Making the most of his “get out of jail card”
Chris Vermeulen stormed to his first ever MotoGP podium at a rain affected Australian Grand Prix from Phillip Island in Australia.
Vermeulen started from 16th place on the grid and by lap seven had moved up to 12th, when
most riders chose to enter the pit-lane and change to their 'wet' setting bikes as heavy rain started to fall.
Vermeulen raced past many riders on the pit-entry lap and re-joined the race in 7th place, and by the next lap was up to third. The young Australian star then passed Sete Gibernau for second place and dug deep to hold his position for the remaining 10 laps.
The race was watched by over 44,000 Australian fans who cheered Vermeulen all the way to the chequered flag behind eventual winner Marco Melandri.
Team-mate John Hopkins had a very different race to Vermeulen. Having started in 15th he made an amazing start and was up to seventh by the end of the first lap. When he came in to the pits to change machines he was in fifth, but he just couldn't get the drive he needed and dropped back to 12th by the end of the race.
The points that he scored for that position did enable him to move up to eighth place in World Championship table and close the gap on Kenny Roberts Jr in seventh.
“I'm obviously very happy to get my first MotoGP podium at my home Grand Prix! The support everyone gave me here at Phillip Island, and the bike the team gave me, was superb.
We did no testing in the rain and used a brand new Bridgestone wet that we didn't have any experience of - in hindsight I probably would have chosen a harder tyre but we didn't know that at the time. I've got to give full credit to my team, when I came into the pits they were ready and everything went to plan. That's down to Tom, the organisation of the crew and everyone working with us. I've got a new track to learn next weekend but I'll be going all out to get another one of these at Motegi!”
“Well done to Chris that was an extremely good race for him, especially being on the podium at his home Grand Prix. It really sucks when your team-mate beats you and puts you to shame like that but I just couldn't get any hook-up from my wet set-up and I couldn't stay with the front runners. This will just make me go even harder in the last three races. I'm going to Motegi in a positive frame of mind - I know we can go well there!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Giving the unseasonably good weather here at Phillip Island I joked that maybe we would get lucky and it would rain. I didn't imagine that would come true and we would see such an exciting race. The team has been long overdue a podium this season and Chris was awesome out there today- it makes up for the disappointment he suffered in Laguna and in his home country this must be a dream come true. Congratulations to him, and also to Tom and all his crew for giving him the bike to do the job on.”
“I'm disappointed for John after the fantastic work he had done in the early part of the race. He was the class of the field in the dry but just couldn't quite get the feel for the bike in the wet. Even so he has moved himself up to eighth in the Championship and brought the bike home safely. I am sure he will be full of confidence for one of his favourite tracks at Motegi next weekend.”
“We were given a 'Get out of jail card' today, and the team took full advantage!”