Rizla Suzuki MotoGP riders Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi began the Dutch TT weekend at Assen in a positive style as they both showed marked improvements during today’s practice session.
Vermeulen (P8, 1’38.350, 24 laps) was only 0.508 seconds off the fastest time of the day and is convinced that time can be made up in tomorrow’s session. He and his crew put in a large amount of work in the 60-minutes that was available to them today and the labour paid dividends as Suzuki’s Australian star improved every time he went back out on track.
Today’s fastest time was set by Randy de Puniet on a satellite Honda as he followed Vermeulen for a lap and used the Suzuki’s slipstream to good effect.
Capirossi (P10, 1’38.429) was equally positive with his first day’s endeavours as he clocked a time just 0.079 seconds behind his team-mate. Capirossi lapped the 4,555m Assen circuit 27 times to make him one of the busiest riders on track today. He concentrated on finding a good durability from his Bridgestone race tyres and finished the session with the same front tyre that he had started with and, even though it had gone over a race distance, Capirossi was very pleased with the performance.
Today’s practice was held in very sunny but slightly breezy conditions with track temperature reaching 25ºC. Both of the Suzuki GSV-Rs looked resplendent today as they were adorned with a Rizla logo in Dutch orange to celebrate the national colour of the Netherlands, at what is almost a ‘home’ race for team’s title sponsor.
Rizla Suzuki has a final free practice session tomorrow morning, before an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. This week’s race is the only Saturday event on the MotoGP calendar and the lights will change to go for the 79th Dutch TT at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Saturday 27th June.
“It’s been great weather at Assen for the first day of practice and it gave us a good whole hour in which we could get a lot of work done. The conditions were very consistent for the session and it gave us a good opportunity to get the bike working. We tried different geometry settings between both bikes and definitely found a good direction to head with that. The mechanics worked really hard to find the best set-up today and we also tried both types of tyre – front and rear – so we know what is also working well there. We have some ideas to help the bike work well tomorrow and hopefully it will be another dry day and we’ll be able to go even quicker.”
“This first practice has been quite good for us today because I didn’t have a lot of information from last year as I only did one session, so it felt quite new for me here on a Suzuki. The bike was working well and we only changed a few things during the practice. I did the whole session with one front tyre and at the end when I tried to push a bit harder it started to move a bit more, but it still felt good so I’m happy with that. Overall it has been a good first day and now I want to get straight back on the bike and make things even better!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It has been a positive first day’s work here in Assen and whilst the positions are not super-exciting the time gap to the top riders is much closer than it was a year ago. Both Chris and Loris have found a good rhythm straight away and we still have quite a bit more left in the truck to try tomorrow, which we hope will create further improvements. In general Assen seems a much more optimistic place for Rizla Suzuki than it was 12 months ago. It will certainly be as tough as it always is in MotoGP, but we are getting closer all the time and we’d like to keep that momentum going.”