Jerez : Rizla Suzuki – Day Two
John Hopkins qualified his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R in sixth place for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix, during this afternoon's hour-long qualifying session at Jerez.
Hopkins (1'39.625) was never outside the top-eight during the session and
by using his Bridgestone qualifying tyres to their full extent was able to clam an all-important place on the front two rows.
Team-mate Chris Vermeulen (1'40.328) was disappointed with his 14th position that will see him starting from the middle of the fifth row. Vermeulen was only 0.926 seconds behind pole-setter Dani Pedrosa, as today's competition saw the first 15 riders separated by less than a second on the timesheets.
Hopkins and Vermeulen both performed well earlier in the session - using Bridgestone race tyres - and are both confident of improved race pace during tomorrow's 27-lap event. Team Test Rider Kousuke Akiyoshi (1'41.202) continued to improve during his first European Grand Prix, and qualified in 19th place, just 1.8 seconds off the quickest time.
The lights will change to go for the second round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship at 14.00hrs local time (13.00hrs GMT) tomorrow, with all three Rizla Suzuki racers going in search of a good result.
“I'm a lot happier this afternoon than I have been throughout the rest of the weekend. We really got through a lot of work and made some headway with the race tyres for tomorrow. We did a decent run in the qualifying session and I'm feeling comfortable with our race pace. There are still a few things that we need to sort out, we'll look at the data tonight and improve on it for tomorrow. Going into qualifying I said I'd be happy with being on the front two rows, but when the time comes you always want more.
I am quite happy to start there and the field is so close that a good start is essential. I need to get away well, through the first corner cleanly and then stick with the front group – we'll see what happens from there!”
“I'm really disappointed with how I qualified! I felt quite consistent and strong on race tyres during the session but I just didn't get it right on the qualifiers. We had a bit of a problem early on with one of the bikes, but I got on to the other one and everything seemed alright. I had two different types of qualifying tyre and the first one worked really well, but I felt like I didn't use it to its full potential, as I tried to get used to the extra grip. On the second one I just couldn't get the grip I wanted and although I did a similar lap-time I wasn't able to move up the grid. I now have a lot of work to do – again – but hopefully we can get off the start well and get a good result.”
“I am really enjoying this weekend. It is a big honour for me to race the Rizla Suzuki here at Jerez. I would like to be higher up the grid, but I know I can be strong in the race and we will see what we can do tomorrow.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“As predicted small gaps in lap time made a massive difference in grid positions for tomorrow's Grand Prix. John got everything out of the GSV-R and the Bridgestone qualifier to position himself on the second row for the start of the race. When the adrenaline kicks in for the 27 laps I'm sure the restriction in his hand will disappear and we'll see another strong performance. “Chris is obviously disappointed with his position but he has to put that behind him and focus on being his normal aggressive self in the race. The good news is that both riders have picked up race pace in this afternoon's session and made improvements to the bikes which will allow better consistency. “Despite his position not looking very good on paper, congratulations must go out to Akiyoshi san who has improved massively on only his second visit to Jerez. He is now running lap times very close to the front guys and we hope he has a good race tomorrow, and that he has learnt a lot over the course of the weekend to help in the continuing improvement of the GSV-R.”