Despite high hopes that this year's Australian Grand Prix would be more forgiving to the latest version of the GSV-R, after improved long-corner performance last time out at Estoril, the fast Phillip Island track has once again proven to be Suzuki's nemesis.
Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen qualified just 13th and 15th out of the 16 riders present in Saturday's qualifying session, continuing a trend of miserable dry weather performances down under.
"Phillip Island has been our nemesis over the last few years and I am now starting to dislike the place as much as our bike obviously does!” admitted team manager Paul Denning. “There is no hiding the fact that the qualifying result is a disaster, but it's also true that we have taken a decent step compared to 2008 and the difference in our lap-time to pole position [1.5sec] and the second row [0.613sec] shows that. Unfortunately lap-times count for nothing and the positions are not where they should be.”
“We struggled on the left corners because we were spinning a lot and we need to find a good solution to give us better traction,” explained Capirossi. “We have improved the feeling from the front, but it is not enough because we need better traction to go faster. It is bad to be starting so far back, but for sure I won't finish in the same place in the race!"
“We're really struggling with rear grip on the left-hand-side and the performance of the tyre seems to drop off after only a few laps,” confirmed Vermeulen, who was 1.997sec from pole. “We went over a second quicker than yesterday, but it's still not where we need to be. We need to find some positives from today and give it 100% tomorrow."
The GSV-R's best Phillip Island finish of second, its only top six result, came at the hands of Vermeulen in the wet 2006 event - but the local star had qualified just 16th in the dry.
These are the results for the highest finishing Suzuki rider at Phillip Island since 2002:
2002 - 9th (Roberts Jr)
2003 - 9th (Roberts Jr)
2004 - 15th (Hopkins)
2005 - 10th (Hopkins)
2006 - 2nd (Vermeulen)
2007 - 7th (Hopkins)
2008 - 10th (Capirossi)