Suzuki in positive mood

despite tough qualifying

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen are convinced that they will improve on their grid positions during tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix, as both improved their race-tyre lap times today.

Capirossi (P11, 1’29.942, 30 laps) and Vermeulen (P15, 1’30.545, 30 laps) will start from the fourth and fifth rows respectively for Sunday’s 27-lap race, after a tough qualifying session where both riders struggled to get their Suzuki GSV-Rs to use the extra-sticky qualifying tyres to their full potential.

The two Rizla Suzuki riders made significant improvements in their lap times on race tyres at the start of this afternoon’s qualifying session, as they used the time to make vital final changes to the set-up of their machines. Capirossi moved up to eighth quickest, with Vermeulen 12th, and both riders believe they will go quicker in tomorrow’s race, even though they know it will be a difficult task from their starting positions to challenge towards the front. Capirossi’s cause wasn’t helped today by a huge crash this morning, fortunately he walked away from the incident unscathed – unlike his bike which needed a complete re-build.

Today’s qualifying was held in sunny but very cool conditions, air temperature only reached 18ºC, but the sun lifted the track temperature to a more acceptable 38ºC. Home-grown hero Casey Stoner took pole position on his factory Ducati.

Tomorrow’s race is round 16 of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship and the action will get underway at the later time of 16.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT).

Loris Capirossi:

“Today we improved a bit compared to yesterday, but we know this is the not the best track for us so we are quite happy with how much we have improved here since last winter’s test. With the race tyre today my rhythm was not too bad, but we struggled a bit with the qualifiers and couldn’t quite get the grip we wanted. I think we can still have a good race tomorrow but for sure it will be a little bit tough!

“I also want to say a really big thank-you to all my team, because when I crashed this morning the bike was completely destroyed and it needed a 100% re-build, but they did it in one-and-a-half hours and that was really fantastic!”

Chris Vermeulen:

“I’m not too happy with my qualifying position, but we have definitely taken big steps with the bike today and on the race tyres we are a lot further up and can consistently run those times. I am quite happy with the race tyre situation, but we still had a similar sort of problem with using the qualifiers at Phillip Island as we have had before here. The bike uses the tyre too hard and we are not quite able to maintain the grip for a whole lap which makes it quite difficult for us. I just hope I can get a good start tomorrow and put on a good show for all the Aussie fans here!”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“We have taken a step today, but unfortunately it hasn’t shown itself in the qualifying result. The times are closer to the front than they have been before, but the positions have not really improved. I think we can be much stronger over race distance tomorrow. Loris has always gone well at Phillip Island and Chris has got a big motivation to do everything he can at his home Grand Prix – so let’s hope we can produce something spectacular tomorrow!”

“As Loris said, well done to the team – including Chris’s crew for helping out - for building a new bike so quickly in between sessions. It ran faultlessly this afternoon, which is testament to the quality of the guys’ work.”

Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Classification:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1’28.665: 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.069: 3. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +0.091: 4. Randy de Puniet (Honda) +0.143: 5. James Toseland (Yamaha) +0.366: 11. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.277: 15. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.880:

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