Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen fought through the pain barrier during this afternoon's qualifying practice at Laguna Seca in America, to earn himself a third row start for tomorrow's U.S. GP.
Vermeulen (P9, 1'22.633, 34 laps) suffered a huge high-side crash
at the end of this morning's practice session that left the Australian with heavy bruising all down his left side, but thankfully no broken bones. Vermeulen showed consistent race pace throughout both of today's sessions and is sure that he has enough speed to run towards the front in tomorrow's race.
"I managed to stay upright this afternoon for a whole hour, so that was a first for this weekend and the mechanics are also very pleased about that!”, he said. “Firstly though, I want to thank my crew because they worked so hard between sessions today after I wrecked a bike this morning. The crew has done a great job and managed to get the bike ready for this afternoon. When we went out we made quite an improvement and took some big steps in lap-times. I was able to do the lap-times very consistently and I think we can do that tomorrow in the race. We still need to find a bit more pace to be right at the front, but the front feeling certainly got better today, although we are still looking for a bit more rear grip. We still have a couple of things to work on tomorrow morning, but we should be in good shape for the race. I am a bit disappointed to be on the third row as I feel like I had the pace to be nearer the front of the grid. It will be important to get a good start and get right up there early on and work on things from there."
Loris Capirossi (P10, 1'22.662, 33 laps) made some huge steps towards the end of this afternoon's qualifying as he finally found a setting he was more comfortable with on his Suzuki GSV-R. He qualified just 0.029 seconds behind team-mate Vermeulen and within a second of pole-setter Jorge Lorenzo.
Capirossi is confident that he has turned a corner and can be competitive in tomorrow's race.
"I think we tried to do too much in the first two sessions of this weekend and I felt more like a test rider because I really tested everything we had and we never really found anything that worked”, he said. “Then, this afternoon, we went back to a more standard setting like we have used in the past, and we finally got a rhythm and improved lap-by-lap. It is still not great and to be 10th on the grid is not that good, but compared to where we were yesterday, and after this morning, it is a lot better. The thing is that we have really lost a couple of hours of testing and now we will find it hard to make any improvements in warm-up tomorrow morning because the conditions will still be a bit cold. I am really positive for the race because we have improved so much and we will have to wait and see what can happen tomorrow."
Tomorrow's 32-lap race is round eight of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship and the show will get on the move at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).