2006 MotoGP Championship - Round Eleven - Laguna Seca, USA - July 21/22/23 - Coverage by MCNEWS.COM.AU
Suzuki Day 2 Report
|Chris Vermeulen powered his Rizla
Suzuki GSV-R to pole-position for tomorrow’s Red Bull US Grand Prix
at a scorching Laguna Seca today.
Vermeulen (1’23.168) looked impressive throughout this afternoon’s qualifying. He went to the top of the leader board after only six minutes of the hour-long session, and although his time was bettered by other riders the rookie Australian went quickly back to the top and never gave up first place. This is Vermeulen’s second pole position of the season following his fantastic wet performance in Turkey.
John Hopkins will start tomorrow’s 32-lap race just behind his team-mate from the second row of the grid. Hopkins (P5 1’23.498) looked likely to join Vermeulen on the front row and missed out on that by only a tenth of a second. Hopkins worked hard to find the best set-up for race-day and is confident that he has what is needed.
Today’s qualifying was held in very hot conditions with air temperatures reaching 40°C and track temperatures an incredible 65°C. With similar conditions forecast for tomorrow’s race beginning at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT), it is certain be a battle of attrition for riders, tyres and machines alike.
“For a qualifying session it couldn’t have gone better. We’re in pole position! I did three fast laps at almost identical times and nobody else was close for a while. It got a bit nearer at the end and perhaps a bit too close for comfort. My whole team, Bridgestone, Ohlins and everybody else has been working really really hard. All credit to all my guys as I just had to ride the bike. The track conditions were difficult this afternoon because it was so hot and that made it slippery. The track was actually starting to tear up in places and you could see the bitumen coming away from the concrete underneath. Tomorrow will be hard with this heat over 32-laps, we have a good set-up and think we have the tyres for the job - we hope it is all going to work for us.”
“Basically we were just finding the best set-up that we could today. Everything has just got better and we have taken a big step forward today. We have qualified on the first two rows which is where you need to be here, I would have liked to have been on the front with Chris and congratulations to him for his pole. We will hope to get a good start and be right there because our race pace is looking good. We have a couple of things to try in warm-up and if they don’t work then we have a good set-up anyway. But whatever, come tomorrow afternoon we are going to be ready!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“This is Rizla Suzuki’s third pole of the year and Chris’ second. This was backed up by a huge effort by John to secure a second row start in the dying seconds. A lot has been said about Suzuki’s progress this year and the fact we are discussing our third pole justifies that. Chris was simply awesome this afternoon! There was clearly a lot less grip on the track with unbelievably high temperatures, but both on race tyres and qualifiers he simply squeezed more out of it than everybody else out there. Tom and Chris’ crew also did a fantastic job today and the work they put in helped Chris further.
“As far as the race is concerned, in these temperatures the biggest concern for us will be the same for us as all riders and that will be maintaining grip and keeping a level of consistency to the end of the race. I think we have tried everything we can this weekend, so has Bridgestone, and we are pretty much where we’re at and looking forward to getting the best possible result, whatever that might be!”