Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi qualified for tomorrow’s Estoril Grand Prix on the front of the third row after a promising session in Portugal today.
Capirossi (P7, 1’37.489, 30 laps) was pleased with the progress that his latest incarnation of the Suzuki GSV-R made during today’s session, as he continued to make improvements. Capirossi was determined to test his bike to the full during this afternoon’s hour-long qualifying session, recording more laps of the 4,182m Estoril circuit than any other rider. He is confident of a good race tomorrow and is sure that the advances made with the new bike will enable him to challenge for a competitive finish tomorrow. Seventh place on the grid signals Capirossi’s best grid position for seven races – since he qualified in sixth at Assen in June.
Chris Vermeulen (P15, 38.342, 29 laps) was still suffering with his back injury today, but he wasn’t hampered by it too much as he completed 29 laps during this afternoon’s qualifying. Vermeulen was pleased with the improvements that were made to his bike, but disappointed to be back on the fifth row of the grid. He will be pushing as hard as he can from the start tomorrow to reconcile that grid position as he aims to score valuable championship points.
Today’s qualifying was held in warm and sunny conditions with a gentle breeze keeping temperatures at a pleasant 25ºC. Jorge Lorenzo took his fifth pole position of the season on his factory Yamaha, with team-mate and World Championship leader Valentino Rossi in second place on the grid.
Tomorrow’s 28-lap race is the 14th event on this season’s calendar and it will get going at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“Overall it’s been ok for us today, we made some improvements this morning and tried to continue with that this afternoon. We changed a few things on the bike and the whole team worked well to make things better for me. We have got a bit of vibration from the front and we need to resolve that, but other than that we are quite competitive. I want to say thank-you to Suzuki, because normally this is one of the worst tracks for us and we have improved a lot on the rear grip – which was a big problem in the past – and the new package we have is much better. We have improved on top speed as well, we are now quite competitive and for us this is great and a very important step forward.”
“We made some good changes to the bike today and consistently improved on the lap-time. We ran both the compounds of tyres on the front and rear this afternoon and we’ve got a reasonable race set-up. I’m a bit disappointed in actual performance because I just couldn’t quite get the lap-time I wanted, but I was able to achieve the one I did quite easily so we should be able to run at that pace all race. Hopefully I’ll get a good start and make up a few places early on and have a good race.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We hoped yesterday that overnight changes would see both of the guys find a reasonable amount of lap-time and we’ve managed to achieve that. Chris has never been ‘Captain Qualifier’ and today was a disappointing result, which without any question he will improve upon tomorrow. With Loris we still haven’t got the optimum set-up for the new GSV-R and we’re struggling a bit with consistency as we go from track to track, but he showed a lot of determination to pull out a good lap at the end of the session. It was a bit ragged and you definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be sitting on the back, but now we have achieved more outright speed we hope we can smooth some things out tomorrow morning in warm-up and then have a decent Grand Prix in the afternoon.”