at a wet Brno
Chris Vermeulen will start today’s Czech Republic Grand Prix from the front of the second row after setting the fourth quickest time during a wet qualifying session yesterday afternoon.
Vermeulen only managed to complete 10 laps of the newly re-surfaced Brno circuit yesterday afternoon, as conditions deteriorated during the hour and made it very difficult to improve on lap-times.
Vermeulen’s time of 2’13.002 was set on his fifth lap during his first run when the rain was quite light. He then spent some time in the pit-box waiting for conditions to improve, and although he went out towards the end of the session he was unable to better his time and narrowly missed out on a front-row start by only 0.043 seconds.
Loris Capirossi will start his record equalling 276th Grand Prix on the row behind Vermeulen, as he qualified in ninth position. His best lap of 2’14.805 from his 10 laps was recorded just before he lost control in the treacherous conditions and ran off the track before crashing at slow speed in the gravel. Capirossi is confident of a good race tomorrow and is determined to keep his impressive Brno record going – which has only seen him finish a race outside the top-six only once from his 17 previous visits.
Saturday’s qualifying was not only held in very wet conditions, but also in very cool ones, as air temperature was only 11ºC and the track was only slightly warmer at 14. World Champion Casey Stoner will start from pole position, with current championship leader Valentino Rossi and Kawasaki’s John Hopkins filling the other two front row places to give Bridgestone another clean-sweep. The Japanese tyre company also occupied 10 of the top 11 positions today to continue its domination in the wet as it did in the dry on Friday.
Today’s 22-lap race is round 12 of the season and the excitement gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) when both Rizla Suzuki racers will be going all out for glory.
“It was very different today compared to yesterday, which was good really because the forecast is a bit up and down for the race so at least we have had the chance to get some set-up time in both conditions. From this morning’s wet session to this afternoon’s qualifying it was very different because at the start of this afternoon it was much wetter, but there was still a lot of grip out there and I managed to get a few reasonably quick laps in and made quite a good time. I had to come in and make a change – which was quite lengthy - and when I went back out the conditions had deteriorated so much that I came straight back in. I’m in fourth place on the grid and really happy with that and it gives me a good opportunity in whatever conditions tomorrow to get away at the front. I hope it is fine and we can have a strong race and fight for another podium.”
“The qualifying today was a bit strange because at the start I was doing really well and thought I could get a good position, but I made a mistake and crashed and because of that I missed the best time on the track to go fast, before it got too wet. I stayed in the pit for a long time waiting for it to get better and when I went out at the end I tried a new rear tyre but that didn’t work that well so I couldn’t go any quicker. I am on the third row which is not so bad and now I want to see what we can do in the race, because if it is wet or dry I know we can be competitive!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The qualifying result today is a bit disappointing, I think we had the capability to have both riders a bit further up the grid – we just missed the best of the conditions to improve further. Also, when our guys went out at the end on new development rain tyres the performance wasn’t as good as the normal Bridgestone wets which have worked superbly all day, but of course we have to try all the options!
“The good news is that the starting positions are still not so bad and that Loris received no injuries – and neither did the Suzuki GSV-R - from his crash. I think everyone wants a dry race tomorrow and if it does our performance yesterday afternoon gives us good hope for a solid result tomorrow and a chance for both riders to push for a podium!”
Cardion AB Grand Prix Ceske Republicky Qualifying Practice Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2’11.657: 2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +1.189: 3. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) +1.302: 4. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.345: 5. Alex de Angelis (Honda) +1.695: 9. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +3.148: