MotoGP A Go-Go

Press Release | April 6, 2009

The following is from Suzuki…Rizla Suzuki MotoGP travels to Losail in Qatar this coming weekend for the first round of the 2009 MotoGP season with high hopes, following its successful pre-season test program.Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen were regularly amongst the top riders at all of the 2009 tests, culminating with Capirossi recording the third quickest time at the final test in Spain last month, with teammate Vermeulen narrowly behind with the fifth fastest lap. Now both riders will be planning to continue with the good run of form that has seen the 2009 Suzuki GSV-R emerge as one of the most improved bikes of the year.The first round of the season is the only night right race on the calendar as thousands of watts of man-made light illuminate the 5,380m Losail International Circuit to give the riders a clear view of the track and add yet another amazing spectacle to the already high-speed excitement of MotoGP.The Qatar race will be the first time that the new single tyre rule comes into operation, with all riders now using Bridgestone tyres and no qualifying rubber will be available. It will also see a new timetable introduced, as the riders now have two free practice sessions – there were three in previous seasons – followed by the qualifying session to get the grid positions for race day.Capirossi and Vermeulen take to the track at 21.30hrs local time (18.30 GMT) on Friday 10th April. Sunday’s race will get underway at 2300hrs local time (20.00hrs GMT) when both riders will be aiming for glory.Loris Capirossi:

“It was pleasing to finish the test schedule with a good result at Jerez and it shows how far the bike has come on in the winter. But now we have to be focused on racing, because we have to keep improving and try to get the best position we can. We want to be on the podium and winning races and I believe that is where we can be. Qatar has been a tough track for Suzuki in the past, but the test there earlier this year was quite good and hopefully we can get the season off to a strong start!”Chris Vermeulen:

“Last week at Jerez we had a very good test and it gave us a chance to check a few things and get right into the racing mode in time for Qatar. We had an important test at Doha last month and we are going there a lot better prepared than the same time last year. Qatar has been a track that we have struggled at in the past, but the new GSV-R seems to be working very well there this year and both Loris and I were well on the pace in the test. Hopefully we can stay in the top-five at Qatar, because that is certainly what we are aiming for and if we can it will get the season off to a strong start and give us something to build on throughout the year!The following is from Yamaha…The triple-crown winning Fiat Yamaha Team of last year returns to action this weekend for the opening round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. For the second year in succession the first race will be run under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Doha and reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi and last year’s Rookie of the Year Jorge Lorenzo will be lining up alongside 16 other riders all out to claim motorcycling’s biggest prize.2008 saw Valentino Rossi return to the top after two difficult years, winning nine races, taking his eighth World Championship and ensuring that Fiat Yamaha took the Teams’ title and Yamaha the Manufacturers’. He starts the season on 97 career wins – the second highest total in Grand Prix history – and although the all-time record of 122 wins, held by Giacomo Agostini, still stands some way off, with Rossi already signed with Yamaha for next year it is not too distant a target. The irrepressible Italian turned 30 in February and has put in a strong showing during testing, finishing second in the Jerez ‘qualifying’ shoot-out. He has two previous wins at the Losail desert track but last year saw him finish fifth, his second worst result of the season, in his first race with Bridgestone tyres. With a successful season on the Japanese rubber already behind him however there is nothing to hold him back this time and he will be out for victory this weekend.Jorge Lorenzo blasted onto the scene in Qatar last year with a blistering pole position and a mature ride to second, belying his years and the fact that it was his first race in MotoGP. He went on to set successive poles at the next two races before riding to victory at just his third premier class race in Portugal. The middle part of the season saw him run into some difficulties with a couple of spectacular crashes and a series of injuries but he recovered well in the latter stages and took a total of six podiums in the season, enough to secure him the leading rookie title. With a year of experience now under his belt and having shown good form during preseason, including running second fastest at the Qatar test last month, the 21-year-old is undoubtedly a contender for race wins this year.2009 sees several rule changes brought in, the most major of which is a single-tyre rule with all riders now on Bridgestone tyres. Each rider will have a maximum of twelve rear and eight front tyres per weekend, excluding rain tyres, with just two different compounds available to them at each race. In an effort to reduce engine mileage and therefore costs Friday morning practice has been cancelled and all other practice sessions have been reduced to 45 minutes. Post-race tests have also been outlawed, meaning that last week’s test in Jerez was the last chance the teams will have to test this year’s bikes outside of a race weekend this season.The floodlit Qatar circuit features 3,600 light fixtures using 250, 1500 and 2500-watt bulbs and the system needs 13 megawatt generators to produce the required 5.4 million watts of power – creating enough light to cover an area equivalent to 70 football pitches. The bulbs are fixed on 1000 poles with mounting heights from 3 to 36 metres, all linked together by almost 500 kilometres of wire and supported by 300,000 kilos of concrete.Valentino Rossi – “We’re in good shape”

