Rizla Suzuki MotoGP heads to the Italian Riviera next weekend for the newest round on the MotoGP calendar, determined to continue with the improved form it has shown so far this year.
Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins are both in the top five of the riders'
championship on 124 points respectively with Vermeulen just leading the way in fourth place by virtue of his win at Le Mans in May. Suzuki is the only manufacturer to have two riders in the top five and both Vermeulen and Hopkins will be looking to add to the team's tally of five podium finishes that it has already secured this season.
The San Marino and Rimini Riviera GP is round 13 of the MotoGP World Championship and will be held at the Misano circuit close to the city of Rimini on Italy's Adriatic coast. Constructed in 1972 the circuit was the scene for many Italian Grands Prix throughout the 1980s and early 90s.
MotoGP will make its first ever visit to the famous track this year and as such the riders will have three hour-long practice sessions on the Friday to acquaint themselves with the 4,180m long track.
Vermeulen will be one of only a handful of riders that has previously raced at the circuit during his World Supersport and Superbike career but Suzuki's Australian star will be on as much as a learning curve as his peers, as the track now goes in a different direction to when he competed on it.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to track on Friday for the three free practice sessions followed a fourth on the Saturday morning. Qualifying for Sunday's 28-lap race will take place on Saturday afternoon, with the main event getting underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 2nd September.
I am one of the few riders that have been to Misano before, but with the track changing direction the only advantage that will give me is that I will know where to park my motorhome! We are going to Italy a bit blind as we don't know what the surface will be like, so tyre choice is going to be very important on Thursday. I really enjoyed racing at Misano, I got a couple of second places there in 2005 and I will certainly be looking to repeat that feat - if not better it!
After my podium last time out I want more of those and especially to step up to the top. I wanted a top five finish in the championship when the season started and I'll be doing all I can to make that happen, there's no reason why it can't even be a top three. This weekend could be all about tyres, we just don't know what's going to happen. They could work perfectly out of the box or the surface could just eat them up! One thing I do know is that we are all starting equal as nobody has raced this track on a MotoGP bike before and my crew will be working all-out to give me the best bike possible straight from the start. I am able to learn tracks quite quickly and if Stuart and the boys can give me the machine to do it on and the Bridgestones work as well as they have done all year then who knows what might happen!