in upbeat mood
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is off to Laguna Seca in California for the USGP this weekend in confident mood, boosted by the podium for Chris Vermeulen last time out at Sachsenring.
The team has made the transatlantic journey direct from Germany to be ready for the sixth race in eight weekends this coming Sunday, which will bring to a close the first half of the season before all the teams take a well-earned break.
Vermeulen is looking forward to Laguna following his success there in previous seasons. Last year he finished second and in 2006 he qualified on pole, only to be robbed of an almost certain podium position by a mechanical problem.
Loris Capirossi is still making a recovery from the severe puncture wound he suffered at Assen last month and will again need to show his true racer spirit to overcome the difficulties he will face riding in the extreme temperatures that can be encountered in California.
The 3,610m long Laguna Seca circuit is situated near the town of Monterey, approximately 160kms south of San Francisco. The circuit was built in a former army training zone and features one of the wildest parts of track anywhere in the world. The scary looking ‘Corkscrew’ is almost a sheer drop over a blind left hand turn with a sharp right at the bottom, where riders encounter amazing changes in g-force. The ‘Corkscrew’ along with Laguna’s 10 other turns, are considered among some of MotoGP’s most demanding, and this added to its stunning setting in the oak-studded hills near to the scenic Monterey Bay makes it one of the most spectacular venues on the MotoGP calendar.
Vermeulen and Capirossi will be joined at Laguna by AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies as a wildcard. Spies made his debut on a Suzuki GSV-R prototype MotoGP bike at Donington last month – when he deputised for the injured Capirossi – and will be looking to impress in front of his home fans. Spies will also be competing in the AMA Superbike race at Laguna on his Suzuki GSX-R, so he has a busy weekend ahead of him.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s three pronged attack will take to the track on Friday for two free practice sessions, followed by a further practice on the Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place in the afternoon to secure the all-important grid positions for Sunday’s 32-lap race that gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).
“We had a great result in Sachsenring and now I’m really looking forward to going to Laguna. I really like the track and have done well there in the last couple of years and will certainly be looking to try to take the next step up the podium from last year’s position. The bike worked very well there last year and if we can get on the pace early on then there is no reason why we can’t make that happen.”
“My arm is still quite sore and I am fed up with feeling in pain like this, but I will still give it everything I have got at Laguna. I know it will be tough, but that is what MotoGP is about. I need to start getting some good results to make up for the races I didn’t score in and here is a good place to start. I am sure I will be 100% by Brno, but I want to be at my best in America and I will certainly be trying my hardest!”
“I am really looking forward to this weekend. It will be awesome to ride the GP bike in front of all the American fans. I know it is going to be hard as these guys are pretty good and I have the added pressure of racing in the Superbike championship as well, but I will be going for it that’s for certain! I have got one race under my belt in MotoGP and I had a thorough test at Indianapolis that went really well, so now it is down to me to show what I can do!”