race and had a couple of battles early on with other riders. As the rain stopped falling it created a dry line which was difficult for me because although most riders take that line it's not the one that I always take! For the most part I'm pleased with the result; we finished in the top-five again and got some good points. We need to get a run of dry races now because I think with the Suzuki and Bridgestone package can be competitive wherever we go. I hope it will be dry at Assen next weekend as that is a place I really enjoy and I want to get a good result there so I can climb up that championship table.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“A great team result in awful conditions. Chris has had a really tough weekend – having crashed three times – but he put it all together today and rode a strong race. The way he hunted down Valentino from so far back was just great to watch. “John also performed really well today, especially in the full wet conditions at the start when it looked like he could have passed anyone on the brakes at any point on the circuit. I think it became very difficult for both the guys when the track started drying out and it was tough to read the conditions and know how hard to push. I would like to say well done to everyone in the team for preparing the bikes so well and to both the riders for keeping their wits about them and bringing the GSV-Rs home in high points scoring positions.”