It was harder than riding in the rain!
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins battled his way to seventh place at a blisteringly hot German Grand Prix today.
Hopkins made a good start and was in touch with the lead pack in the early part of the race. He looked
comfortable in fifth, but as track temperatures rose to a high of 55°C, grip became an issue and he found himself involved in a battle with world championship leader Casey Stoner and Marco Melandri. Hopkins fought all the way to the chequered flag but was just beaten by the two other riders and crossed the line in seventh to earn him nine valuable points in the championship.
Chris Vermeulen had the worst possible start to today's 30-lap race. Due to a small mechanical error his bike edged forward on the start-line and he incurred a jump-start penalty. Vermeulen had to enter the pit-lane and then re-join the race, but the ride through penalty cost Vermeulen valuable places and he now found himself in last position. The Australian racer set about chasing down the riders in front of him and although he too suffered with grip issues he brought his Suzuki GSV-R home safely in 11th place.
Today's race was watched by 101,048 fans at trackside as they baked in the beautiful sunshine. Honda's Dani Pedrosa took victory, with Stoner retaining his championship lead.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has now just a week before it is in action again, as the MotoGP circus rolls out across the Atlantic for the American Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in California on Sunday 22nd July.
I got a good start and after the first turn battle for positions I got away clear and with the front guys. I got into a good rhythm, but made a couple of mistakes and lost a bit of ground to the riders in front of me. I kept my head down and tried to ride as smoothly and efficiently as I could while still doing the lap times, because I knew it was going to be a hard, long and hot race. With about seven laps to go we ran into some tyre problems and we were really struggling for edge grip especially on the left-handers. I then got into a battle with Melandri and Stoner and I've got to say it was the strangest race I've ever been in - at the end, with the lack of rear grip - it was harder than riding in the rain! I have extended my fourth place lead a little bit and now I am looking forward to going to America and giving it all I've got!
I had a problem with the clutch on the start-line and I couldn't hold the bike still when it was in gear. It was creeping forward and I went later than everyone so I wouldn't get a jump start, but there was nothing I could do and I just edged over the line before the lights changed. After the ride-through I just got my head down and did the laps and tried to make up some places. It was very difficult conditions out there for the tyres, but we managed to get some decent enough points considering how the start went. I am sure we can all learn from this experience and now go on to Laguna and see if we can get the result this time that we deserved last year!
Paul Denning Team Manager:
It was not our best day at the office today, but in a real race of attrition both the guys brought the bikes home and we scored some points! Chris had a day to forget, with a jump-start through no fault of his own, a ride-through penalty and then running into the same sort of grip issues that most of the Bridgestone riders suffered with today. John seemed to be able to fight in the front group, but at the end was relegated to a very strange battle with Casey and Marco, with all three of them clearly struggling for grip. Rizla Suzuki has no complaints at all about the tyre performance. Firstly a Bridgestone rider still finished on the podium, and secondly after the performance gains this season and the improvements they have given us I am sure they will react to this in a very positive way, and we will be looking for top results next weekend in America!