At Dutch GP
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins secured his sixth top-five finish of the season as he raced to a hard earned fifth place at the Assen TT today.
Starting from sixth on the grid, Hopkins made an excellent start and was running in second position
over the first half of the race. The hard-battling Anglo-American then encountered some vibration problems with his bike and lost valuable time to the chasing pack. Hopkins fought to keep them off but was passed by eventual winner Valentino Rossi and both of the factory Hondas.
Hopkins' points haul today moves him up into fourth place in the world championship classification.
Chris Vermeulen had a race that he will probably want to forget. Having started from pole position, after his brilliant wet weather qualifying performance yesterday, the high-flying Australian got off to a good start and his early race form was as good as anything he'd produced all weekend. He was in a strong points scoring position, but a mistake from Randy de Puniet on lap 12 saw Vermeulen pushed into the gravel as the Kawasaki rider crashed into him. Vermeulen rejoined the race but the damage was too much for him to mount a serious assault, and although he finished the race he was just outside the points with a 16th place finish.
Today's race was held in dry but overcast conditions and was watched by over 91,000 spectators at trackside. Rossi took the victory with championship leader Casey Stoner just behind him and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden in third.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will be back in action in two weeks time at the Sachsenring in Germany, for round 10 of the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday 15th July.
“It was definitely a tough race out there today and I feel like I've been in a real battle! I really put my heart into that race and worked hard to get that result! I wanted to be on the podium real bad today and I so much wanted to catch Stoner at the start. I was trying so hard, but I was getting some real bad vibrations around some of the turns and was losing about half-a-second through a certain section of the circuit. This meant I had to work even harder throughout the rest of the lap, but I lost a bit of rhythm and Rossi and then both the Hondas got by me. From there I just pushed as hard as I could to make sure I stayed ahead of Edwards. The Bridgestone tyres worked awesome today and the Rizla Suzuki was great again! A big thanks to my crew this weekend because we didn't have the best of set-up at the start of the weekend, but they improved it tremendously. Now we go on to Germany and I can't wait to get there and just carry on from where we have left off this weekend – I know we will be on that podium again soon!”
“It was good to start from pole position, and we made big steps in this morning's warm-up and the bike worked the best it has done all weekend when we started the race. I was doing my quickest lap-times and I felt good on the bike. Unfortunately I didn't quite have the speed of the front guys, but I was pushing hard. Then all of a sudden I was hit from the rear and I ended up in the gravel. I didn't know the other rider was there and I certainly don't think there was room for him! It took me a long time to get back on the track and I managed to finish the race. For the remaining laps I was unable to lean the bike over fully because some parts were damaged in the accident and I wasn't able to score any points. We will now move on to Germany and hope that no-one else wants to knock me off there - as this seems to be happening a lot to me this season!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It has not been the easiest of weekends for the whole team, but nonetheless it was good to see John produce a well-earned top five result. We were hoping for a better finish during the first half of the race when John was really flying, but the pace needed to get to the podium was just a little bit more than we had over race distance, and we need to respect John's maturity in riding to the limits to bring the bike home in a decent points-scoring position.”
“Chris went from the celebration of his pole yesterday to being outside of the points today – certainly not our expected result! Chris had improved his dry pace significantly during the early part of the race and looked set for a top seven or eighth place finish, but we didn't count on an aerial assault from one of our competitors mid-way through the race. The good news is that Chris was completely unhurt and will be able to go for it again at Sachsenring in two weeks time!”