“That is what I believe I can do”
Following a lengthy winter break spent almost entirely in his native Australia Chris Vermeulen is raring to go ahead of the first 2009 pre-season test in Malaysia next week.
The 26 year-old Suzuki rider has been training hard on
his physical fitness and enjoying the sunshine `Down Under´ over the last couple of months, but admits he is desperate to get back on a MotoGP bike.
Like the rest of the premier class grid Vermeulen will get that opportunity as of 5th February in Sepang, where he and his teammate Loris Capirossi get to grips with the new GSV-R800, which has been significantly updated since the end of the 2008 campaign.
Previewing the test, Vermeulen stated, “I know there is some new engine stuff coming which is really exciting. We tested at Phillip Island at the end of last season and we learned a lot with the chassis and the electronics of the bike. The engine was the same as the 2008 bike at that point and it is no secret that it has been quite a big problem for us, but I know Suzuki have been working hard and there is an updated motor for us for Malaysia. So I am looking forward to it”, he continued. “There are new chassis parts and quite a lot else so I am excited. I am really hanging out to get onto the bike right now.”
Asked about the effect that the new single-brand tyre rule for 2009 will have on the competition in MotoGP Vermeulen replied, “I think that with the amount of test days we have before the start of the season everyone will have them working. It is all going to be very fair and the racing is going to be `go´ from the very first race. The good thing with the one tyre brand rule is that it is going to be the same for everyone.
Even though I personally am not a big fan of the rule itself I think it is going to work for the racing and hopefully it will make things closer and really exciting.”
For a second season Vermeulen is preparing to ride alongside the Italian veteran Capirossi in 2009, with both riders retaining their 2008 technical crews. This will be Capirossi´s twentieth season of Grand Prix riding and Vermeulen believes the continuity and stability afforded by working again with his vastly experienced colleague could benefit the team notably in the early part of the year.
“Last year Loris came in and he was new”, Vermeulen commented. “But now with both of us being there again with all the same team, all the same engineers and mechanics, I think it is going to help us, especially early on in the season which is when things didn´t go so well last year. Fingers crossed that is going to be one of our strengths this season.”
Pressed to set down his personal targets for the forthcoming campaign, Vermeulen confidently stated, “Ultimately I have the same goal as everyone else and that is to win races, challenge for the World Championship and hopefully win it in ten months´ time. Realistically we need to challenge for the podium quite regularly and, if not that, then top five positions at every GP. If we can do that we are going to be challenging for the top three in the Championship. That is what I am really focused on and that is what I believe I can do.”