Rizla Suzuki’s Italian star Loris Capirossi will start his home Grand prix from the front row of the grid after qualifying in third place at hot and sunny Mugello today.
Capirossi (1’49.121, 27 laps) had improved all day as he set the fifth fastest time during this morning’s final free practice session and was one of only four riders to record sub 1’50 laps during the early part of the qualifying session – when riders were still using the harder compound of Bridgestone race tyre that they will favour in tomorrow’s race.
During the final third of the session Capirossi bettered his times to such a point that he was in pole position with only a few seconds remaining, but he saw that snatched from him right at the end by championship leader Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner. His time was still good enough to give him the final front row position, his second successive at Mugello and the Rizla’s third in succession following Chris Vermeulen’s in 2007.
Vermeulen (P11, 1’50.405. 29 laps) continued to improve on his lap times and his GSV-R throughout today, and at the end of the qualifying session he was only 1.418 seconds from pole. He used the experience of his team-mate to good effect in the qualifying session as he followed Capirossi around the complicated 5,245m Mugello Circuit to learn some different lines. Vermeulen is confident of the set-up he has for the Suzuki GSV-R tomorrow and is planning on a good performance in the 23-lap race.
The lights will change to go for tomorrow’s race at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) with both Rizla Suzuki riders aiming for the best result possible at this awesome circuit.
“It has been a fantastic day today, especially because I was a bit angry yesterday and we had a really good meeting with all the team and decided to change a lot of things on the bike. Stuart is so clever because he made the right modifications to the GSV-R and from first thing this morning it was working well. Our target is to always try and do our best, but this front row is a great feeling for us. The race is tomorrow but this has given a good lift to the whole team and we will now try as hard as possible tomorrow afternoon. I know that Suzuki has been doing a lot of work at the factory and we now hope that the new engine that is coming to Barcelona will help even more. The race will be hard for everybody tomorrow, but I don’t have anything to lose and I will try my best and see what happens!”
“It is not a good qualifying position, but we have definitely taken a step forward today with the bike. All of the mechanics and engineers have done a great job today and they have given me a lot more confidence – especially in the front of the bike. Hopefully we’ll take yet another step forward in the race tomorrow. I want to congratulate and also thank Loris. He helped me out in the session and showed me some lines that his 20 years of experience here have produced and you can definitely see the difference when you follow him – that certainly helped me out towards the end of qualifying. I’m in a reasonable position on the grid and in with a lot of good riders, so if I can get a good start hopefully we can have a decent race tomorrow.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Things were really tough yesterday afternoon for both the guys and the team has done very well to turn the bike around and inspire a much higher level of confidence in the GSV-R today. It’s fantastic to be back on the front row, especially with the high level of competition that there is right now. For Loris to get amongst that group is going to help his confidence and self-belief – not just for tomorrow but as a kick-start to the rest of the season. Well done to Loris and well done to his crew for giving him a bike capable of reaching the front row.
“Chris has made a decent step forward today and also seems to be coming out of his illness, which whilst he wouldn’t want to use it as any form of an excuse, can’t be an ideal situation. It has been a good job by the whole team today and we are looking forward to the Grand Prix with high hopes tomorrow!”