And looks to Estoril
Rizla Suzuki rider John Hopkins was unable to achieve the podium position that he was aiming for on the triple flyaway, although it wasn't for want of trying for the Anglo- American.
Hopkins now heads to Estoril with extra motivation to equal
or better team-mate Chris Vermeulen's first podium for the team, as he described in an online diary entry.
THE FLYAWAYS – "To be honest I'm not too happy with how the ‘flyaways' went – I was hoping to come back with my first podium but for a variety of reasons I didn't, a lot of them out of our control. Malaysia was probably my best race of the three, fighting back to sixth after losing loads of places in turn one when Shinya hit Randy and they took each other out. I was lucky to miss them but I guess it saved a couple of passes! I also wasn't too happy with the way the grid was decided on free practice times after qualifying was cancelled because I hadn't used a qualifying tyre like a lot of other riders and on race rubber I'd shown I had the pace to run at the top."
"So that was a missed opportunity, and then worse was to come in Australia when the weather made the whole thing a gamble. My team-mate Chris was one of the riders to come out of it well and I was really pleased for him and the whole of Team Suzuki that he finished on the podium. Of course it always sucks when your team-mate beats you but I just couldn't get any hook-up from my wet set-up and I couldn't stay with the front runners like he did."
"In Japan I was probably trying too hard to make up for it and I had a horrible beginning to the race, just out-braking myself at nearly every corner.
Then I was mixing it up with Dani Pedrosa and he out-braked himself on a right-hander and clipped my front wheel and I went off the track. From there it was a case of seeing what I could salvage and I was able to make up quite a few places. I had a bit of a tussle with Chris on the last lap but I just couldn't get past him. So I'm not really happy at all with the past three rounds and I plan on working harder and finishing off the final two races at Estoril and Valencia really strong."
NO PLACE LIKE HOME – "I got back home to my place near Donington last week and the first thing I did was get my pushbike out. I obviously hadn't had a chance to ride it for three weeks so I hit the road and blew out a few of the cobwebs from all that travelling. At the weekend I headed down to Brands Hatch for the British Superbikes, where Rizla Suzuki had organised for me to ride the GSV-R for a demonstration lap. I was really looking forward to it because it's a pretty big thing for a MotoGP bike to come to such a legendary track for the first time but unfortunately our plans got ruined by the weather again."
"I was sitting waiting to go out at the end of Superbike qualifying but literally 10 minutes from the end it started raining. I still went out to show the fans what a MotoGP bike sounds like and did a couple of stand-up wheelies down the straight, which was cool, but it sucked that I couldn't learn the track in the dry and see what kind of times I could do compared to the BSB boys."
"Anyway, I did a couple of autograph sessions and got to hang out with my old buddy Leon Haslam for the weekend so that was cool. Leon was fighting to win the title but unfortunately it didn't work out for him so I was quite bummed about that. There's been talk of him coming back to MotoGP in 2007 and I know he has some options available but the impression I got was that he'll be staying in BSB and trying to win the title again."
McCOY IS BACK – "Speaking of old friends I'm really looking forward to hooking up with my old Red Bull Yamaha team-mate Garry McCoy next week at Estoril. Garry is going to be riding the new Ilmor 800cc machine and I'm delighted for him because I always thought he was too good to have been dropped from MotoGP in the first place. We always got on really well and I haven't seen him for a long time so it will be good to catch up off the track and see how fast he still is on it."
800cc – "A lot of people are talking about the 800s at the moment and our bike was on track at Motegi last week with the test riders. My chief mechanic stayed behind and he told me it all looks good. Basically they ran the new engine in the current chassis so there is a lot of work to do on the new chassis and I'm looking forward to getting on with it. Myself and Chris will ride the bike for the first time after Valencia and then the testing scheduled up until the winter ban is pretty crazy."
STILL PUSHING TO GET A PODIUM FINISH – "There's a couple of races to think about before that, though, starting at Estoril next week. It's a track I really like, even though I crashed out last year, which was a shame because I was riding well. A couple of good results in the last two rounds could move us up two or three places in the championship and break us into the top ten, which I would be delighted with."
"That's the main goal although from a personal point of view I am still desperate for that first podium before the end of the season so that's what I'll be going for."
DORNA / CAPSIS International