Rizla Suzuki racers Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen will be looking to get good starts in tomorrow’s San Marino and Rimini Riviera Grand Prix after a below-par qualifying left the pair with tough grid positions.
Capirossi (P10, 1’35.561, 29 laps) looked promising in the first part of this afternoon’s qualifying session and a top-six grid position certainly looked within his reach. He couldn’t quite keep the momentum going through the whole session and with qualifying lap-times being so close he just wasn’t able to find those extra tenths-of-a-seconds that he needed for a higher place. Capirossi will start tomorrow’s race from the front of the fourth row and will be hoping for a strong start to get up with the front group early on.
Vermeulen (P13, 1’35.790, 32 laps) will start Sunday’s race immediately behind his team-mate, as he heads the fifth row. His problems from yesterday were corrected overnight by his crew and he was able to use all of today’s practice to improve the set-up of his Suzuki GSV-R in preparation for the race.
Today’s qualifying was held in pleasant summer conditions at the Misano circuit, with air temperatures getting up to 27ºC and track temperatures reaching 40ºC in the afternoon sun. The battle for grid positions saw World Championship leader Valentino Rossi topping the time-sheets and he will start tomorrow’s 28-lap race from pole position, which begins at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“We took another step today with the setting so that was good, but we tried two different set-ups this afternoon and I am not really sure which is the best one – we will need to look at the data tonight to see. The first few laps this afternoon were quite good but I struggled a bit in the middle of the session and then I managed to go a bit better again towards the end. I am not happy with my 10th position on the grid as I feel we have a much better potential than that. Tomorrow it will be important to do a good warm-up and get a good feeling and then to start the race well. Our rhythm is as good as anyone in the top-six – other than the two Yamaha’s and the one Honda at the front – so we need to get in that group and make sure we stay there!”
“We have improved the bike a lot today and the issues we had yesterday never came back because the guys worked really hard to overcome them last night. The bike felt much more consistent and we are very close to sixth place, but it is so tight here on times and there is a big group all together. We have been going quicker all day and the last lap I did was my fastest. The only downside was that we kept the same front tyre in for the whole session and at the end it had done 33-laps – much more than race distance. I am disappointed with 13th place but I am happy with my race pace and the lap-times I was doing in qualifying I am sure I can do in the race, so hopefully we’ll be quite strong tomorrow.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We have improved the bike by a reasonable amount over the course of the weekend and in the end the lap-time and consistency is quite reasonable. However, the result – particularly when we consider Loris set his qualifying time on a front tyre with more than race distance on it and on a nearly race distance hard rear – is quite disappointing because there should have been more potential with fresh tyres in qualifying mode. It is the same story as last weekend that we need to step it up in the race and despite it being a tricky track to pass on we’ve definitely got better potential over race distance.”