Capirossi out, Spies in, as Vermeulen looks to continue with progress
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will give reigning American Superbike Champion Ben Spies his MotoGP debut at next weekend’s British Grand Prix, following confirmation that Loris Capirossi will be unfit for the Donington race.
The 23-year-old American from Longview in Texas was due to make his Rizla Suzuki MotoGP debut as a wildcard rider at next month’s USGP in California, but he has been drafted in early to replace Capirossi who suffered a broken right hand at Catalunya last weekend. Capirossi is now targeting a return at the following weekend’s race at Assen in The Netherlands and will continue to work on his fitness to try and achieve this goal.
Chris Vermeulen will be returning to the scene of one of his podium successes in 2007 when he takes to the track at the 4,023m long Donington Park circuit. Suzuki’s Australian star finished third in wet weather conditions at the British venue last year and will be looking to continue with the improvement in form that both he and the Suzuki GSV-R have shown in recent races.
The British GP is the ‘official’ home round for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP with the team’s headquarters based near Bournemouth in England, and many fans will be expected at trackside to cheer on the ‘boys in blue’. Donington Park is situated on the Leicestershire and Derbyshire borders right in middle of England and it is not a circuit that rewards outright power, but one that repays smooth and consistent riding ability with fast laps. Donington is certainly a track of two-halves; from the start/finish straight into the sweeping Craner Curves and through long right-handers on to a downhill straight the circuit is one of the most flowing tracks in the world, but it then features two hairpins and three first-gear corners in a row making for very exciting slow speed action as riders are able to make last gasp out-braking manoeuvres right at the end of the lap.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will be at Donington Park early this year so it can participate in the Riders for Health Day of Champions (www.riders.org) as both riders and team members alike will participate in various events to raise money for a worthy cause, culminating in a huge fund-raising auction in the evening.
Track action will get underway on Friday with two free practice sessions and a further free session on Saturday morning. The hour-long qualifying takes place on Saturday afternoon as riders fight it out against the clock to get the best grid positions for the 30-lap race that starts at 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 22nd June.
“We have improved over the last couple of races and we need to keep that going. It is no secret that I have not had the best of starts to the season but I know we can turn things around. We tried a lot of different things in the test at Catalunya on the Monday and found some stuff that will help us go forward not just in Britain but at other tracks as well. Donington is like a home race for me as I spent a lot of my early career racing in the UK so it is always good for me to come back here and I’ll be hoping to put on a good show for all the fans and give my mostly UK based team something to shout about!”
“I was excited that my first GP was to be at Laguna Seca in the States, but I’m now more excited by this! I think this will be a good thing for me to start out at Donington; it is a track I don’t know so I have no pressure. I haven’t done any testing on the bike or with race and qualifying tyres so I am not really expected to do anything much, so I can just go out there and learn how everything works and enjoy the event. This will be good for when we get back to the wildcard races in Laguna and Indianapolis because I know those tracks and I’ll have some knowledge of the bike and be able to put my head down and go for it there. This is great for me to get the chance, but it is in an unfortunate way that I am there because of the injury to Loris and I wish him all the best on a full recovery. I hope I can represent everybody really good and just want to go out there and have some fun!”
“I’m really disappointed not to be racing at Donington as it is the team’s home Grand Prix and I know there will be a lot of fans there that have come to see us. I tried to get fit and although Dr Costa says the break is healing well, it won’t be good for me to race there as it won’t be strong enough. So I hope to be back for Assen. I wish Ben all the best on his debut, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable on my bike because I want it back soon!”