Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Loris Capirossi produced a hard fought race to bring his Suzuki GSV-R home in sixth position at Motegi yesterday.
Starting from sixth on the grid, Capirossi maintained the position early on as he kept up with the break-away front group, but a mistake on lap 12 cost him dearly and he dropped back towards the following pack. He chased back to Nicky Hayden in fifth, and was close enough to make a challenge on the last lap, but he had a big slide and the opportunity disappeared. Capirossi scored 10 points for his sixth place finish and has now moved up to ninth in the riders’ championship.
Chris Vermeulen was battling with a group of riders and still looked in with a chance of a top-10 finish, but the Australian star was struck with a braking issue that caused him to run off the track on lap 17. Vermeulen re-joined the race but was unable to continue and was forced to retire. He was visibly disappointed, but remains in high spirits as he prepares to travel to his home Grand Prix in Australia next weekend.
Kousuke Akiyoshi had a very short race that lasted only three corners. The Japanese Wildcard rider was taken out by another rider in this morning’s warm-up and his crew worked hard to prepare his bike in time for the race. He got to the grid just in time for the lights to change and although he made a good start and passed several riders immediately, he suffered a huge slide and crashed out unhurt on the first lap. He will now remain at Motegi for a day’s testing, as Suzuki begins preparations for the development of the 2009 GSV-R.
Today’s race was held in very overcast conditions with the threat of rain never far away. A colourful and ebullient crowd of over 57,000 witnessed Valentino Rossi win the race and regain the World Championship title.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now make the journey south as it heads to Australia for the only race held below the equator. Round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship is at Phillip Island on Sunday 5th October.
“All weekend has been not too bad for us - we’ve worked hard to find the best setting and to try to work in a different method. The race was a bit tough and I tried really hard at the beginning, and stayed with the front group, but in the middle of the race I made a mistake and lost contact with Nicky. I fought back to him and tried to catch him on the last lap but unfortunately I lost the rear and missed the opportunity. I think we had a bike capable of top-five today, but to be any higher than that would have been very difficult. We still need to keep working very hard and I feel quite good about the future and believe 100% in the Suzuki project. We now have to finish the best way we can this season so we are in a good position for 2009.”
“It’s always very frustrating not to finish a race and when it is something that you have no control over that makes it even harder to take. I made quite a good start, but I had a couple of moments early on in the race as the tyres weren’t quite up to working temperature. I got involved with a group of riders and as soon as the tyres started to work well I felt like I had a good speed and rhythm. After about three or four laps I started to have a bit of an issue with braking and stopping the bike, and eventually I ran off the track. I am really disappointed about what happened as I thought I was in with a chance of at least a top-10 today, but now I can look forward to my home GP next weekend and try to make up for it there!”
“I had tried all weekend to get a good engine management set-up and last night we made some big changes and the feeling was a lot better. Unfortunately I crashed in the warm-up and it meant I had to use my spare bike for the race and I struggled to get a good start - but I did manage to get past five or six bikes. Then in the third corner I had a big slide and crashed. I am very unhappy about this weekend and now I must concentrate on the test tomorrow and make some more improvements and help to develop the 2009 bike.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Loris showed great fighting spirit today to keep the GSV-R in the top-six and really we should’ve had Nicky for fifth, but sometimes - when you push to the maximum - it is easy to make a mistake and the chance to get him just didn’t quite happen. The most important thing is that Loris went to the maximum all race and the technical areas in which we need to improve to move us further forward are very clear.
“Chris has had a Japanese Grand Prix to forget and it’s disappointing for him and for the whole team, given that he showed such good speed here in the test after the race last year and that we were coming here looking for a good result. Luckily he won’t have too long to think about it because we arrive in his home country of Australia in a couple of days, when we will try and put things right there for him.
“Akiyoshi’s weekend went from bad to worse to disaster! He’s a great guy and a much faster rider than he was able to demonstrate this weekend. We hope that he has a much better weekend at the final round of the Japanese Superbike Championship that comes up soon.”
A-Style Grand Prix of Japan Race Classification:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 43’09.599: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +1.943: 3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +4.866: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +6.165: 5. Nicky Hayden +24.593: 6. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +25.685: DNF. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP): DNF. KOUSUKE AKIYOSHI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP):
World Championship Classification:
1. Rossi 312: 2. Stoner 220: 3. Pedrosa 209: 4. Lorenzo 169: 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 136: 7. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 117: 9. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 96: