Rizla Suzuki PR:
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP completed the first free practice session at Mugello in Italy today with Loris Capirossi less than a second off a provisional front row start at his home Grand Prix.
Capirossi (1’51.007, 24 laps) was seventh overall on the timesheets, but he was only 0.863 away from the third fastest time of the day. He worked extremely hard with his crew throughout the hour-long session to improve his Suzuki GSV-R, saving his best for last as he recorded his two quickest laps of the day at the very end on the session.
Chris Vermeulen (P13, 1’51.994, 25 laps) also improved steadily throughout the afternoon as he too produced his fastest lap on his final circuit of the 5,245m Italian track. He believes there is still a lot more to come from him, the bike and the whole package, and will be working hard with the crew this evening to hopefully make things happen tomorrow.
The whole MotoGP field basked in warm sunshine today as air temperatures reached 27ºC and track surfaces got up to 52ºC. With the hills of the Tuscan countryside looming large over the circuit like some monolithic spectators, championship leader Jorge Lorenzo recorded the best time of the day.
Rizla Suzuki will take to the track again tomorrow morning for the final hour of free practice, before the excitement of the qualifying session takes place in the afternoon. Sunday’s 23-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) when the excited hordes of fans at trackside will be whipped up into a frenzy come race-time.
“It was not easy today as we struggled a bit to get a good feeling from the front of the bike, but it was good to have a full hour to work with because we were able to get through a lot of changes. We tried a couple of runs with different settings and then one with a very extreme setting. We will certainly improve tomorrow, but having said that the bike is not too bad at the moment. I really enjoy riding here at this track, but at the moment – until we get the setting right – it is just not quite perfect!”
“It’s great to come back to Mugello; this is certainly a circuit that most of the GP field enjoy. It hasn’t been a good circuit for Suzuki in the past as we have suffered a bit with the high-speed turns and the long straight. During today’s session we made some progress with the bike and tested both tyre compounds to see which one gave the best feeling and durability – we’ve certainly got a direction with that. My biggest issue at the moment is with front grip and making the bike steer a bit better. We’ll be working hard with the engineers this evening and we already have some ideas how we can improve.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It has not been the start to the weekend at Mugello that we’d hoped for, but we got through a lot of work and the direction that we need to improve in is very clear. Loris took a big step forward at the end to get within a second of the fastest guys, but he still has some big restrictions holding him back. If we can fix those in the morning things don’t look too bad at all in that department.
“Chris has been rather unwell during this week and it is not clear if that had any significant effect during the session, but we know that he can go a whole lot better than that and the pressure is on to take big steps tomorrow morning, which I’m sure he can achieve.”