Sepang : Suzuki - Day 2
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins will start from the third row of the grid for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix, after this afternoon's qualifying was cancelled and grid positions were decided by each rider's best lap-time during the three free
Torrential rain hit the Sepang International Circuit during lunch time and the heavy downpours caused substantial flooding of the 5.5km track. Although the hour long session was originally delayed to allow the track to dry, the standing water was too dangerous and the decision was made to cancel the session due to safety issues.
Hopkins (P8) had made some good improvements during the morning session and was again up with the fastest riders on race tyres, but as the hour wore on many riders used qualifying tyres and the Anglo-American was pushed down the timesheets as he concentrated on finding the best race set-up for Sunday's race.
Chris Vermeulen will start from 16th on the grid as he was still struggling with the illness that hampered him yesterday. He worked hard during the morning session and had made a significant step forward and was prepared for the afternoon session, but was unable to benefit due to the qualifying cancellation.
Tomorrow's event is round 13 of the MotoGP World Championship and the 21 lap race will get underway at 15.00hrs local time (08.00hrs GMT).
John Hopkins: "I'm really disappointed as we had a lot of things to try here this afternoon. Bridgestone had brought us a really good tyre that we hoped would work well in the dry and we never got the chance to use it. This afternoon we had planned to put a half-race distance on it but that never happened.
As for it being wet, safety is a very important thing but it's a shame we never got to ride because as it stands now I'm going to be starting from eighth, when I'm sure in qualifying it would have been higher. Some of the riders in front of me used qualifiers this morning and I just concentrated on my race set-up so I was penalised really. But we know that we can do the times and race well, so come rain or shine we will be ready!"
Chris Vermeulen: "Obviously I haven't been well this weekend and we have tried to keep the laps down to a minimum and concentrate on bike set-up. We weren't really trying to do the fast laps and I didn't use a qualifier like some of the riders did this morning because it wasn't a qualifying session! So because of that I am a long way back on the grid. But what surprises me is that maybe the track is not in the best condition at the moment, but what if it rains tomorrow? I'm sure Valentino and others won't be pushing for the race to be stopped. I'm not saying he had any involvement today but nobody even went out to see what it was like. Safety does come first but no rider went out there, not even in a safety car, so how can we say what it would have been like!"
Paul Denning – Team Manager: "First of all the cancellation of the qualifying session was massively disappointing in terms of both rider's grid positions, and the fact that we couldn't continue the excellent progress we had made this morning. We understand that Race Direction's decision about grid positions was a difficult one to make, in that there is nothing in the rule book to clarify this situation – it's clear that there should be for the future. Secondly it hasn't worked out very fairly in that many riders used qualifying tyres this morning, whereas others – our guys included – concentrated on race set-up and tyre testing. We would have liked to have seen an extended warm-up tomorrow morning to include a qualifying session. This is Grand Prix racing and the guys take big risks on the Saturday in qualifying, so I don't see why that risk couldn't be on Sunday morning before the race. Anyway, it is what it is and both our guys will be going full out to improve significantly on their grid positions in tomorrow's race!"