“Qatar isn’t one of our strongest tracks but we still have a few cards to play and I hope that a little more work will see us improve for the first race. Tests really mean nothing once you get to raving, the situation is totally different and really we have little idea what will happen until we get there, it’s very exciting! I’m feeling confident, we’re in good shape even if we’re going to what was our worst track during testing, but I am happy about the performance of my M1 in general; Yamaha have done a great job and so this makes me happy. With the new single tyre rule the tactics will become clearer race by race. I think a lot of new factors will come into play and strategy is going to be quite important to determine where you start the race. I think luck will also be a factor in qualifying, more so than previously! In fact, I am quite curious to see what will happen in a 45 minute race with so few tyres, it’s going to be interesting. I’ve used the last week to relax, recharge and train. It’s going to be a very long season and we need to be consistently at 100%. We will take it race by race and keep focused on the target, which is of course winning the championship once again.”Jorge Lorenzo – “Eager to start”

“I am feeling good and I’m eager to start the championship. Preseason has been hard work, but finally I understood how to be fast with the new Bridgestone tyres and the last day in Qatar and the test in Jerez have left me feeling confident and hopeful for a good start to the season. The tyres are very different and I have had to adapt my riding style, but step-by-step we have become accustomed to them. For qualifying it’s a bit of a pity because I was a rider that was always strong on qualifying tyres, but it’s the same for everyone so we will get used to it. I feel much more experienced than this time last year and much stronger as well, even if I was on pole for this race last year! My target for the season is to improve on my fourth position of last year; I want to make sure I improve year by year. The championship is too big to think about yet, for now I am just concentrating on Qatar. I also have a new number, 99, which I think looks good on my M1 and I hope that it will bring me luck!”Davide Brivio – “Consistency is the key”

“As a team we’re very excited to be finally going racing. Valentino has been strong during testing and we’re not worried about Qatar, we still have some things to try and we’re confident we will be fast enough to challenge there. The new tyre rule is quite exciting, it adds something new to the first race, but we’re very confident because we’ve had a year on the Bridgestones and it’s also clear that they’ve done a good job with the new tyres. It will be strange not having Friday practice, and we will have to make sure we’re very focused and concentrated throughout to use the time in the best way. Luckily we have the most experienced team in the paddock! For the season in general, the key to winning the championship will be consistency. Our aim is to start on the right note in Qatar.”Daniele Romagnoli – “A friendly track for us”

