Rizla Suzuki is in England this weekend for the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, an event that the team considers its second ‘home’ GP of the season.
With the team’s operational headquarters in southern England and a big majority of the squad hailing from the UK – allied with the strong ties Chris Vermeulen has with the British racing scene from his early career – the Donington event is a real homecoming for the Japanese based Suzuki MotoGP squad.
Vermeulen is hoping to be fully fit at Donington, following his injury-hit race in Germany last weekend, and is determined to keep up his successful British GP record that has seen him record one podium and two front row starts from his three previous visits.
Loris Capirossi will be making his Suzuki MotoGP debut at the British event after he was sidelined through injury last year – although he does hold the Grand Prix rider record for the most GP starts at Donington with 17. Capirossi knows the importance of this race to the team and is in a determined mood to put his injury and the disappointment from last week at Sachsenring fully behind him as he goes after a result that will get the team back on target to be competitive for the remainder of the season.
This weekend’s British Grand Prix will signal the end of an era as it will be the last time – for the foreseeable future – that the event will be staged at Donington Park. The 4,023m circuit will give way to Silverstone in 2010, so this will be the final chance spectators will get to see the amazing sight and sound as the awesome MotoGP bikes stream down Craner Curves, one of the most impressive pieces of track anywhere on the MotoGP calendar.
Rizla Suzuki will start the weekend by being involved in the ‘Riders For Health Day of Champions’ fundraising event on Thursday. This will be followed by the first and second free practice sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning respectively. The qualifying for the race will take place on Saturday afternoon when both Rizla Suzuki racers will be going all out to get the best grid positions for Sunday’s 30-lap race, which will get underway at the later time of 15.30hrs local time (14.30hrs GMT).
“I am really looking forward to Donington Park as it’s like another home GP for me because I grew up racing bikes in the UK and spent a lot of time at Donington in my early career. We were on the podium in the wet a couple of years ago and had a good race there last year in the dry. We have made steps forward with the bike – even if some of the results haven’t gone our way. I hope my injuries allow me to push to 100% and get the Suzuki up to where we need to be.”
“Donington is a really important race because after the weekend we had in Germany we need to have a good performance and find the best solutions and settings to help us go quick. I missed the race last year after my injuries at Barcelona and I really love the track so that was disappointing and I want to make up for it this season. We need some good results because the whole team is working so hard and although we probably don’t have the best bike at the moment, our target is to keep making it stronger and stronger until it is capable of challenging at the front. My condition is nearly 95% and after the practices I am sure I will be fully fit for the race.”