Vermeulen on third row
John Hopkins will start from the second row of the grid for tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix as he powered his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to the fifth quickest time in this afternoon's qualifying session at Misano.
Hopkins (1'34.536, 26 laps) was on
a flying last lap and looked likely to claim another front-row start, but a small mistake in the final section cost him valuable tenths of a second.
Hopkins and his crew had worked tirelessly all day – including two gearbox changes during this morning's two-hour practice session – to get the optimum set-up for the GSV-R in readiness for Sunday's 28-lap race, and will continue to make more important changes throughout this evening and into tomorrow morning's warm-up session.
Chris Vermeulen (1'34.717, 30 laps) displayed podium race pace during this afternoon's qualifying session as he recorded some consistently fast laps on his Rizla Suzuki. Unfortunately he was held up by a slower rider on his final Bridgestone qualifying tyre and only finished in eighth place, giving him a tough starting position in the middle of the third row, immediately behind his team-mate Hopkins on the grid.
In stark contrast to yesterday's torrential rain, today's sessions were held in dry and sunny conditions with air temperatures reaching 23°C. Championship Leader Casey Stoner will start from pole position in tomorrow's race on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
The main event is round 13 of the MotoGP World Championship and racing gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“We managed to cram a lot of work in to one day today.
Unfortunately with the two hours back-to-back we didn't really have a lot of opportunities to make many big set-up changes, which we would probably have done if the time had been spaced out more. We did make a few alterations and we changed two gearboxes during this morning's session! I think we have made the most of the time we've had and my crew has done a great job. This afternoon we worked with Bridgestone to get the best tyre solution out of my allocation for tomorrow's race and we still have a couple of things to try in the warm-up in the morning. On the qualifiers I turned my brain off for a bit and went wide and lost some time, but as a whole the bike felt really good and so did the Bridgestone tyres. We've made a few good starts from the second row so we've just got to do that, hang it out at the front and go for that podium!”
“It was the first dry time out on the track today and it was all new for everybody. We had a longer session this morning to make up for yesterday and the team did a great job on the bike to get it ready. Bridgestone has also done an awesome job in getting the tyres right for here without any data whatsoever - they are working really well. This afternoon we made some changes with the gearbox and suspension and it felt a lot better. I was more comfortable with the circuit and I feel that my race tyre times are very consistent and quite easy to do. On the qualifiers it was going well but a rider in front didn't see me and slowed me up a bit. Third row is not ideal especially as it will be quite hard to pass around here, so I'll have to sharpen up my elbows and go for it from the off and hopefully get a good result.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It's been an interesting and quite unusual MotoGP weekend so far in Misano, and the team and riders have responded very well indeed. I have to all commend the crew. John's guys managed to get through an enormous amount of work this morning, including two gearbox changes! That is an unusual thing to achieve, but they got the bikes turned around incredibly quickly.”
“This afternoon's qualifying session resulted in high anticipation for the race but also some disappointment especially for Chris as his qualifying position was not where he deserved to be. He's really flying on the race tyres! John rescued things at the end to put together a great lap, which all things being equal should have been a front row start, but a mistake and a near crash put paid to that. Middle of the second row is not too bad and I'm sure he'll get a good start and be right up there battling. The track looks like it will be very difficult to pass on, but both our guys are pumped up and ready to deliver in full tomorrow!”