Rizla Suzuki is on the way to the eastern German circuit at Sachsenring in a determined mood to find the breakthrough that will give the team its first podium of the season.
Following recent good results in Europe – where Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen scored three successive fifth place finishes between them – the last Grand Prix at Laguna Seca proved to be a tough weekend and the team is focused on maximising its potential in Germany.
Vermeulen scored a fantastic wet-weather podium at the 3,671m Sachsenring circuit in 2008 and is planning to try and repeat that achievement this season – whatever the conditions.
Capirossi was still suffering with a severe arm injury at last year’s German Grand Prix, but that didn’t stop him battling until the end of the 30-lap race and overtaking Randy De Puniet on the very last corner to give him a hard-earned – and painful – seventh.
Sachsenring is situated near the town of Hohenstein-Ernstthal in eastern Germany, approximately 85 kms from Dresden. It is close to the borders of both the Czech Republic and Poland, and this – allied to a huge German fan-base – adds to an amazing event with over 200,000 spectators expected to pass through the gates during the weekend. The track itself features many long corners, most of them taken at high lean angle and on the left-hand-side of the tyre. The main distinguishing feature of the track is a high-speed section that starts with a blind crest which flows steeply downhill before braking for a hard left-hand turn at the bottom of the hill. With the early part of the track being as twisty as any circuit on the MotoGP calendar, the layout gives the riders, teams and especially Bridgestone a huge challenge to get the best performance from the tyre options available.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will take to the track on Friday for the first of two free practice sessions, followed by the second on Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon to decide grid positions for round nine of the MotoGP World Championship that gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 19th July.
“The last race was very disappointing as we had such high hopes for Laguna, but we must learn from that and move forward in Germany. I got a third at Sachsenring last year and although that was in the wet I am sure we can try and repeat that this year in whatever weather we have to contend with. The bike is still working well and seems to improve every time we go out on it The crew have got a good base package and if that works from the start at Sachsenring – and we can get the tyres to match the bike – then I see no reason why we can’t be competitive from the first day.”
“The last couple of races have been a bit tough on us, which has been pretty difficult as we have worked so hard to get everything right. The crew have certainly been giving all they can and we just didn’t get the solutions we were looking for. We have still managed to learn a lot of things about how the Suzuki GSV-R behaves in different situations and on different types of Bridgestone tyres, so all that will be very useful to us in Germany. Sachsenring is not a track that needs a lot of power and speed, but it does require careful balance because you are on the side of the tyre so much. I got podium at Sachsenring in 2007 and I’ve also had a couple of other good results there. It is a track that I certainly enjoy racing at and believe that we can do well at – we will just have to see what happens this weekend!”