Estoril : Rizla Suzuki - Preview
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins is currently enjoying his best ever season in MotoGP, but the 23-year-old Anglo-American will be going all out at Estoril this weekend in search of a podium finish.
Hopkins has had two fourth
place finishes this year - at Shanghai and Catalunya - plus the honour of setting the first-ever pole position on the new Assen circuit, but it is a top-three finish that he will be striving for as the MotoGP circus visits Portugal for the penultimate round of the Championship.
Team-mate Chris Vermeulen will be visiting the 4.1km long circuit for the first time and will be eager to get on terms with the contrasting track as soon as possible. The Fernando Pires da Silva circuit features two ultra fast corners and a kilometre-long straight plus one of the slowest sections of any track on the calendar. This allied to the unpredictability of the weather, where rain and heavy winds can play an important role in the outcome, will surely test the Australian to the full.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday for two free practice sessions, followed by a further free session on Saturday morning. The hour-long qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon, with Sunday's 28-lap race getting underway at the earlier time of 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
John Hopkins: "Estoril is 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 six or seven, 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!"
Chris Vermeulen: "We've learnt a lot of things on the three-week tour about the bike and we will be looking to put them into action, beginning with Estoril this weekend. I have never been to the track before but I am well aware of the type of weather to expect there. I just hope that we get as much dry time as possible so I can learn the circuit and make sure I'm competitive for Sunday's race."