Day One At Czecho: UPDATED

Press Release | August 15, 2008

The following is from Suzuki… Rizla Suzuki MotoGP began the first day back after the mid-season break in fine form at Brno in the Czech Republic today, with both riders in the top-six. Loris Capirossi led the way for the boys in blue as he clocked a time of 1’58.000 from his 46 laps to give him third place on the timesheets at the end of day one. Capirossi is still nursing the injury he sustained in Assen in June, but he appeared untroubled by the wound as he consistently improved his times around the newly re-surfaced 5,403m Brno circuit. Chris Vermeulen continued with his good run of form – which has seen him take two podiums in the last two races – at the Czech track today. He was constantly in touch with the leaders in both sessions before finishing in sixth place with a time of 1’58.462 from his 46 laps, just over a second behind today’s fastest time set by current World Champion Casey Stoner on his Bridgestone shod Ducati. The new surface at Brno looked likely to be a severe test for the Bridgestone tyres as little data about performance was available before this weekend, but the Japanese tyres certainly got to grips with the recently laid asphalt, as the top-eight bikes were on Bridgestones. Today’s practice was held in warm but overcast conditions with the ground temperatures reaching the mid 30ºC mark, but that could all change when Capirossi and Vermeulen take to the track for tomorrow’s final practice session in the morning and the qualifying in the afternoon, with rain forecast over the weekend. Sunday’s race is round 12 of the MotoGP season and the race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT). Loris Capirossi: ‘I am really happy with today’s performance because after the first couple of laps this morning I was a bit worried, because we just hadn’t got the setting right. I think that was mostly down to the new surface and it was a bit dirty and made it very difficult to control the bike. I came into the box and we made some changes to the bike and by the end of this morning’s session the feeling was good. We made a lot more changes this afternoon and with the new setting I felt really good on the bike. My lap-time is not too bad, but I think we can improve on that, we have the power and I need to work on my rhythm a bit. One of the best things today is that I am nearly at 100% after the injury, my condition is great and this weekend I want to give the team something good because after recent races they really need it!” Chris Vermeulen: “I really enjoy it here and it was great to get back on the bike because the last week or so I’ve started to get itchy feet. The bike worked well straight out of the crate and we used the base setting that we have had success with at the last couple of races. We are working on a few modifications and doing some longer runs on the tyres to test the durability on the new surface. It seems to be going really well and we have a couple more things to work on tomorrow. I’m quite looking forward to the weekend and just hope the weather stays good.” Paul Denning – Team Manager: “The first thing I have to say is that it’s great to have the original spec Loris back in the garage! His arm is still causing him some pain and it doesn’t look too good, but it is at a level now where it isn’t restricting his riding and he is able to concentrate on the bike and his own performance. Being in the top-three today is a great encouragement for the team and tremendous personal boost for Loris after all the pain of the recent Grands Prix. “Chris has also been on the pace all day, he’s been consistently quick and able to maintain a very good lap-time – even on tyres that have done more than race distance. I think he’s still got a bit more left in him and his crew will be looking to make the job easier with a few detailed changes to the bike overnight. “Bridgestone has done a fabulous job to prepare tyres for this completely new surface. We expected some abrasion problems with the front, but this is now reasonably well under control and the rear tyre is working very well and very consistently. The front two guys – as in Laguna – are a bit ahead, but the rest of the field is very close and we will need to keep our focus to stay in the fight for the podium positions.” The following is from Yamaha… Jorge Lorenzo made a tentative return to action at Brno today, having spent the summer break recuperating from the three broken metatarsal bones he sustained during a crash at Laguna Seca. The Fiat Yamaha Team rider is now walking without crutches and was able to ride without pain today, confident that he is back to 90% fitness on the bike. It was not an easy first day back however as the Spaniard struggled with front-end grip and was only able to put in the 11th fastest round. The team will now work hard, together with Michelin, to find a way to improve the situation for tomorrow. Meanwhile Valentino Rossi had a more successful opening day back at work, finishing the day second fastest behind Casey Stoner in the combined standings. Jorge Lorenzo Position: 11th Time: 1’58.977 Laps: 45 “I am feeling very good physically, and I only feel pain when I walk to the bike in the garage – once I’m on it I am fine. I am feeling confident but I need half a second more in order to be at the front. The main problem is in the front tyre; I am worried because the first Michelin is in seventh and this isn’t great, it is clear that we all