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Double disappointment for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP at Losail

Double disappointment for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP at Losail

Double disappointment for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP at Losail

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP suffered a double setback at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar as both John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen were forced to retire early in the race.

Hopkins had made his intentions known in the morning warm-up as he stormed to the fourth quickest time in near gale-force winds. In the 22-lap race he got off to a great start and was soon up to eighth place from his 13th position on the grid. But, as he was rapidly catching the riders in front of him, disaster struck and the 22-year old Anglo American was forced to retire from the race with a cooling system fault.

Vermeulen also made a good start and was starting to close on others riders when he too had to retire from the race with a similar fault to his team-mate.

Today's race was held in very windy conditions with temperatures reaching only 26°c. The second round of the MotoGP World Championship was won by reigning World Champion and last year's winner, Valentino Rossi.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will now re-group before the next round of the championship is held at Istanbul in Turkey on Sunday 30th April.

John Hopkins:

"It's a really big shame with what happened to me and Chris - I know that he is as frustrated as I am. I got a great start and I felt extremely good during the first couple of laps and made a lot of passes. I felt like I could have got past the guys in front of me but then the bike gradually lost performance and that was it – it was all over. I am really disappointed, all my team and everyone here at Rizla Suzuki have worked hard all weekend and it's such a shame for all of us that it has happened like this."

Chris Vermeulen:

"I got a better start than I did at Jerez. I was baulked a bit on the first lap and then I lost a bit of time when another rider crashed. I passed Kenny Roberts Jr and I was up with the group in front of me, but then it looked like John's bike started to leak fluid. This made the track slippery and we all dropped back. I was doing ok and was in the 1 minute 58 seconds lap-time bracket but then I had a problem of some kind and the bike slowed down – I realised how slow it had become when another rider passed me doing about 100kph more than I was! So I just headed for the pits and that was the end of my race. We've all worked hard in Qatar and it was a big disappointment."

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

"John, Chris and the whole Rizla Suzuki team deserved so much more than this. The effort that the crew and riders have put in this weekend has been incredible. Without going into detail, it has been an extremely difficult weekend. For John in particular today was very disappointing as his bike felt so much better than it had done all weekend. He made a good start and he was sure that he could catch the riders in front of him. Unfortunately, the performance of the bike tapered off to a point where it finally stopped. John was obviously visibly upset and after the weekend that he has had I don't think it would be human not to let some of that frustration out – and nothing more will be said on the subject.

"Chris' bike suffered a similar problem to John's and I know that Suzuki will be working night and day to find out what it is exactly and rectify it - we will certainly have much better days than this."

"I would like to thank Rizla's guests from the Middle East region for attending the event today and despite the result I hope they enjoyed their first taste of MotoGP. We will be working hard for Rizla and all our other sponsors to get some rapid improvements in place for Turkey in three weeks time."


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