Bikes: Strong start for Rizla Suzuki

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s three-pronged attack at the USGP at Laguna Seca in California got off to good start during the first day of practice, with all three riders showing promise for the weekend ahead.

Chris Vermeulen (1’22.847, 61 laps) led the way for the boys in blue with the fifth fastest time of the day as he again showed his liking for the 3,610m American circuit. Vermeulen got a podium position here last year and will certainly be looking to emulate that this weekend.

Loris Capirossi (1’23.185, 58 laps) is still feeling the after-effects of the crash at Assen last month, and the physically demanding Laguna Seca circuit did nothing to help his recuperation. Capirossi again dug deep into his reserves to overcome the pain that he is suffering to record the 10th fastest time of the day and show signs that he has more to give as the weekend progresses.

Wildcard rider Ben Spies (1’23.244, 52 laps) was just one place behind Capirossi as he posted the 11th quickest time despite this being only the second MotoGP race that he has competed in. He has also hampered by a big crash in this morning’s session, but was able to walk away from the incident uninjured. Spies was also in action in the AMA Superbike practice today where he was second fastest behind Suzuki team-mate Mat Mladin.

Today’s two sessions were held in varying weather conditions, this morning was overcast and very cool whilst this afternoon was in bright, warm sunshine. This caused huge differences in temperatures with the track at 26ºC this morning and 53ºC this afternoon. Casey Stoner on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati was again very dominant as he posted a time over three-quarters-of-a-second faster than his nearest rival.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will continue with its practice tomorrow in a further free session followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s race is round 11 of the season and the event gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).

Chris Vermeulen:

“I was looking forward to coming back here as it’s a track we’ve had success at on the Rizla Suzuki, and it’s a track I really enjoy with its character being so different to the European circuits. Today was quite difficult though and we struggled quite a bit to get a good feeling with the bike. We made some steps forward this afternoon and went quite a bit quicker and closer to the front, but we will have to make some more of those steps tomorrow to get right up there. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that and make sure we are challenging for the podium come Sunday.”

Loris Capirossi:

“This track is very physical and quite a bit harder for me to ride on than at Sachsenring, but I worked hard with the crew to make the bike work the best for me around here and in the end we found a solution that was not too bad. We will still need to work quite a bit more tomorrow to get it right. The weather conditions today didn’t help because we had lots of hard tyres for the high temperatures but it was too cold to make use of them. For tomorrow I hope the weather is better, but I really want this weekend to pass in the best possible way and then I can get three weeks rest. It is really hard for me because every time I ride I have to have treatment on the wound to clean it and then have it dressed, but I want to do my best here so I will block it out and be as strong as I can!”

Ben Spies:

“It was a good day today as a whole. Obviously the crash this morning hurt my confidence a little bit, but I got faster the whole session this afternoon and a couple of tenths quicker would have put us right up there, as it is so close. I think we can build on this and get faster and faster all weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“We’ve had a reasonable first day here at Laguna, with all three riders doing a good job. Chris has been incredibly consistent at his fastest pace but still needs more out of the bike to be able to challenge for the front. So that has to be our target, to find the right solutions tonight to help him to do that.

“This is a very physical racetrack and Loris is clearly struggling with the injury, but as ever he is giving 100%. Ben has acquitted himself very well despite the setback of this morning’s crash and looked strong this afternoon. We’ve still got work to do for all three guys, but we’re confident we can take decent steps tomorrow.”

Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix Free Practice Classification:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1’21.826: 2. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +0.808: 3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +0.853: 4. Alex de Angelis (Honda) +0.982: 5. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.021: 10. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.359: 11. BEN SPIES (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.418:

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