I am really, really happy
John Hopkins raced to his best MotoGP result today as he brought his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R home in a superb second position at the Czech Republic Grand Prix.
Starting from fourth on the grid Hopkins got a great start and was up into second
position within the first few turns, a position that he never gave up for the whole race as he and eventual race-winner Casey Stoner pulled away from the rest of the field . Hopkins did challenge Stoner for first place, but was riding at the absolute limit and decided to bring the bike home safely in second rather than risk all on a battle with the Ducati rider.
Chris Vermeulen finished with a fantastic fifth place to give Rizla Suzuki MotoGP its best pair of results this season. Vermeulen got a bit boxed in at the start and was ninth at the end of lap one. He quickly made up ground as Colin Edwards fell in front of him and then he set about battling it out with three other riders.
The aggressive Australian passed Randy de Puniet on lap nine and Loris Capirossi two laps later. He then sized up Valentino Rossi, before overtaking the seven-time World Champion on lap 13. Vermeulen tried to chase down the riders in front of him, but the gap was too great and he had to settle for fifth.
Vermeulen and Hopkins are now tied on 124 points in the riders' World Championship table, with the former just leading the way due to his victory in France. With both riders on the same amount of points they have jointly become Suzuki's highest point scorers on a four-stroke MotoGP machine, both surpassing Hopkins's total of 116 last year.
Today's race was watched by a record breaking Czech crowd of over 141,000, that witnessed Stoner win on the Bridgestone-shod Ducati and stretch his lead in the championship to 60 points.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now stay in Brno for a two day test and are next in race-action in two weeks time when the MotoGP circus moves to Misano in Italy on Sunday 2nd September.
I can say that I am really, really happy with today's result and the whole weekend in general. I got off the line well and then passed Dani and Nicky in quick succession to get up to second. My goal had been to be in second by turn three because I knew Casey would be in first and I didn't want him to get away. I tried to stay with him, but he had an unbelievable pace and I was pushing the front and the rear to the limit which with the Bridgestones is pretty high! I tried hard to catch him but after a while I decided to pull it in a bit and make sure I got that second place. The bike and the tyres worked great today and a big thanks to my team for a fantastic job and to Bridgestone for such awesome tyres. Congratulations to Chris on a great ride today, we're tied on points now, so that added competition is good for the whole team for the rest of the season. I am sure everyone at Rizla Suzuki is happy with this result and I'm more happy for them as they all deserve it and it's good for me to give these podiums back to Suzuki after all they have done for me.
I'd like to finally wish Taro Sekiguchi all the best after his horrendous crash in the 250 race earlier today. I and all the team hope he is ok and makes a quick recovery and return to racing.
I had a good enough start, but got a bit closed in on the first turn and went back a place. Everyone was going so quick that it was hard to get anywhere early on. Colin got in front of me and then he crashed and very nearly took me with him, so I lost a bit of time from that. I then got up to de Puniet and got past him. Loris was very difficult to get by, because that Ducati is so fast on the straights, but I did. I then just kept my head down and also managed to get up to and pass Valentino a couple of laps later. It's good points for the championship and I'm still in fourth and we'll look for another podium next time out. Well done to John on his second place today, he has deserved that for all the hard work he has put in recently and after what happened to him in America!
Paul Denning Team Manager:
It's been a fantastic day's work by everyone. I think the team and the riders got everything out of themselves, the bikes and the tyres. It's great to keep making forward progress and we will try to continue to do that for the rest of the season.
For John it was a similar story as for Chris in Laguna Seca. He was the absolute class of the field but for one rider, who is on such good form he is absolutely destroying everyone else this season. Chris also had another strong race and showed what a great racer he is. We are getting closer all the time to the very front and are looking forward to seeing one of our guys on the top step again before the end of the season.