Chris Vermeulen, who scored his and Suzuki's only victory of the four-stroke MotoGP era in the wet at Le Mans in 2007, fuelled his 2009 hopes with a close fourth fastest time in Friday practice.

The Australian lapped just 0.165sec behind fastest man Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) when rain arrived shortly after the halfway point of the newly extended hour-long session.

"I really enjoy it here, I've had success before and I'd love to repeat that this year," said Vermeulen. "For a first session we've done pretty well and the bike seemed to be good straight out of the box. We've tried a few new things from the Factory on the electronics side and these seem to be working well.

"We want to try to get the most out of the tyres in all conditions so we experimented a bit with chassis and suspension set-up, but unfortunately due to the weather we didn't get the full hour to try everything. We just hope that tomorrow is dry so we can continue where we left off today," he added.

Team-mate Loris Capirossi was ninth fastest and just over a second from countryman Dovizioso.

"It has not been too bad today considering the conditions, but luckily I did get the opportunity to test two completely different settings on the bike," he said. "The first one was not perfect but the second one was definitely a lot better. I came in to make a couple more modifications that I'm sure would have helped, but the rain came and we couldn't test everything that we wanted to. I now hope it either stays dry tomorrow and race-day or it rains on both, because a mix of the two will be no good at all."

"The idea of reverting to an hour of practice didn't work out today as the weather managed to restrict us to even fewer laps than we could do in a decent 45-minute session!" admitted team manager Paul Denning.

"However, the laps that both guys did manage to complete were quite positive in terms of information and feeling on the bike. Chris's start point is a little bit stronger than Loris's, but there is a particular problem that the guys know how to fix for Loris tomorrow," he revealed.

Suzuki's best finish so far this season is sixth by Capirossi last time out at Jerez.

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