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Rizla Suzuki "not dissatisfied" with Italian results

Rizla Suzuki 'not dissatisfied' with Italian results

Rizla Suzuki "not dissatisfied" with Italian results

John Hopkins raced his Rizla Suzuki to a top 10 finish in the Gran Premio d'Italia Alice at Mugello, with team-mate Chris Vermeulen also in the points.

Hopkins didn't make one of his customary good starts and was fighting to stay in touch with the leaders on the first few laps, but the never-say-die attitude of the Anglo-American racer saw him involved in a race-long five bike battle for seventh place. Hopkins never gave up the challenge and, despite struggling for top speed on Mugello's many fast sections, he managed to stay with the Hondas of Toni Elias, Kenny Roberts Jr and Makoto Tamada, plus the Kawasaki of Shinya Nakano. As the race drew to a close Hopkins made a last ditch overtaking manoeuvre on Nakano and passed him before the finish line to grab 10th place.

"I didn't get the best of starts and never got off the line like I normally do," said Hopkins. "It was a horrible first lap really and I wasn't where I wanted to be and I had to fight my way up. I tried to claw my way towards the front, but as it happened I got involved in the second group and basically just hung in there with them and at the end I just managed to get past Shinya for 10th. I can't say I'm ecstatic with the race but I'm certainly not too disappointed, as Mugello is a tough track for us. We needed to get through this and now we will move onto Barcelona with some high hopes as we tested well there earlier in the year. I am now looking forward to the rest of the season with a positive attitude and to getting some good results."

Chris Vermeulen was also in the points during his first ever race at Mugello. He got off to a slow start and was down in 18th place at the end of the first lap, but he showed that he was able to adapt to the race and soon moved up the field. His lap-times in the later half of the contest were comparable to the group in front of him, but he was never able to make up the deficit and brought his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R home in a creditable 14th position.

"My first time in Mugello and I really enjoyed it, there was a big crowd and a great atmosphere! It wasn't the result I would have liked, but it was a very tough race. I didn't get the best of starts and I got eaten alive into turn one. I finally got through the field and was doing similar lap times to the group in front – which I was happy with. I brought the bike home safely and got some points and next it is off to Barcelona – a track that I know – so I will certainly be looking to improve on the position we earned here."

Paul Denning, Team Manager for the team, was pleased with the results.

"Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's results in Italy don't look spectacular, but to be honest I'm not dissatisfied. Essentially we were beaten by Valentino, the two Ducatis and a group of Hondas. On a track like this where you need a lot of power to maintain a good lap time that really isn't too bad. To some extent John's start dictated his result, but I am pleased that he hung in there and managed a top 10 finish.

"Chris certainly learnt a lot from the race and I'm sure he will learn more from the test tomorrow. During the middle section of the race he maintained a very good pace. This is a difficult track to come to for the first time and get a top result.

"We are looking forward to testing a new engine specification tomorrow and hope that will take us to the next step in performance. Our improvement from 2005 is significant but it is still not enough. My personal target was a top eight finish for John and as it was he was half a second off seventh. With further improvements from Suzuki with the motor and Bridgestone with the tyres we are looking forward with optimism to Barcelona."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, GRAN PREMIO D'ITALIA ALICE

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