Phillip Island : Suzuki - Preview
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Racer Chris Vermeulen will be racing in his first 'home' Grand Prix as a full factory rider during this weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Vermeulen has impressed during his rookie season – including
taking two pole positions – and will be looking to put a good display in front of his home crowd. It will be the second time he has raced at Phillip Island in a MotoGP after making his debut there last season as a replacement rider.
Team-mate John Hopkins will be going to Australia on the back of a string of top 10 finishes and a great performance in Malaysia last time out. Hopkins finished sixth in Sepang after fighting back from 14th place. He will be looking to extend his run of eight consecutive top 10 places and challenge for that as yet elusive podium.
The 4,445m long Phillip Island circuit is the only track to stage a GP in the southern hemisphere and this year is the second leg in the three week flyaway tour. The Australian circuit is one of the most picturesque on the calendar, as the track looks out over the Pacific Ocean. This doesn't take anything away from the racing though because the layout of the circuit with its flowing curves and long hairpins make this a riders favourite and a track that has produced some memorable racing.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will be in action on Friday for two free practice sessions. This will be followed on Saturday AM by the third and final practice session before Vermeulen and Hopkins go all out to secure the best grid positions possible during the hour long qualifying session. Sunday's race is round 14 on the MotoGP Calendar and will get underway at 15.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT).
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"We are going to Australia in a very positive frame of mind after the Sepang race. It was a very tough weekend for us in Malaysia with the cancellation of qualifying - leaving both riders with poor starting positions and uphill battles - and Chris' illness. But the Team worked hard as a unit and the new spec engine that Suzuki delivered to us there certainly showed great potential over race distance."
"We are under no illusions that it will be tough at Phillip Island and the possible cold conditions could play a huge part, but the riders and all the crew are up to the task and will be working as hard as possible for the best results."
"It will be great for Chris to ride at 'home' for the first time for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP and I'm sure he will have many friends, family and fans cheering him on!"