at a sweltering Sepang
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s Loris Capirossi battled to a well-earned seventh place at yesterday afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang as track temperatures reached an amazing 60ºC.
Capirossi was ninth at the halfway point and was never out of touch with the seven rider skirmish for the third podium position. He pushed hard for all 21 laps and made some aggressive passes in the latter stages of the race to move up to seventh. Capirossi tried to improve further in the closing part of the race but just couldn’t find a way through and brought his Suzuki GSV-R home for nine valuable championship points.
Chris Vermeulen raced to ninth position – a result that gave Rizla Suzuki enough accumulative points to move up to fourth in the Team’s Championship. Vermeulen too made a late charge as he moved from 11th to the top 10. He made a pass with three laps to go to move into ninth, but was just too far away from the riders in front to make a further challenge.
Team Test Rider Nobuatsu Aoki did his best to get his prototype Suzuki GSV-R up into the points, but his lack of race fitness worked against him – this was his first competitive outing in a year - and a couple of technical issues with his bike restricted his chances of a higher finish and he brought his bike home in 17th.
Today’s race was watched by 38,500 spectators, who were treated to a comprehensive victory by recently crowned World Champion Valentino Rossi on his factory Yamaha.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now head back to Europe for the 18th and final round of the season at Valencia in Spain next weekend.
“It has been a bit of a tough weekend, but I am quite happy today because I tried 100% all race and when you see a podium place that close it makes you try even harder. I struggled a bit to get past Colin as our bike still needs more speed to be able to overtake other riders - so that is still something we need to work on. Once I got past Colin I immediately caught up with Casey because he was quite a bit slower over the whole lap than me. I tried to overtake on turn two and then ran wide and he came back past, then on the next lap I went into a corner much faster to get past, but I touched the back of his bike and ran off the track! If I had got by Casey earlier I really believe I could have challenged for the podium, but it was not to be. I really want to say thanks to all my crew because again they have worked really hard this weekend in difficult conditions. We still have to keep pushing really hard for the extra performance we need - I believe in our potential and we really need to start next season with a good bike because I feel strong and still have a good opportunity to fight with the top guys, and I will try everything I can to make that happen.”
“It was very hot today and that made it really difficult out there - the track was nearly 20 degrees hotter than it had been all weekend! I got a good start and felt very comfortable on the first lap. After a few laps I was right up with Loris and everything seemed to be working well, but I then had a few issues with front end grip and that continued as the race went on. With about eight laps left the rear grip started to go off, making the front and rear more even, and I was able to pass de-Puniet and get up to ninth. I thought we had enough pace to do better today, but that was the best we could mange and we have certainly taken some steps forward. I am now looking forward to see how the improvements we have made recently work at Valencia, which is a slower track and should probably not affect our horsepower deficit so much.”
“The bike was working really well until near the end when we had a bit of problem with the feel of the front end. I thought I could have passed some guys to get a point but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that and we also had a few engine performance issues that caused my speed to drop – I really hoped it would rain so I could come in and change the bike as I didn’t want to break the engine! I took it easy to the end of the race so that I could finish. I certainly believe from this we now have some very good data to help us for next year and I hope I can help develop the bike for the GP team a lot more.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The results aren’t our best of the season, but the performances were top notch today, and but for a better start – or grid position – we certainly had the chance to fight for a podium. Towards the end of the race Loris was the second or third fastest rider on many laps and that is an encouraging sign, he pushed to the maximum all race and did a great job. Chris didn’t quite have the front end feeling today that he managed to generate on Friday, so he’s a bit disappointed with the end result, but by keeping his head down he also achieved a top-10 finish and helped Rizla Suzuki to move up to fourth position in the Team’s Championship. We are now looking forward to Valencia – a track that Rizla Suzuki performed well at last year – and to finish the season in style!”
Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix Race Classification:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 43’06.007: 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +4.008: 3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +8.536: 4. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +8.858: 5.Shinya Nakano (Honda) +10.583: 7. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +15.936: 9. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +23.174: 17. NOBUATSU AOKI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1’48.363:
World Championship Classification:
1. Rossi 357: 2. Stoner 255: 3. Pedrosa 229: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 182: 5. Dovizioso 161: 8. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 125: 10. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 111: