Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen scored his second podium finish in a week as he rode to a fantastic third at Laguna Seca yesterday.
Starting from eighth on the grid, Vermeulen had to fight to get near the front and was involved in an exciting battle with Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso early on, before getting the best of both of them on lap eight to move into third place. He then had quite a lonely ride as he was never put under pressure for the final podium place, but was too far behind the leaders to mount a challenge for the top spot. Vermeulen kept his concentration for the remainder of the race and brought his Suzuki GSV-R home safely for his second successive podium at Laguna Seca.
Team-mate Loris Capirossi had a very tough afternoon as he tried to come to terms with the demanding American track. The injury to his right arm caused him severe distress throughout the tiring 32-lap race, and although he fought his way to eighth place early on he couldn’t keep the momentum going and eventually finished 15th to take the final championship point.
Wildcard rider Ben Spies produced a tremendous performance against the experienced MotoGP field. Making only his second GP start and beginning from the fifth row in 13th place, he soon set about making his way through the pack. By the end of the first lap he was up to 10th and continued to fight for places as the race progressed. Spies was up to seventh as the last lap started but was passed by Toni Elias right at the end to give him eighth place at the chequered flag.
Today’s race was watched by almost 50, fans at trackside and they were treated to one of the best MotoGP battles in history as Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner went head-to-head at the front, with Rossi coming out on top at the end from Stoner to give Bridgestone yet another clean sweep of the podium positions.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now takes a well-earned rest as the mid-season break begins. The next time the team will be in action is at Brno in the Czech Republic on Sunday 17th August, where Vermeulen will be hoping to keep his podium run going and Capirossi plans to be back to full fitness.
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium again. That’s two podiums in a row, not just in two races but two in a row at Laguna as well! The last two have come in completely different conditions and I think it proves that the Suzuki is becoming a lot more competitive and the changes we are making is getting us a lot closer to the front. I was hoping to run with the front two today but I got held up a bit at the start and lost some time. After I had got through they were a long way ahead and I ended up having quite a lonely ride – it was tough to keep my concentration at times as there was nothing to focus on other than count down the laps.”
“It was a really hard day today. We had a good setting and although I didn’t start so well I managed to make up a few positions early on, but after a couple of laps I started to have a lot of pain and struggled to change direction - and this is a track that demands a lot of that. I just tried as hard as I could to keep going to the finish. It’s not good to end with one point but I always try to fight for the best I can and for the team – this is the most important thing I can do. I know one point is nothing but I did fight till the end! I hope now to get three weeks of good rest and get my condition 100% right for Brno, because today it was impossible to ride fast.”
“It was good out there today and I’ve got to be pleased with the result. I couldn’t get going right off the bat as I haven’t quite got used to the tyres yet. I started to reel a few riders in and I could see Nakano and Toseland coming back to me. I got past them and on the last couple of laps I could see Hayden and Dovizioso up there but they were a bit too far away. Everything was getting better and better and then Elias came past me and I thought I had one more lap, but the chequered flag was out and that was the end of the race. It was a good race and I will now be even more prepared for when we get to Indianapolis later in the year.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Congratulations to Chris on a fantastic ride and a well deserved podium. From eighth on the grid it was never going to be easy to get to the front, but he rode a great first lap, and once he was into third he was always going to finish on the podium. We were also very impressed with Ben’s ride, his speed grew as the race wore on as he got a better feel from the GSV-R - he can be very proud of his weekend’s work. MotoGP has a field full of highly talented racers and Ben certainly didn’t look out of place among them.
“As for Loris, the physical nature of the track was always going to make it difficult for him, and having seen his injury first-hand this morning it’s amazing he is even attempting to ride the bike! We can only say thanks for his commitment and bravery to stay out there and we’re looking forward to getting the real Loris back at Brno in four weeks time.
“We would also like to say congratulations to Bridgestone, to Valentino and Casey for putting on an amazing display and to Tom Sykes of our sister Rizla Suzuki British Superbike team for taking a fantastic double win back in the UK today.”
Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix Race Classification:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 44’04.311: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +13.001: 3. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +26.609: 4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +34.901: 5. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 34.901: 8. BEN SPIES (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +41.927: 15. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1’08.207:
World Championship Classification:
1. Rossi 212: 2. Stoner 187: 3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 171: 4.Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 114: 5. Dovizioso 103: 7. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 89: 11. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 61: 19. BEN SPIES (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 10: