Vermeulen Assesses Losail, Qatar performance.
Some significant close season improvements on the GSV-R and some decent preseason test results saw Rizla Suzuki head to the championship-opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar in good spirits, but things did not go according to plan.
A DNF following a high speed crash for Loris Capirossi and seventh place for Chris Vermeulen meant the race itself was something of an anti-climax for the team and they will be hoping for a much better showing next time out in Japan.
Although the result equaled Vermeulen’s best ever finish at Qatar from three previous visits (and was a vast improvement on his nightmare 17th place start to last season), a lack of rear grip late in the race was a major concern afterwards, given that it is a problem the Suzuki riders were also hampered by at several races in 2008.
The Australian rider made a decent start from eighth on the grid (his best ever qualifying result at the Losail International Circuit) and stayed with the pace early on. He held his ground in battles with various opponents in the middle of the race but late on was in danger of being caught by Ducati satellite rider Mika Kallio on his MotoGP debut, as the tyre problem took its toll.
Nonetheless Vermeulen managed to avoid any late mistakes and was happy to have scored some decent points for the team.
Assessing the first GP of the year the 26 year-old from Brisbane noted, "The track conditions on Monday night were a bit different to what it had been all weekend and it was very different to the test which was how I had the bike set-up, and to be honest I really struggled for front-end feeling."
"Towards the end of the race the rear tyre performance dropped off as well so that’s something we’ve really got to work on. It’s hard though with the lack of testing in race conditions and also on race weekends with the sessions being shorter and there being less of them, it makes it very difficult to put race distance on the tyres and to iron out any other problems."
Vermeulen is already in much better shape than this time last year having had a poor start to the 2008 season, with eighth place in Portugal being his best result in the first four races.
He now hopes to pick up the pace at round two in Japan on the 24th-26th April weekend, stating, "Qatar was not the result we wanted because we were hoping to be in the top-five. We have got quite a bit of work to do to catch up to the podium so we need to put our thinking caps on and go to Motegi and have a better performance!"