“That isn't too bad a day !”
Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins raced their Rizla Suzuki GSV-R's to second and third places respectively, to give Suzuki its first double podium in the MotoGP era, at Misano in Italy today.
Starting from the middle of the third row Vermeulen
got a great start and was in fourth place by the first corner. He made up a further place during the first lap as he passed seven-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, and then set about chasing team-mate Hopkins.
Hopkins had had an equally good start and was straight into second place, close behind eventual winner Casey Stoner. Hopkins and Vermeulen traded fastest laps over the first six laps of the race before Vermeulen caught and overtook his team-mate on lap six. Rizla Suzuki's Australian star closed the gap on his fellow countryman Stoner, but was eventually unable to reel in the runaway championship leader.
A crowd of just over 57,000 bathed in glorious sunshine as they witnessed Suzuki's first double podium since 2001. The Team has now moved up into third position in the Team's Championship and is only two points away from second place. Vermeulen and Hopkins both consolidated their fourth and fifth places in the rider's classification and moved even closer to Dani Pedrosa in third after he failed to finish today, having crashed on the first lap.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now stay in Misano for a full day of testing tomorrow before heading off to the next round of the MotoGP World Championship, to be held at Estoril in Portugal on Sunday 16th September.
“I am very happy to be on the podium.
I said earlier this year that there would be two Rizla Suzukis on there before the end of the year, and I am very pleased to have been proved right. Obviously I'm happy to be in front of John, but congratulations to him and the whole team on this great result. We had no data on the bikes before we came here and Suzuki and Bridgestone have both done a great job to give us such a fantastic package for a new circuit. I got a good start from the third row, which was nice because I was dreading starting back there as it is so difficult to pass around here. I got up to fourth early on, but I still had to pass John and Valentino – two of the hardest guys in the paddock to get around. After I got through them I tried to catch Casey and thought I was doing so, but I think I used up a bit too much of my rear tyre trying to catch him and at the end he pulled away a bit. Once again I would like to pass on my thanks to Tom and all my crew, plus all the guys at Bridgestone for this weekend.”
“What can I say, two Rizla Suzukis on the podium so that isn't too bad a day! I got a great start which was crucial and I was lucky to avoid the accident at turn one. I wanted to hang on to Casey early on for as long as I could, the Bridgestone tyres worked really well right from the start and the bike also felt good. I had an incident when I pushed a bit too hard coming in to a fast right and had a big front-end slide. That cost me some time as it spooked me up a bit and because of that my lap-times dropped off. I could hear Chris behind me, he came up the inside and passed me - I knew he had a strong pace and I tried to hang on to him. I hung on for as long as possible until I had a problem with a knee-slider that came loose and I had to take it off and put it back on! That is neither here nor there though, Chris and Casey rode at a hell of a pace and I didn't really have anything for them. I'm happy to get this position for the Team and for Suzuki. It's a great performance today and now we'll be pushing tomorrow to try and make more improvements. Then it's on to Estoril where I have very high hopes!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Today represents another landmark in Suzuki's return to competitiveness in MotoGP. It's the first time since 2001 that two Suzukis have been on the podium and the first time ever since the introduction of the four-stroke regulations. It's a reflection on the hard work put in by Suzuki, the crew, the riders, Bridgestone and all our technical partners. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is now only two points behind Fiat Yamaha in the Team Championship, and with the performances shown recently by both of the riders we could possibly take second place over the coming races. It also gives us great confidence as we look to build on these results into 2008.I want to say well done to everybody involved, great job guys.
Rizla Suzuki would also like to congratulate Casey Stoner on another unbelievable performance today. There has been a lot of nonsense spoken in MotoGP this year regarding tyre regulations, engine performance, etc. etc. I believe that the difference at the moment is Casey and we're focusing our best efforts to improve our own performance to beat him and that's what everybody should be doing at this time!”