Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is on its way over the equator for the only Grand Prix on the calendar held in the southern hemisphere, as the team embarks on its trip ‘down under’ to Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix.
Chris Vermeulen is eager to get to his home circuit and perform in front of his countrymen at the 4,448m Australian circuit. The 27-year-old will be hoping for better luck than he had at last year’s corresponding event, when a first lap collision pushed him off the track and ruined any chances of a good result. Vermeulen has happy memories of Phillip Island, as it was the scene of his first MotoGP podium for Suzuki in 2006, a feat that he would certainly like to repeat this time around.
Loris Capirossi has an enviable record at Phillip Island, having competed at the antipodean circuit 11 times and recording six podium finishes and five front row starts, including victory there in his first Grand Prix season in 1990 riding a 125cc on his way to the World Championship title. Capirossi will be looking to repeat that sort of form as he heads to Australia following some promising developments onboard the Suzuki GSV-R at recent events.
Philip Island is the fastest circuit of the season and possibly the finest race-track in the world. Its amazing position overlooking the Pacific Ocean is simply breathtaking, added to the awe-inspiring series of turns that the track has to offer and the ultra-fast straight, this is one of the must-see events on the racing calendar. It is a real examination of both man and machine and an ultimate test on tyres due to the long corners that are taken at high speeds and powered around.
The antepenultimate round on this year’s schedule will be the first of a Pacific Rim double-header with the race at Sepang to follow just a week later. The action gets underway on Friday with the first of two free practice sessions – the second the following morning – with an hour of qualifying scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s 27 lap race will start at 16.00hrs local time (05.00GMT).
“A home GP is always very exciting because all my friends and family will be there and it’s always good to race in front of your countrymen. The last time out at Estoril we made improvements in the longer corners with the GSV-R, so hopefully that will help us at Phillip Island. That long straight is going to be hard work, but we’ll certainly be trying as hard as we can to keep in the slipstream. I really love racing at Phillip Island and hopefully we’ll have a good time there!”
“I am still disappointed by what happened in the race at Estoril, but I am confident of doing much better at Phillip Island than we have in the past on the GSV-R because of the developments we made in Portugal. I had a tough race in Australia last year, but we did improve on lap-times and with the new bike I think we should be aiming for an even better result this year. We have struggled at Phillip Island in the past, but we are certainly going there in a much better state of mind than we have done for previous visits.”