Motegi : Suzuki - Preview
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen will be joined by Factory Test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi in a three-man team for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
Akiyoshi will be making his Grand Prix debut alongside the Rizla
Suzuki regulars. The 31- year-old Japanese star will be racing the same Suzuki GSV-R that the Rizla Suzuki team has been using all season, and will be looking to put home track knowledge to his advantage as he takes on the best motorcycle racers in the world.
The team comes to Japan buoyed by last weekend's podium for Vermeulen and will be looking to get back in the groove as quickly as possible over the 4.8km Japanese track. Hopkins qualified on the front row at Motegi last year, whilst Vermeulen will be visiting the circuit for the first time.
Motegi is located just over 90 kilometres to the north-east of Tokyo. The track is one of the safest and most modern on the MotoGP Calendar, and with an interesting mix of fast ess bends, hairpins and a top-speed downhill section into a 90° bend, Motegi is a very exciting and demanding circuit.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will have two free practice sessions on Friday followed by a further free session on Saturday morning. The real business of qualifying for round 15 of the MotoGP World Championship will be on Saturday afternoon and the riders will take to the track for the race at 14.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 24th September.
Paul Denning – Team Manager – said: "We come to Motegi after - what was until the race – a difficult weekend in Australia, both the guys worked extremely hard there and if points were scored for trying they would both have made the podium! We have certainly learnt some valuable lessons from Phillip Island and we will work on the data to make sure we can find a solution if a situation like that presents itself again."
"Motegi is a very important race for Suzuki as it is obviously the 'home' Grand Prix for the factory. We will be joined this week by Akiyoshi san and we hope that he can put on a good display and enjoy his first ever GP. John goes very well around Motegi and the GSV-R should be well suited to the track so we will be hoping for a strong performance from him," he added. "Chris is visiting this circuit for the first time but I am sure he will adapt to it very quickly and find the layout to his liking. There will be a lot of fans, guests and employees of Suzuki at Motegi and we'll be looking to give them something to cheer about!"