On the first day at Phillip Island
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen had to contend with the elements during today's free practice session for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.
Heavy rain in the morning meant the track was wet for the majority
of the first session and both riders were unable to get to grips with the important set-up procedures needed to get their GSV-Rs ready for race-day. The afternoon session was a mix of sunshine and showers, but a constant strong wind also made things difficult for the two Suzuki riders.
Hopkins (1'33.274, 32 laps) recorded the 11th fastest time during the two sessions with team-mate Vermeulen (1'33.945, 37 laps) – riding his GSV-R in its one-off livery for the first time - just behind in 14th. World Champion Casey Stoner was quickest on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will have a further free practice session tomorrow morning – followed by the hour-long afternoon qualifying session - where both crews will be working flat out to get the bike set-up in readiness for Sunday's 27-lap race.
“Well as far as today went the conditions were pretty horrible so it was a case of going out and trying to make the best of the situation! This morning was off and on with the wet then drying conditions and we didn't get a lot done in that session. This afternoon was similar, but we managed to get a little bit more work done. The wind was horrendous and trying to set-up the bike and find a good tyre was pretty difficult.
We are nowhere near close to a good set-up and we still have a lot of work to do and we are already thinking about Saturday and seeing what the conditions will do. I think we will make a lot of changes tomorrow and work hard with Bridgestone to make the best solution for Sunday!”
“It was difficult day for everybody with those weather conditions. It's typical Phillip Island where it can be raining, dry, windy and very warm all in a short space of time. It made it hard to get the bike set-up and get a good feeling, but my guys have done a great job and made things very comfortable for me. We have improved the bike with every dry bit of track-time we've had and have a clear direction of which way to go. The wind has been the most difficult thing today and it seemed to affect me a lot out there, so we will need to work on improving things to counter that tomorrow.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It has been a very frustrating first day at Phillip Island. The changeable conditions and freezing winds has made it difficult for both riders to get into a rhythm or find an early initial setting that will help them come Sunday. The only good thing was how stunning Chris's one-off bike looked out on the track, now all we need to do is make it go another couple of seconds quicker and we'll be happy!”