At US Grand Prix
Chris Vermeulen put his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on the front row of the grid at the American Grand Prix for the second successive year, as he qualified in third place today for Sunday's race.
Vermeulen (1'22.590, 34 laps) set his fastest lap halfway through
this afternoon's hour-long qualifying session whilst still on race tyres. It looked as though his time would be good enough for pole as all riders had difficulty in bettering their race-tyre pace with the qualifying tyres.
Vermeulen's time was only beaten right at the end of the session by championship leader Casey Stoner - who secured pole position - and Dani Pedrosa.
John Hopkins (1'22.933, 34 laps) will begin tomorrow's 32-lap race from the front of the third row after he qualified in seventh place. The ever aggressive Anglo-American looked set for a higher position, but a rider travelling much slower than Hopkins on the racing line caused him to lose his momentum and abort his best lap.
Hopkins' never-say-die attitude rose to the front again and he completed another lap on his Bridgestone qualifying tyre – the third on a tyre usually designed to complete just one – and although he couldn't quite get the grip he needed to push him to a front row start he still managed to improve on his previous best and move up the grid.
Tomorrow's 32-lap race is round 11of the MotoGP World Championship and the main event gets going at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).
“It's great to be on the front row of the grid again at Laguna. Like I've said before this is a circuit I really enjoy and the fans were great again here today. The team has done a fantastic job here all weekend and the bike and tyres are working really well.
Unfortunately in the session I couldn't come to grips with the qualifying tyre and I did my quickest time on a race tyre. That is not good for qualifying, but good for the race that we have the pace in the tyres. I am really looking forward to the race tomorrow and we will go and give it 100% out there and see what we can do!”
“The whole weekend has gone pretty well and we think we have got a good combination of race tyres for tomorrow. We had a couple of little issues this afternoon, but nothing that we couldn't overcome. I would have liked to have been higher up the grid but unfortunately I was baulked by another rider and I ended up doing my fastest lap on a three-lap old qualifier, which was feeling pretty loose by then! I'm on the third row so I'll have to be really focused from the start and hope that we can put on a great race for all the American fans!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Chris and John have both improved their race pace today and we look in good shape for tomorrow. It was a strange qualifying session in that we didn't take the normal jump in lap times on the qualifying tyres. Chris' front row position was set using his choice of race rubber for tomorrow. It would have been nice to have taken a step on the qualifiers, but it can't be bad that we can perform on race tyres like that! “
“John was very badly baulked by an experienced rider during a fast lap, but that is history now and he did well to rescue a seventh place start in the final seconds of the session - when both tyres were well past their best! Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is aiming high tomorrow, and we will be disappointed with anything less than a podium”