We certainly have a lot of work to do!
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP endured a difficult qualifying session at Phillip Island today that left its riders in 15th and 16th place for tomorrow's race.
Hopkins (P15, 1'31.143) will start from the fifth row of the grid with team-mate
Chris Vermeulen (1'31.288) at the head of the row behind.
Both riders struggled to get the optimum balance from their Bridgestone shod Rizla Suzuki GSV-Rs and were always chasing the pack on a circuit where hundredths of a second makes all the difference.
Neither rider was able to use the ultra sticky Bridgestone qualifying tyres which have been so successful elsewhere this year, and as such they both reverted to race rubber to try and better their times.
Today's qualifying was held in bright sunshine with temperatures reaching 17°C. Current Championship leader Nicky Hayden set the fastest time to take pole position.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will have a warm-up session tomorrow morning to try and find some solutions for tomorrow's 27-lap race and give both Hopkins and Vermeulen the opportunity to challenge for all-important Championship points.
"What can I say? We certainly have a lot of work to do! This is no way what we expected and far from being the best qualifying position we've had. We are all pretty disappointed really. This is a race where you need to be up in front from the beginning, so we need to concentrate on a really good start tomorrow. We will look to make some drastic improvements overnight and in tomorrow's warm-up. We are all working hard to improve the situation, but you can be assured we will come out fighting tomorrow!"
"Not our best qualifying session.
I've had my worst two positions of the year in the last two races both 16th. But I did come up to 11th in the last race in Sepang and I'm feeling a lot healthier this weekend so hopefully we can do even better. We couldn't use a qualifying tyre today, even the race tyres are not working well around here for me. It's been hard work but we have made the bike better, we will try more things in the warm-up and hopefully we can make it better again."
Paul Denning Team Manager:
"It's not exactly what we planned for! The guys have worked really hard today to improve the bike, and those improvements have helped in our consistency. Our ultimate speed is not quite enough but it has got better so all credit to the team. John said this morning that being in the tow of faster riders makes a huge difference round here and that qualifying would be very important towards getting a decent result.
"Bridgestone's race tyres here have been the class of the field, and the Kawasakis seemed to be able to use the qualifier to good effect also. But unfortunately for us and by the look of it Ducati the compound choice on the qualifying tyre left us unable to complete a lap. Therefore both riders went out at the end on race tyres and did their best to better their times, but it was always going to be a difficult task to make a big step. Let's see what tomorrow brings hopefully it will rain!"