Loris Capirossi professed himself satisfied at the end of the weekend in Brno after converting ninth spot on the starting grid to equal his best result of the season to-date and come within a whisker of his first podium finish of the 2009 MotoGP campaign at the chequered flag – but there was less joy for off-colour team-mate Chris Vermeulen.
Capirossi is a former winner of the Czech Republic Grand Prix, and has an excellent record in the event having finished up on the rostrum in the race on four previous occasions, most recently last year. After qualifying on the third row, the experienced Italian made the most of a fantastic opening lap that elevated him three spots to sixth, and from thereon in battled energetically with Toni Elias and Andrea Dovizioso race-long.
The trio's tussle became one for the podium when Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the lead, but despite a number of attempts to find a way by right up to the last lap, Capirossi ultimately crossed the line fifth aboard his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R – an outcome with which he revealed he was more than pleased.
“Overall it was a good day for us,” summarised the 36-year-old, eighth tenths of a second shy of Elias in third in the final reckoning. “We were able to fight the whole weekend and were nearly rewarded with a podium. We had a big problem with chatter and we managed to resolve that for the race. We made the right choice of tyre, but a couple of times I nearly lost the front which meant I didn't quite have the right feeling and that caused me to lose a bit of time.
“I managed to clean off the tyre by riding a bit less aggressively, and then I was able to push again right 'til the end of the race. I lost out a bit to the other guys in front of me on acceleration, and it was then difficult to overtake on the brakes because I was never quite close enough – even though I was faster through the corners.
“I really want to say a huge 'thank you' to the whole team, because their effort this weekend was fantastic. I also want to thank Suzuki for giving us the chance to come back with a better package; this is a really good thing and will help us for the rest of the season.”
In front of a crowd of 138,000 fans and in baking temperatures, team-mate Vermeulen aboard the sister machine was not quite so fortunate, finding himself baulked on the first lap and consequently dropping four places down the order to 15th. The Australian battled back past a couple of rivals and benefitted from the coming-together between Mika Kallio and Marco Melandri ahead of him to recover to his starting position of 11th at the close.
“I got quite a good start,” reported the Brisbane native, “but in turn one I got blocked and was then passed by a few people – that's what you get I suppose when you start from the fourth row of the grid! I then got pushed very wide on the first lap and lost a few more places. Everybody was going very quickly, and it took me quite a few laps to get past the guys in front that I had more speed than, and by then the main pack was well away in front.
“I am a bit disappointed with my own performance – I couldn't get down to the lap-times I expected to do. I kept pushing till the end and gave it 100 per cent and caught up to [Randy] de Puniet and [James] Toseland near the end, but there were not enough laps left to get past. We got some points, but it wasn't a great weekend again for us. We have made a significant step with the bike, though, and I am looking forward to getting to some good tracks for me and Suzuki.”