Bikes: Capirossi ....

takes superb third in Official Practice

Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi rode to a fantastic third position during Sunday's Official Practice at the final pre-season test, held at Jerez in Spain.

Capirossi (1'39.757, 15 laps) spent much of this morning's free practice session getting his Suzuki GSV-R finely tuned for the 4,423m re-surfaced Spanish circuit, in readiness for the timed afternoon shoot-out. He worked hard with his crew to get the best from his bike and reaped the rewards in the qualifying-type session to put his bike up towards the top of the timesheets.

Team-mate Chris Vermeulen was only narrowly behind Capirossi, as he clocked a fastest time of 1'39.848 from his 13 laps. He used a harder compound Bridgestone tyre during the timed session to try and replicate the racing conditions he will encounter when the team return for the Jerez GP next month. Vermeulen was pleased with the results and is convinced that this shows the whole team is now capable to challenge this season.

Today's proceedings were held in very changeable conditions that varied from bright and warm sunshine, through strong winds and finally a heavy rainstorm for the final free practice of the day. Ducati's Casey Stoner produced the fastest lap in the Official Practice to win a brand new car for his efforts.

Rizla Suzuki now travels to the Middle East for the first round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship. The season kicks off with the only night race on the calendar, which will be held at Losail in Qatar on Sunday 12th April.

Loris Capirossi:

"I think this has been a very positive day, especially this morning because we found a good setting that made the bike very comfortable for me to ride fast. I worked hard with the whole team and tested many things and I now have a really good feeling - I can say that it is a 100% improvement from last year! In every test we have been competitive and this is very important for us. Today's third-place was in a 45-minute session, but the good thing is that this was like a qualifying session that we will have in the season and everybody had the same tyre so we have got to be pleased with that. The position today is good but we have to continue to work as hard as we have done this year. The Factory has done a really great job in the winter, but we have to continue because our potential is good, but not at the top and we need to be at the top! I want to say a big thanks to the whole crew for the work in testing and especially to Suzuki for the bike they have given us. This is only the beginning really because we need to go well in a race and we don't care a lot about today's result as it will be when the racing starts that it matters!"

Chris Vermeulen:

"It was a bit difficult today with the weather changing like it did, but I tried a hard tyre - which we will probably use as the race tyre here -  in this afternoon's session and I did a run of fast and consistent laps .Then I tried the softer tyres and went a bit quicker. I was fairly happy with the lap-time, but it would have been good to have been a couple of places up the board or even a bit closer to Casey's time. I guess the time between Loris and me proves that the whole Rizla Suzuki team has lifted things and that Suzuki has done a great job in the off-season. It's the closest we've both been to the front in a qualifying session for a long while and hopefully it's a sign of what will be coming this year - if that's the case it's going to be a good year for us!"

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"Everyone at Rizla Suzuki had hoped that the lack of qualifying tyres would help our race potential and looking at today's result that theory seems to be true. We only kept back two new tyres for both of our guys because we'd planned a full test programme - including a long run - after the timed session and I think maybe some of our competitors used more than that. Nonetheless, we can be satisfied that we are continuing to show good potential and that both Loris and Chris are evenly matched. The confidence of both riders is increasing all the time and our target has always been to keep improving and we will try to keep doing that. We are all now looking forward to racing and trying to replicate the pre-season performances where it really matters!"

IRTA MotoGP Test Official Practice Classification:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1'38.646: 2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +0.719: 3. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.111: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +1.183: 5. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.202:

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