“I can make big things happen there”
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP travels to the Atlantic coast of Portugal for round 14 of the MotoGP World Championship this week, fresh from the fantastic double podium earned at the last round in Misano.
Chris Vermeulen took his second
podium position in three races at the last event and John Hopkins's third position gave Suzuki a tally of seven podium places this season – including the runners-up position in the last three races. The Team's total of 284 points so far this year is the biggest the Suzuki squad has earned since the introduction of four-stroke regulations.
Vermeulen will be making only his second visit to the Estoril circuit, but is buoyed by his recent performances and determined to hold onto his fourth place and close down on third placed Dani Pedrosa in the riders' championship. Vermeulen had a good first visit to Estoril last year finishing in a positive ninth place after qualifying in 12th and running off the track and having to re-join the race.
Hopkins was the first Bridgestone rider across the line last season with a sixth placed finish after being the highest qualifying Bridgestone-shod racer - also with a sixth position on the grid. He is enjoying his best-ever season in MotoGP and is looking to open his MotoGP victory account in Portugal. Hopkins is on a high at the moment and is sure that Estoril gives him an excellent chance of standing on the top step.
The 4,182m long Estoril circuit is situated approximately 30kms from Lisbon, near the coastal resort of Cascais. The track is located very high up and with the Atlantic Ocean so close, gale-force winds are not an uncommon occurrence during a race weekend.
The layout of the circuit is very much one of contrasts, with a kilometre long straight, two very fast corners and one of the slowest parts of any track on the MotoGP calendar, so tyre choice will be a huge consideration for the weekend to cope with the possibility of low grip levels on the surface that can be caused by the dirt blown across it by the strong winds.
Practice for Sunday's race gets underway on Friday with two free sessions. Saturday will have another free session before the riders take to the track in the afternoon for an hour of qualifying. The 28-lap main event will take place at 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 16th September.
“I'm going to Portugal with high hopes for the rest of the season. I want to do the best I can for the remainder of the year, but I can't win the championship so my main priority is improving the GSV-R and my own performance so that I will be in a position to challenge for the title next year. I quite enjoyed Estoril last season and am sure that I can go even better this time out. I have a couple of tracks coming up that I really enjoy so I am expecting to get some more good performances to follow on from the podiums that I have had recently.”
“I am really looking forward to the next race and feel confident that I can make big things happen there. I like Estoril and I think it will suit the latest GSV-R well. If we mix that with excellent performance and improvement of the Bridgestone tyres I am sure we can be right up there and chasing after that top spot. I really want that first place before the end of this season and I'm running out of races so I'll be going all-out to make sure I get it, and Estoril gives me a good chance of it happening this coming weekend!”