Bikes: Strong start for Rizla Suzuki

 at home Grand PrixRizla Suzuki MotoGP began on a positive note during the first day of testing for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi. Chris Vermeulen led the way for the team with the fourth fastest time of the day, as he recorded a best lap of 1'49.382 from his 17-laps around the 4,801m Motegi circuit. Vermeulen got through a large amount of work with his crew - despite the session only being 45-minutes long - and was able to complete three good runs that supplied him, and the Suzuki Technicians, with valuable data as they prepare for this Sunday's race.

Loris Capirossi was narrowly behind his team-mate as he clocked a quickest time of 1'49.980 from his 19 laps, to give him sixth place overall. Capirossi was pleased with the day's work, but is convinced that there is more to come from him and the Suzuki GSV-R. Capirossi and Vermeulen were two of only six riders that clocked sub one-minute-fifty-second laps today as they continued to show a competitive edge during the first practice session.

Today's single session was held in cold and overcast conditions with air temperatures only reaching 12ºC and track temperatures at a high of only 22ºC. With rain forecast for tomorrow and similar weather as today expected on race-day, the information gathered by the team today will be vital to ensure they get the best set-up on Sunday. Today's fastest time was set by reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi.

Rizla Suzuki has one more free practice session on Saturday morning, followed by a 45-minute qualifying session in the afternoon to decide grid positions for Sunday's 24-lap race that gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (06.00hrs GMT).

Chris Vermeulen:

"We've had quite a good start to the weekend here at Motegi. It has not been a track I have gone well at in my last three years with Suzuki, but it has been a big improvement today. We have taken a big step forward with the bike in certain areas - especially accelerating off the corners. There are a lot of those on to long straights here and it all seems to be working well for us. Today we used the same set of tyres for the whole session. They worked pretty well, but did drop-off a bit towards the end of the session, but if it is similar conditions on race-day we know what we will be using. The team did a great job today and we got through everything we needed to in the 45-minutes. With it being a shorter session now, we did well to get in three good runs and try out everything we needed to. Hopefully it will be dry tomorrow so we can learn more about the bike and keep improving."

Loris Capirossi:

"The problem we are finding is that this is the only practice we have on Friday now and we don't have another one to keep working on the bike. We need more time to get the bike just right. It is working quite well but we still have a bit of work to do on the setting. The conditions didn't help today because it was very cold and we couldn't get the tyres up to temperature. We used one set of tyres for the whole session and the left side still looks like new! We will see how things turn out tomorrow, but there is a forecast of rain and then it might be fine for the race, so we will just have to see what happens and try our best!"

Paul Denning - Team Manager:  

"We are happy that some of the problems that we suffered in the Qatar race haven't come up today here in Motegi. That has been reflected in the relatively competitive showings from both riders. The low temperatures and lack of grip was the same for everybody, so we have to be confident in the ability of the riders and the team to get the GSV-R working at its very best in these conditions. It is a solid start to Suzuki's home Grand Prix, but I think that we can find a fair bit more speed for both guys if it's dry tomorrow!"

Polini Grand Prix of Japan Free Practice Classification:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1'48.545: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.056: 3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.420: 4. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.837: 5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +1.152: 6. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.435:

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