Rizla Suzuki scored its best combined result of the season so far at Le Mans on Sunday, but sixth and eighth places for Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi wasn't a course for much celebration.
In wet conditions similar to those with which Vermeulen took his and Suzuki's only win of the four-stroke era, at the French Grand Prix in 2007, the Australian was unable to replicate his usual rain magic.
Then, when the track dried out, prompting bike swaps, rear traction issues that had bothered the team all weekend once again became a performance limiting factor in the cool conditions.
"We started on wets and we hadn't done any wet testing so it was really tough for the engineers to get the bike set up for the conditions,” explained Vermeulen. “They did a really good job and the bike felt reasonable, but if it had been a practice session we would certainly have come in to make changes.
“When the track started to dry out I saw Rossi crash and thought that it wasn't dry enough for slicks yet, so I stayed out a bit longer - probably a couple of laps too long - and it made things a bit difficult towards the end. We finished sixth and that is our best result so far this season and it gives us some good points. Now we are looking to improve on that in Mugello."
Capirossi took the brave step of coming in to change to dry tyres moments after first-to-stop Rossi, and the gamble nearly cost him dearly as twice he lost grip on wet patches and ran off the track
"We changed to a slick tyre really early on in the race and it was still a bit too wet to do that,” he confirmed. “It wasn't really a mistake, more a gamble that didn't work, as I made a couple of mistakes on the damp patches and ran off. I tried to keep my rhythm, but I found I had the same problem as yesterday that when the track dried out I just didn't have enough grip.”
"Our wet pace wasn't too bad but we have struggled with rear grip in cold and changeable conditions so far this season - which is something we have to improve, not Bridgestone - and today was no different,” stated team manager Paul Denning. “Our competitors seem to be able to get more traction than us and that told in the final result.
“Both Chris and Loris gave their maximum as always, and we've scored some reasonable points. Now we have to look forward to Loris's home race in Mugello in two-week's time and hopefully further updates to increase our performance in Barcelona soon after that."
Those 'further updates' are thought to include power-enhancing engine developments, which Vermeulen and Capirossi have been asking for since winter testing.