Rizla Suzuki MotoGP on the pace in Catalunya

2007-06-08 02:36
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen recorded the third and seventh fastest times respectively in today's free practice sessions for the Catalan Grand Prix near Barcelona this weekend.

Both riders were on the pace early on with Hopkins (1'43.389, 55 laps) heading the leaderboard for a large amount of the morning session, before finishing in fourth place overall. He was also the busiest rider of the day completing a total of 55 laps of the 4.7km circuit. Hopkins was able to start testing the best combination of Bridgestone race tyres right from the start today, as the set-up of his GSV-R was dialled in close to perfection for the Montmelo circuit right from the beginning.

Vermeulen (1'43.713, 53 laps) produced a very solid and impressive run during the afternoon session. He completed nine laps, which was one of the consistently fastest runs of the day, as his times improved and he moved up the classification. He also used his time on track to the full to test the Bridgestone race tyres in readiness for Sunday's race.

Today's practice was held in very warm and sunny conditions with track surface temperatures reaching 54°C this afternoon. Today's best time was set by local hero Dani Pedrosa on his works Honda.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more practice session tomorrow morning, followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday's 25-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).

John Hopkins:

"It felt really good here today straight from the start. This is a track I really enjoy and have a lot of fun riding around here. As with every race so far this year the Suzuki and the Bridgestone tyres are working very well and Stuart has done a great job to set the bike up from the start, so I am fortunate enough to go out and be able to work on getting the right tyres for the race. We have made a couple of minor setting changes, but not much so we have been able to spend as much time on the track as possible. We've got a couple of things to try tomorrow and I'm sure we can improve on our times a bit and make sure we are in the best condition possible to get a good result on Sunday."

Chris Vermeulen:

"It is great to come back here, as this is a track I enjoy and I had a good result here last year. All day we have made progress with the bike, the tyres and the settings. The bike feels really comfortable and I did quite a long run this afternoon and set my best time with a front tyre that had done more than race distance - and the grip still felt good! We have a couple of areas to improve on, but the guys are working hard on those and I'm sure come tomorrow we'll go even faster!"

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"It has been a great day's work today by the riders and their crews. The track was very hot this afternoon which possibly reduced the grip for everyone, but we managed to get in a lot of fast laps - despite the conditions. It's nice to be at yet another race-track where the GSV-R appears to be immediately competitive. It makes everyone's job a lot easier when you are looking for tenths of a second rather than bigger gaps.

"Some of our competitors are really flying and we know it's not easy in this arena, but as ever we'll be in the fight and looking for the best results over the weekend!"

Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya Free Practice Classification:

1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1'43.099: 2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +0.214: 3. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.290: 4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.444: 5. Toni Elias (Honda) +0.452: 7. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.614:

Source: Team Suzuki Press Office

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