need to work together to improve this. We are working very closely together with Michelin and Yamaha and we are trying to find a better way for us here this weekend. It is very difficult at the moment to fight for the podium in the dry, and in the wet we don’t know yet. My main aim this weekend is to finish in the top seven. The new asphalt is better than last year so this is a good thing. One more thing I want to say – one of my mechanics, Juanito, has just becom e a grandfather and so I want to say congratulations to him!” The following is from Repsol… The Repsol Honda Team had a tough first day of practice at Brno today, its sole rider Dani Pedrosa completing the first two sessions in 16th position. Pedrosa is still struggling with the broken left wrist and index finger he suffered when he crashed out of the lead of the German GP on July 13. He is also having some issues with tyre choice. Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden is absent from Brno due to an injury suffered during practice for the X Games Supermoto event in Los Angeles on August 1. The American cracked a bone in his right heel when he landed badly from a jump. He is due to return to action at the San Marino GP on August 29/30/31. Conditions at Brno today were warm and overcast, with heavy rain falling shortly after this afternoon’s session. Further rain is forecast for tomorrow, though race day is expected to be dry. Dani Pedrosa, 16th fastest, 2m 00.540s “Both of today’s sessions were quite difficult for us. My left wrist and index finger are still hurting when I ride the bike, and the tyres are not helping the situation. The asphalt is new, but it’s the same situation for everyone. We have tried several different solutions today and so far we still haven’t found the right tyres for the race. We will keep working tomorrow, looking for the best tyres and working on the machine. We hope we can get some more dry track time and then we will see for Sunday.” Kazuhiko Yamano – Team Manager“Dani is still feeling pain from his left hand injury. But he can ride and we believe that the situation will get better. We are having some difficulties with tyre choice, Dani is lacking contact feeling here, especially from the front tyre. His crew have made some small adjustments today, mainly to the suspension. We hope he will be in better shape tomorrow.” The following is from Kawasaki… John Hopkins showed today that an enforced seven week lay-off through injury hasn’t blunted his skills, as he made his racing return aboard an evolution version of Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP racer during today’s opening practice sessions at Brno. Despite a fall in each of the one-hour sessions, Hopkins felt confident that the revised specification engine and chassis components added to his Ninja ZX-RR for this weekend have made a vast improvement. The 25-year-old Kawasaki pilot finished the day eighth overall at the 5.403km Brno circuit, after posting his fastest time on his last lap. Hopkins will work with his crew overnight to find an improved setting for a better front-end feeling from his Kawasaki, as it was this lack of feedback that caused the Anglo-American to crash in both sessions. Hopkins is feeling confident ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying and is looking forward to capitalising on the upgrades that the Kawasaki engineers have made to his machine during the summer break. Teammate Anthony West was disappointed not to have made more of an impression as he suffered with turning and stability issues during both sessions today. The 27-year-old Australian was struggling to change direction smoothly and also complained of a lack of feedback from his Ninja ZX-RR. West’s crew will look to find a solution to give the Kawasaki pilot, who finished the day 17th overall, more confidence in his machine and improve the turning performance to alleviate the problems he has faced today. The weather could play a big part in tomorrow’s proceedings as rain is forecast at the Czech circuit, which could mean tomorrow’s final free practice and qualifying sessions are held in wet conditions. John Hopkins #21 – 8th – 1’58.830 “It’s a shame we had two minor falls today; I just lost the front while finding the limit, but it was nothing major. The new engine parts have made a huge difference as the bike has more horsepower and improved power management. The chassis upgrade has helped us to turn better, especially into the corners, but we need to work on getting a little more feedback from the front-end. My knee is quite sore, especially when I have to put a lot of weight on it to change direction, but it’s holding out well and I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow to continue with what we’ve learnt today.” Anthony West #13 – 17th – 2’00.621 “This is not exactly how I’d hoped to make a return following our recent summer break. The bike has plenty of grip, which is where we’ve suffered in the past, but I just can’t get it to turn. Unfortunately this lack of stability means there is very little feedback from the machine when cornering and I don’t have much confidence, which is reflected in our lap time. We’ve identified the areas where the problems are more significant and hopefully overnight we can find a solution to this. I think the weather will have a big part to play tomorrow, I just have to stay positive and hope we can turn it around in qualifying.”

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