Estoril : Suzuki - Day Two
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins saw the prospect of pole position snatched away from him as an incident on his last lap caused him to hit another rider and lose the chance of P1 at Estoril in Portugal today.
Hopkins was two-tenths
of a second inside the quickest time – already set by Valentino Rossi – when a slower rider on the track caused other riders to also slow up and cause some confusion.
As Hopkins came around a fast left-hander James Ellison was in the Anglo-American's way and the Rizla Suzuki man was unable to avoid him. Luckily both escaped injury, and Hopkins was able to finish his lap, but any chance of his second pole of the season had gone.
His previous best qualifying time of 1'36.790 was good enough for sixth place and secured him a second row start.
Team-mate Chris Vermeulen (P12, 1'37.371) will start from the fourth row of the grid. He yet again improved dramatically over the day to eventually post a qualifying time just over a second off the quickest lap set by Rossi.
Riding at Estoril for only the second day in his career, the fast-learning Australian certainly got to grips with the Portuguese circuit and is confident he can secure a top-ten finish tomorrow.
Today's weather was again fine and sunny with temperatures in the mid 20's. The forecast for tomorrow's 28-lap race suggests a chance of rain so both Hopkins and Vermeulen will need to be prepared for whatever comes their way when the flag drops at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
"We're struggling a bit right now with rear edge grip and we'll have to come up with something for tomorrow to improve our race performance - the boys will be working hard tonight to sort something out. I feel pretty good around here so there is no reason that we won't be able to drop the lap-times in the race. As far as qualifying goes I am very disappointed in some of the riders that chose to sit in the middle of track, on the race line, and start arguing with each other. That is completely uncalled for and because of that my lap time got screwed up and I could have got pole, or at least been on the front row. That is now neither here nor there really - we're on the second row so it's not too bad. We need to get a good start and do the best we can. I think the Rizla Suzuki should perform alright tomorrow."
"I was a lot more familiar with the track today. I went out this morning and was a lot quicker straight away than I was yesterday. We made some improvements to the chassis of the bike and in qualifying I just stuck my head down and went for it - I felt like I used the Bridgestone qualifiers quite well. We still have some work to do for tomorrow as we're not 100% sure on a race tyre, but we will work on that in the morning. We will be starting from 12th and my target was for a top 10 so that's what I'll be going for tomorrow – come rain or shine!"
Paul Denning – Team Manger:
"Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has continued in the same vein today as it did yesterday. The whole team has given a very thorough and methodical day's work as they have searched for the best set-up in readiness for tomorrow's race. On the qualifying tyres John looked really good and but for that incident on his last lap I am sure he would be on the front row – at least! On race tyres though both him and Chris, and by the looks of it all the other Bridgestone riders, are still looking for that extra bit of grip. We will certainly be looking at the data overnight to see if we can make further improvements for the race."