Despite a tough qualifying session
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi will be hoping that the strong race pace they showed during today's final practice session continues in tomorrow's race, after a tough qualifying session left them on the fourth
and fifth rows respectively.
Vermeulen (P11, 1'55.540) and Capirossi (P13, 1'56.070) showed consistently improving times during the first evening session - and for much of the qualifying hour - as they continued to work on the set-up of their GSV-Rs for tomorrow's 22-lap race. The pair were unable to make headway with their qualifying tyres and now have a lot of work to do to get up towards the front when the race gets underway tomorrow evening.
This evening marked the inaugural MotoGP qualifying session held at night, as the riders came to terms with colder track temperatures caused by the chilly desert air. Reigning 250cc World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Yamaha took pole position in his first event in the MotoGP class.
Tomorrow's race will be the opening round of the 2008 season and the first-ever road-racing Grand Prix staged at night under floodlights. The flag drops to signal the start of the race at 23.00hrs local time (20.00hrs GMT), when both Rizla Suzuki MotoGP riders will be looking for good starts to get them straight into the challenging pack.
We made a lot more progress with the bike today and also my own performance around this track improved. We got into a good rhythm in the first session and at the end I was well inside the top-10 on race tyres. The bike felt good and I could consistently and easily keep doing those times.
The qualifying was a different story and it was plain to see that the other tyre manufacturer had an advantage on us on qualifiers, which makes it difficult having to start from back on the fourth row. As for tomorrow's race I'll go out and give it 100% and I know my race pace is better than some of the guys in front of me so I'll see how we can go!
I think we can still make a big step in the race conditions and get a good result from here. From when we tried the qualifiers in the test last week, I chose the wrong ones this week. I had only two qualifiers to Chris's three and maybe he had two slightly better ones, as well as one the same as me, and he said it didn't work well for him either. Anyway this was my choice and I know it was a mistake. I am sure that the race will be much better for us.
Paul Denning Team Manager:
We knew from the test that we were going to be up against it as regards qualifying tyre performance, and therefore the result was not completely unexpected. Another couple of tenths for Chris would have helped him get onto the third row, but for both the riders we can be positive that our race pace has improved dramatically over the weekend and both Loris and Chris made 1'56.0 laps on their chosen race rubber. We know that they are both extremely hard and consistent racers, and whilst starting from the fourth and fifth rows is far from ideal, I think both riders are confident that we can achieve a far better result by the end of the Grand Prix tomorrow evening!