Loris Capirossi raced his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to his maiden podium for the team - and 99th overall of his career - at the Czech Grand Prix in Brno yesterday.
Starting from ninth on the grid Capirossi lost a couple of places early on, but he fought back to regain them by the end of the first lap. He then set about hunting down the riders in front of him and was involved in numerous battles before making his way up to a podium position on lap seven. He then became involved in a fight with team-mate Chris Vermeulen until the experienced Italian finally got the better of his colleague on lap nine, after the two had overtaken each other a number of times. Capirossi held on to second place briefly before being passed by Toni Elias, but from then on a podium position never looked in doubt and Capirossi crossed the line in third place to the delight of his team.
Vermeulen had a strong start to the race and was up into third on the fifth lap, and was then promoted to second when early race-leader Casey Stoner crashed out. Unfortunately, Vermeulen couldn’t hold on to a podium position as he started to suffer with some front grip issues and was relegated down to seventh. He battled on for the rest of the race and fought his way back to sixth at the end to leave him in seventh place overall in the World Championship.
Today’s race was held in dry, but very overcast conditions with track temperatures reaching 29ºC. A record crowd of 146,133 packed the circuit to see Valentino Rossi race to his fifth win of the season and strengthen his lead at the top of the championship table.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now remains in Brno for a two-day test where it will evaluate many new parts for the ever-improving Rizla Suzuki GSV-R. The team will then travel to Misano for the San Marino Grand Prix which will be held on Sunday 31st August.
“I want to say what a fantastic day this is for me today! After the injury in Barcelona I have not had the opportunity to go quick due to my condition, but all the people around me - including the whole team and Suzuki - stayed really close to me and gave me great support so I am really happy to pay them back with this podium - it actually feels more like a win for me because it means so much! After the break following Laguna, I was able to get some rest and start training again to get myself back in the best condition, and although I am still not 100% I am nearly there and I was able to challenge all weekend. My dream this weekend was to fight for a podium, after Friday I felt I could do that and today I started with a good focus to do my best. This result is for all the team and everybody working with me, because when we make a great result I am really happy, and today I am certainly really happy!”
“I got a good start and was scrapping with the Kawasakis – which seemed like they were surprisingly fast today – and got held up by them a bit. I managed to get past Ant West and then started to catch John Hopkins, but I started to have some issues with front grip and had to change the way I was riding the bike. Once I got past John it felt like I had nothing left and the situation was getting worse – which was awful as the race was only about seven laps old! I kept my head down and worked out the best way to ride and how to try to preserve the tyre. At one stage I thought about coming in, but I worked it out and managed to get home in sixth place to get some points. I’d like to congratulate Loris on his podium today. It was good to see him come back like that after his injury and I’m very happy for him!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Everybody at Rizla Suzuki and back at the Factory are absolutely delighted for Loris that he has overcome the injuries that have restricted him in the last few Grands Prix – he has shown true fighting spirit. A podium is a great reward for his efforts and for his crew who have kept working so hard to help us move forward. Thanks to Loris and to them!
“Early in the race it also looked like we had the potential for Chris to be challenging for the podium, but it wasn’t to be. I think today’s conditions were a bit different to Friday afternoon and unfortunately both the guys – but to a larger extent Chris – suffered from that, making it difficult to keep a consistently fast pace throughout the race. Nonetheless, Chris adapted well and came back into the top-six at the end, and again his performance this weekend has been very strong and consistent.
“Whilst we’re very happy with our third podium in succession, at the same time we have to be realistic and acknowledge that the gap to the winning pace is too big for comfort. We know we have the riders and the crew to take the next step and we are looking forward to a very extensive test over the next two days, with a huge number of items to try, to help us close that gap as quickly as we can.”
Cardion AB Grand Prix Ceske Republicky Race Classification:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 43’28.841: 2. Toni Elias (Ducati) +15.004: 3. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOTGP) +21.689: 4. Shinya Nakano (Honda) +25.859: 5. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 29.465: 6. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +30.608:
World Championship Classification:
1. Rossi 237: 2.Casey Stoner (Ducati) 187: 3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 172: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 120: 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 110: 7. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 99: 10. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOTGP) 77: