Rizla Suzuki MotoGP travels back to Europe for the second round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship this week, looking to expand upon a strong showing in Qatar.
Both John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen have been encouraged by their first round performances. Hopkins finished fourth in Doha, despite being below-strength due to injuries sustained at the same circuit in testing last month. Suzuki's Anglo-American star is determined to carry the momentum to Spain and ride to the maximum of his and the GSV-R's ability.
Team-mate Vermeulen finished a creditable seventh in Qatar and believes his route to success lies in getting a better qualifying position. He qualified in 13th for the first round and fought his way through the field. Vermeulen has had little chance to test Bridgestone's qualifying tyres and was planning on a thorough evaluation at last week's Qatar test - after the race - but strong winds at Losail meant this was not possible.
Jerez is the most visited Grand Prix on the calendar, housing nearly a quarter-of-a-million people at trackside throughout the three days last year. The 4.423km circuit is a great racing circuit due to its undulating layout, hard-braking corners and endless camber changes. This is a track that should suit the new 800cc bikes with their higher cornering speed and a fast exciting race should be provided for the massive crowds to enjoy.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will also be joined at Jerez by Team Test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi. He is making not only his race debut at the Jerez circuit, but also his first European MotoGP appearance. He tested at Jerez with the team last month and will be looking to get a good result in his first wild-card race of the season.
All three Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers will take to the track on Friday for two free practice sessions. This is followed by a further free practice session on Saturday morning and then the hour-long qualifying session to determine grid positions for Sunday 27-lap race, which gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
"I am ready for this race! I am hoping to be fully fit, unlike Qatar, and to give it all I've got. We tested here a couple of times and I know that I have the pace to run at the front. Jerez has a lot of heavy braking but my hand is ok now, and I've been training really hard in Miami to make sure that I'm 100% when the lights change to 'go' on raceday!"
"I was not that pleased to finish seventh in Qatar, but from where I started on the grid it was a good result. I realise that I have to get a better place to start from so that I can challenge with the front guys. The new tyre rule might have had something to do with the qualifying tyres I chose, but this week I will be sure to get what I want and make the most of them. I like the Jerez circuit and know that I can perform well on race tyres there so I am really looking forward to getting out there and going for it!"
"I am very happy to have the chance to race at Jerez. I did my first GP in Japan last year, but this will be something very different to that. I want to perform well and make sure that I can get a good result."