News 30 Jun 2009

MotoGP: Vermeulen targeting podium hat-trick at Laguna Seca

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Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen is looking to make it three podiums in a row at Laguna Seca this weekend as the team travels to America for the US GP.

Vermeulen heads to a track where he has enjoyed the most success in his MotoGP career – a pole position during his American Grand Prix debut at the circuit in 2006 should have been followed by at least a podium on race day, but bad luck intervened as he finished fifth. In 2007 and 2008 Vermeulen made up for that by scoring successive podiums and showing that he has become something of a Laguna Seca specialist. He will certainly be aiming to repeat – or better – last year’s third place as he aims to improve on the progress he showed at Assen last weekend.

Loris Capirossi will be determined to show the American fans what he is capable of on a Suzuki after having to battle against injury at Laguna last year and never really getting comfortable on the 3,610m track. Capirossi was cruelly robbed of a hard fought sixth place last time out in the Netherlands after another rider forced him into the gravel on the last corner and will be eager to put that behind him as he continues to make improvements to the Suzuki GSV-R.

The Laguna Seca circuit is situated on the Monterey Peninsula about 160kms south of San Francisco. The track was built on a dried up lake within a field artillery target range and manoeuvre area belonging to the US Army and today it is part of the Monterey County Parks Department. The track features one of the most incredible turns on any racetrack in the world. The famous ‘Corkscrew’: a left and right hand combination with a huge drop in elevation, where the riders feel like they are falling off the end of a cliff after reaching the turn by a blind crest on an uphill approach. It certainly is the focal point on the circuit and a place where lots of exciting action happens.

The US GP weekend takes on an added degree of excitement this weekend as it falls in-line with American Independence day celebrations on July 4th, so the fans at trackside will all be in a party spirit as MotoGP rolls into town.

Rizla Suzuki has two hour-long practice sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, followed by an hour of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s race is round eight on the MotoGP calendar and the excitement will get underway for the 32-lap race at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).

Chris Vermeulen:
“I’m really looking forward to Laguna Seca, it’s certainly one of my favourite circuits and I’ve been on the podium there for the last two years, as well as a pole position in 2006. I certainly want to try and repeat those performances and get the Suzuki on the podium for the first time in 2009. I hope it is a good race for all the fans and that the weather is as nice as it usually is. I am sure we can be competitive from day one and put on a good show.”

Loris Capirossi:
“I wasn’t at full strength at Laguna last year following my crash at Assen and all the changes in direction really made it a painful race for me. This year I am going there fully fit and the bike seems to be improving every time I ride it, so we are hoping to be right up amongst the front guys this weekend. The season still has a long way to go and I am now in-touch with the top-five in the championship and that certainly has to be our target – to break into that group and go from strength-to-strength at every race.”