“Finally we’re approaching the first race and in quite good shape after our reduced winter test time. The main aim of winter testing was to find a good base for the new Yamaha M1 for Jorge and we have managed to do this, so we’re confident that we can achieve a good result in Qatar, especially after the last setting changes we made in Jerez. We need to keep working however because it’s clear that our rivals are very strong this year. Qatar is a friendly track for us after Jorge’s great debut there last year both in qualifying and in the race. I think if we could repeat that then it would be perfect! It’s the first time we’re racing with the new tyre rule and we’re definitely going to need to optimise tyre use especially for qualifying, but it’s not a big problem because as I said we already have a good base. The team is excited to be starting again and now we’re just waiting for Friday afternoon to get to work!”The following is from Repsol Honda…The Repsol Honda Team touches down in Qatar this week in preparation for Sunday’s opening round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship. The Losail circuit near Qatar’s capital city of Doha will host the opening round of the 17-race series and, like last year, the world will once again witness the spectacle of a night MotoGP race held under floodlights.Starting his fourth season in the factory Repsol Honda Team, Spanish ace Dani Pedrosa flies to Qatar determined to take part in the opening event of the year. The tough 24-year-old has made encouraging progress since undergoing surgery on his left wrist and left knee at the beginning of March and is cautiously confident that he will have sufficient flexibility and strength in his left leg to compete in Sunday’s 22-lap race.While Pedrosa is not expecting to be at his peak this weekend, having missed out on significant fitness training time and been absent for several days of pre-season practice, the three-time World Champion is nevertheless fully focused on beginning his 2009 campaign by pushing for the best result possible.On the other side of the Repsol Honda garage is Italian star Andrea Dovizioso who will be making his race debut as a works Honda MotoGP rider this weekend. The former 125cc World Champion has quickly adapted to life in Repsol Honda colours and has enjoyed a profitable winter testing programme, ably dealing with the extra demands of being a factory rider. He’ll be relishing his first race outing on the works-specification RC212V at a circuit he performed so well at last year in his debut MotoGP race. On that occasion, Dovizioso finished in fourth place, one place behind his new team-mate Pedrosa, and ahead of 2008 World Champion Valentino Rossi.As well as the novelty of a race held under floodlights, the opening round will be the first chance to gauge the effects of the significant rule changes introduced for the 2009 season. Key among them is the single tyre rule which will see all the MotoGP riders competing on Bridgestone rubber. The number of tyres per rider has also been reduced to 20 per race weekend (eight fronts, 12 rears) and only two separate compounds will be available to the riders at each round. If conditions are wet, each rider is allocated eight wet tyres of a single compound, with an extra tyre allowed if every riding session is wet.Another important rule change involves a reduction in practice time, which will put extra demands on the Repsol Honda riders and their rivals to rapidly arrive at the optimum set-up for each race circuit. The Friday morning practice session has been removed from the schedule, and the other sessions on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and qualifying on Saturday afternoon have been reduced from one hour to 45 minutes in duration. The reason for this rule change is to cut costs, primarily by reducing the engine mileage amassed during a race weekend.Of course, being a night race, the Qatar event has its own special timetable, with “morning” practice beginning at 19:05 in the evening and the race starting at 23:00 on Sunday, local time.DANI PEDROSA

“First, I’ve got to say I’m really happy to be going to Qatar for this race. It’s clearly been quite a difficult winter for me and not the preparation for the season that we would have chosen. But my recovery from the surgery in March has been good – probably a little better than we expected – and that means I have the chance to make the first race, which is great. Obviously I haven’t been able to do the usual level of physical training while I’ve been injured, and we’ve missed out on some testing time, so we have some catching up to do. But I know my team hasn’t been standing still while I’ve been away and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike and riding for the maximum result possible for my situation.”ANDREA DOVIZIOSO

“Well, I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. This was my first winter as a factory Honda tester and it was an exciting experience to be in the full works squad. Now the preparation is over and we’re going racing. I like racing in Qatar, and riding under the floodlights at night is very special. It has an amazing, unique atmosphere and the layout of the track is different from the other circuits, in particular the turns are very long and it is not easy to get high speed corner. Still, I have always had good results in Qatar and last year, at my debut in MotoGP, I had a fantastic race. At the last test in Jerez our machine had improved compared to the previous test we did in Qatar at the beginning of March, so I’m confident for the first race of the season and I will be doing my best to fight up front.”

By Press Release