On first day in the Netherlands
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen both made significant advances in finding the optimum set-up for Saturday's Dutch TT, during today's free practice sessions.
Hopkins (P8, 1'38.436, 57 laps) took a big step
forward towards the end of this afternoon's hour-long session as he worked tirelessly with his crew to get the Suzuki GSV-R dialled in to the Assen circuit. He continually improved his times and set his best lap at the end of the practice.
Vermeulen (P15, 1'39.152, 50 laps) struggled with his braking set-up for the most part of today and was hampered in getting his bike prepared for Saturday's 26-lap race as he searched for solutions to the problem. He and his crew finally made a breakthrough in the latter parts of this afternoon's session and now have a clear indication of the direction to take tomorrow.
Today's sessions were held in sunny and dry but very windy - conditions at the 4.5km Dutch track, and championship leader Casey Stoner on his Bridgestone-shod factory Ducati set the quickest time.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more free practice session tomorrow morning, followed by qualifying in the afternoon. Saturday's race is round nine of the championship and gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
I can honestly say we struggled a bit with set-up this morning - we were nowhere near where we wanted to be! This is one of the first tracks this year that we have showed up at and had to work really hard to get the bike how we want it. The crew has worked really hard to get us up to near where we have to be - we are still a bit behind, but we can make that up! We've got some stuff to try in the morning that I am sure will make things even better. We also worked hard with Bridgestone and went through our tyre allocation to find a compound that works well here. In the last run at the end of this afternoon's session we found some big things that really moved us forward, it was almost like a night and day difference! I now can't wait to get back out on track, it's a shame we don't have another hour today as I'm sure we could smooth some more things out and make a big step up!
We've had a few problems on the bike today, but the biggest has been the brakes. We've had a bit of inconsistency and I've had to work the lever really hard and that has given me a bit of arm pump. We have tried a lot of things and improved considerably this afternoon. I did get a bit of chassis vibration later on in the session, but we know what that is caused by and we'll put it right tomorrow.
We still have a lot to come from me and the bike around here and I know Tom and the crew will be working flat out to find the answers that we need!
Paul Denning Team Manager:
It's been a hard day for the whole team and we are now in a better position than this morning! The gaps in performance of all the riders here at Assen seem quite small and we've yet to unlock the full potential of the GSV-R. However, towards the end of this afternoon's session, John took a significant step forward and now feels a lot more confident in the bike and his own ability to run with the front group. We will need to find some more solutions to help Chris - the position he is in is horrible, but the gap in lap-time is not impossible to make up!
Everyone at Rizla Suzuki MotoGP was sad to see Toni Elias have an accident this morning and we would all like to wish him a full recovery, as well as a speedy return to the MotoGP paddock.