Capirossi set for emotional time
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will be hoping to start the 2008 MotoGP season in style this weekend as the first race of the year takes place at night from the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen are both
fresh from a two-night test at the 5.38km desert-based circuit, where they both made significant progress with the development of the 2008 Suzuki GSV-R.
The first round of the season will mark a very significant moment in the 60-year history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, marking the first time a race has been staged at night under artificial lighting conditions. The Losail circuit will be bathed in light from thousands of high-tech bulbs that give off enough illumination to almost allow the riders to wear dark visors!
Capirossi will be making his debut Grand Prix for Suzuki, after joining the manufacturer at the end of last season. The Italian star has a good record in the Qatar GP and will certainly be planning to continue with his good form at the circuit that saw him take a podium in 2006.
“This is a very exciting race for me as it is my first time racing a Suzuki and I am really looking forward to that, as it will be an emotional time for me”, he said. “I really feel like part of the Suzuki family and they are doing everything possible to help me. It will also be the first race we do at night and that adds to the excitement. We have tested in Qatar under the lights for two-nights now and they are very good to ride under. We have done a lot of testing leading up to the first race and we are almost ready, we will use the practice days to sort out a few things, but I am sure on race-night we will be 100% prepared and ready to go!”
The first running of a race at night will present many new situations that riders, mechanics and manufacturers will not have faced before. Bridgestone will be working especially hard to make sure its tyres gives the Suzuki GSV-R as much grip as possible on the colder track temperatures that are likely to be experienced over the weekend.
Equally, keeping the carbon brakes up to an optimum working temperature will be another consideration for all involved.
“I am really pumped up about the whole forthcoming weekend. Not only because of the thrill of riding in the first race and at night, but also because I can't wait to get back racing – that's what I do!”, commented Chris Vermeulen. “We have done loads of testing since the end of last year and have now got a good base package to work with on the 2008 bike, so we will certainly be looking to get a good result at Qatar on Sunday. It's a whole new experience for us to race at night, the NASCAR guys do it in America and Formula One will race at night later this year, but I'm sure this race will create a lot of interest and a lot of spectators will be watching to see how it goes. For me the toughest part is staying awake – I'm an ‘early to bed' type as I said before the test - but I'm sure I'll be alright!”
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday evening for two practice sessions followed by a further session the following evening. The all-important qualifying-hour will take place at 22.55hrs local time on Saturday, to determine the grid positions for Sunday's 22-lap race that gets underway at 23.00hrs local time (20.00hrs GMT).