Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins, plus Team Test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi all scored points in today’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Vermeulen and Hopkins finished in 11th and 12th places respectively with Akiyoshi – making his Grand Prix debut – just behind them. Vermeulen was racing at Motegi for the first time and gave a solid performance on his Suzuki GSV-R, Akiyoshi was also particularly impressive in his first ever MotoGP race and beat seasoned racers to score a fine 13th place.

Hopkins’ result could have been even better but for the fact that he was knocked into the gravel by another rider as he was trying to charge through the field. He re-joined the race in last position but made a spirited comeback to make up eight places by the end. Hopkins keeps up his consistent run of points scoring, which now stretches to 12 races and is only bettered by World Championship leader Nicky Hayden.


Today’s race was held in brilliant sunshine and watched by over 63,000 enthusiastic fans, who were treated to a home victory for Bridgestone, as Loris Capirossi on his works Ducati raced to victory.



Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now return to Europe for the penultimate round of the 2006 MotoGP season, to be held at Estoril in Portugal, where both Hopkins and Vermeulen will be planning to score valuable points in their quests for top 10 Championship positions.

Chris Vermeulen:

“It was difficult starting from 15th with a lot of very fast guys in front of you. It made the first lap very hard, but we did get a reasonable start and got into a bit of a race with a few guys. Unfortunately the front guys were too fast for us this weekend. Our race pace was not what we wanted it to be and I think we have got some work to do when we get to Estoril to get back up there challenging!”

John Hopkins:

“I had a horrible beginning to the race. I just went out and tried to hard, I was out-breaking myself at nearly every corner. Then I was mixing it up with Dani Pedrosa and he out-braked himself on a right-hander and clipped my front wheel and I went off the track. From there it was a case of seeing what I could salvage and I was able to make up quite a few places. I had a bit of a tussle with Chris on the last lap but I just couldn’t get past him. Not really happy at all and I plan on working harder and finishing off the final two races very strong!”

Kousuke Akiyoshi:

“I have had a very good weekend here at the Japanese Grand Prix and to get points from my first race is very special. I would like to thank Suzuki and Bridgestone for this chance and supporting me all weekend. I hope I can race in another Grand Prix and do even better next time.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Although we scored some valuable points this was not what we had hoped for in Japan, especially as the Bridgestone tyres work so well here and the pace John had shown all weekend – with the exception of the last part of yesterday’s qualifying – had been very promising. John’s particularly disappointed as he knows what might have been, and but for the fact that he was punted off by another rider, his race pace showed that he was capable of a much higher finish. Every credit must go to him for battling back through the field and getting well into the points.

“Chris and Akiyoshi san will have both learnt a lot from their first Grand Prix races at the Motegi circuit and it was very pleasing to see them both battling with each other and more experienced riders throughout the majority of the race.

“We now have to re-group before we go to Portugal and take forward all that we have been through during this tough and sometimes disappointing three week tour. We know we have the potential to do a lot better and we will certainly be pushing as hard as we can in the final two races of the season!”

A-Style Grand Prix of Japan Race Classification:

1. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 43’13.585: 2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +5.088: 3. Marco Melandri (Honda) +8.378: 11. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +39.263: 12. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +39.440: 13. KOUSUKE AKIYOSHI (TEAM SUZUKI MOTOGP) +45.595:

World Championship Classification:

1. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 236: 2. Rossi 224: 3. Melandri 209: 9. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 101: 11. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 91: 20. KOUSUKE AKIYOSHI (TEAM SUZUKI MOTOGP) 3:


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