Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is on its way to Jerez in Spain for the first European Grand Prix of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, looking to put the tough opening round in Qatar firmly behind it.
Loris Capirossi fought to a well-earned eighth place at Losail earlier this month, whilst team-mate Chris Vermeulen was forced to pit and finished just outside the points. The two Rizla Suzuki racers will be planning to try to emulate Capirossi’s performance at the Spanish GP in 2006, where the experienced Italian won the race after starting from pole position.
Jerez is the first of three rounds held in Spain during the championship, but the only one that carries the name “Spanish Grand Prix”. The huge, passionate crowd at trackside makes this race one of the events of the year and is regarded by many as the ‘real’ start to the season. Nearly a quarter-of-a-million fans crammed around the 4.4km circuit over the event’s three days last year, making the Jerez GP one of the highest attended of the season, and a similar – if not larger – crowd can be expected this year. The Jerez track is one of the best spectator circuits on the calendar due to its numerous grandstands providing near perfect viewing facilities over its undulating layout, so fans get the chance to see the riders go through a series of hard-braking corners, endless camber changes and high-speed straights.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday 28th March for two hour-long practice sessions, followed by another practice the following morning. The all-important qualifying session takes place on Saturday afternoon to decide grid positions for Sunday’s 27-lap race that gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“Qatar wasn’t the best result for us, but we did learn some good lessons for the forthcoming races. The Jerez test earlier in the year wasn’t the best conditions so we don’t have a lot of direction from the data we collected then. We need to be fighting for top positions and podiums - I have complete faith in Suzuki and the whole project that those results and performances will come soon. The season is just beginning and I hope we can step up to a good level at Jerez next weekend!”
“We need to get out there and start work straight away, after the disappointment of Qatar we are playing catch-up a bit! I enjoy the Jerez circuit and we made some important developments towards the end of the test there last month, so we need to continue from where we left off. Jerez with its huge crowd and amazing atmosphere feels like the real start of the season and I will certainly be going for it!”