HOPKINS SECURES POLE FOR RIZLA AT ASSEN

John Hopkins roared to his first ever pole position at Assen in Holland for tomorrow’s Dutch TT, with team-mate Chris Vermeulen putting his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on the second row.

Anglo-American Hopkins (P1, 1’36.411, 29 laps) has nearly secured the top position many times before but today was his day, as he powered his Bridgestone shod Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to the head of the grid with just seconds to spare in this afternoon’s qualifying session. Hopkins and his crew had worked tirelessly today to get the best set-up for Saturday’s race and his pole position is reward for all the hard work they and Hopkins have put in.

Vermeulen (P6, 1’37.077, 28 laps) qualified on the second row of the grid just 0.666 of a second behind team-mate Hopkins. The rookie Australian could have been further up the grid but was baulked by a slower rider during his fastest lap. Vermeulen is happy with the race set-up he has for tomorrow’s 26-lap race and he will be looking to get a good start when the flag drops tomorrow.

Today’s qualifying was held in warm and dry conditions with air temperatures reaching 20°C and track surface 23°C. Tomorrow’s race is round eight of the MotoGP World Championship and both Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers will be aiming for glory when the lights change to go.

John Hopkins:

“What can I say? I’ve had lots of front row starts and now I‘ve finally got that pole position! I’m really happy about it. I am pleased with how the set-up has gone and I am enjoying the track and making the best of everything. My team is working really hard and Bridgestone have brought some great tyres for this weekend. We have got to try really hard tomorrow and go after that first podium. Colin Edwards is running a really fast pace so we know we will have to work hard in the race. It’s a huge weight off our shoulders – getting this pole position out of the way – now we have to concentrate on the 26-laps tomorrow. I am feeling good about the whole situation. My thanks go to the crew, to Bridgestone for some awesome tyres and to Suzuki for improving their level so much, everything seems to be coming together and we are looking forward to tomorrow.”

Chris Vermeulen:

“It’s been a good day. The new-look Assen circuit seems like it will be quite difficult to pass on, so the aim was to get a start from somewhere on the front two rows, and we have achieved that with sixth place. The team worked very well in this afternoon’s session and we made a lot of progress with the bike. We tried a few more race tyres and we have got a good direction which way to go with them. In qualifying I got held up by Ivan Silva on what looked like it would have been my best lap – but that’s racing and I hope he doesn’t do it to anyone else. Congratulations to John, I know he has been working on that pole position and it’s good to see him there, but I’ll be giving him a run for his money tomorrow!”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Well, it’s finally happened for John! He’s achieved the elusive pole position that he has been working so hard to get. More importantly both he and Chris, and the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R, have been improving step-by-step over the last few races. With some new setting parts and new engine internals here we have taken another small step forward. Qualifying was really tight and, as in Chris’ case, the smallest bit of bad luck can make all the difference between pole and sixth place. It really doesn’t mean anything that we were a few hundredths of a second quicker than Shinya, but we will definitely take it and it’s awesome to see Suzuki on pole in the dry.

“It’s been another great job again by all the crew. We have a few more things to look at to try and improve our consistency and durability over race distance before tomorrow. As ever it will be difficult, but both the riders and the team are looking forward to it and we are all up for the challenge.”

A-Style TT Assen Qualifying Practice Classification:

1. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 1’36.411: 2. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) +0.013: 3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +0.334: 6. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.666:

 

Speak Your Mind

*