Rizla Suzuki is back on target to achieve 'a good solid start to the season' after Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen qualified fifth and eighth at Qatar on Saturday night.
Last year at Losail, Vermeulen and Capirossi qualified eleventh and 13th, 1.6sec and 2.1sec from pole, but were able to put the 2009 GSV-R within 0.8sec (Capirossi) and 1.2sec (Vermeulen) of Casey Stoner's pace-setting Ducati.
"It has been not too bad overall because we have improved a lot and went one second quicker than we did at the last test here,” said Capirossi, who was held up by four slower riders on his final lap. “The bike is working well and we have found a good setting. I want to thank the whole factory for all the hard work they have put into the bike for this year. I think our qualifying is not too bad, but the race will be very hard and we will need to fight a lot to get a good result!"
"It has been a much better day for us today,” added Vermeulen. “We really got the tyres sorted out today and we know what we are going to be running tomorrow. We will certainly be using the harder ones - both front and rear. Starting from the third row is a lot better than it was last year and I'll try and get a good start and stay with the front group and see what happens at the end of 22-laps!"
"We have made the steps forward from yesterday that we hoped we would,” declared team manager Paul Denning. “Both the guys are able to ride with more aggression and confidence. Clearly the front row was in sight for Loris, but it is difficult to make it round the last corner with four bikes in front of you! Nonetheless, he is focussed on the race tomorrow and the middle of the second row isn't a bad place to start.
"Chris has improved massively from yesterday evening, and but for a couple of mistakes on his last lap, he could easily have been on the second row alongside Loris. As it is we have seen time-after-time that he races better than he qualifies. We will go into the race tomorrow night to achieve our target of a good solid start to the season for both riders."
Capirossi and Vermeulen finished eighth and 17th in last year's race.