News 4 Jul 2009

MotoGP: Suzuki's Vermeulen eighth after crash in Laguna FP1

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Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen crashed during the early part of the first practice session at Laguna Seca in America today ruining the Australian star’s chance of completing the extensive test schedule he had planned.

Vermeulen (P8, 1’23.217, 27 laps) had just gone to the top of the leader-board before he entered turn two at the 3,610m Californian circuit and locked the front wheel of his Suzuki GSV-R, causing him to crash and slide off into the gravel. Vermeulen was quickly on his feet after suffering no injuries, but was unable to get his bike back on track and due to the access restrictions at Laguna the marshals couldn’t return it back to the pits.

Vermeulen ran back to the garage and mounted his other bike to continue with the session, but this machine was set-up in a very different way to the previous one and it took him a while to get back in his stride, eventually setting his fastest time of his final lap of the day. Vermeulen is still in a confident mood as he aims for his third podium in succession at Laguna Seca.

Loris Capirossi (P12, 1’23.637, 26 laps) spent the majority of the session trying to find the best setting for his Suzuki GSV-R at Laguna. He tried two different set-ups on his two bikes to evaluate the best way forward for this weekend. Capirossi never really got to terms with the circuit and couldn’t quite find the grip he needed today, but is convinced there is plenty more to come from him tomorrow and in Sunday’s race.

Today’s quickest time was set by Valentino Rossi on his factory Yamaha Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more free practice session tomorrow morning followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon, when they will hope to join in with America’s Independence Day festivities by celebrating a front row start. Sunday’s 32-lap race is round eight of the MotoGP World Championship and the action will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).

Chris Vermeulen:
“I was really looking forward to coming back to Laguna as it is obviously a track I enjoy, but it wasn’t the start I wanted! On the fourth or fifth lap I was just starting to build up my pace and as I entered turn two I locked the front wheel and went down. Unfortunately the bike was on the outside of the circuit so I was unable to get it back for the rest of the session. I got back to the pits and went out on the other bike but it was set up very differently – geometry wise – and it didn’t quite work as well as we’d hoped around here. The main thing we did find today was that we are still struggling a lot with the front feeling of the bike as it feels quite a bit different to last year. Bridgestone has brought a different front tyre this time to the one I used in 2008 and we’re trying to make that work better for us. Apart from that the bike feels quite good and it is accelerating quite well off the corners. I do love riding around here so hopefully tomorrow we can get the bike working better and get closer to the front.”

Loris Capirossi:
“We tried to do something big with the setting today and we started with two very different bikes. We never really found the best solution with either bike and went back to the first one and modified that a bit to try and find the best settings for this track. On the last run we did improve a bit but we still need to work harder and improve a lot more tomorrow. We still need a bit more grip and although overall things are ok we need to make some big steps in certain places tomorrow.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We’d hoped to be a bit closer in the first session here at Laguna, but we encountered some problems that the guys will have to work on to solve tonight. Chris’s crash early on in the session spoiled his plan of comparing two different bikes as we were unable to recover his first one after he crashed – so that didn’t help matters overall. For the first session, the laps-times are very good at the front and we’ve got a lot of work to close the gap. The good news is that neither rider is happy with the bike and they know we can go a lot better. We will be doing what we can to improve the GSV-R and I think we can take some decent steps tomorrow.”

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