A complete change in weather at Sepang produced a similarly seismic shift in race day fortunes for Rizla Suzuki riders Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi.

Vermeulen had qualified just 14th in the dry, but the renowned wet weather ace - who won his and Suzuki's only four-stroke MotoGP race in the rain at Le Mans in 2007 - was able to climb up the order to sixth in the slippery conditions.

"I got a good start, but in turn one there was a lot going on and I got pushed around a little bit, but I came out of it ok and was able to get my head down straight away," said the Australian, who now has just one more race with the team.

"The bike worked well up until the last few laps - when the track started to dry out - and then it was very difficult through the corners, but I'm sure it wasn't easy for anyone out there.

"I think we had the speed for a top five today and my guys did a great job with the motorbike to be able to give me something competitive today when we hadn't done any wet testing here at all."

A devastated Capirossi went in the other direction, slipping from fifth on the grid - fourth after Jorge Lorenzo's penalty - to just ninth at the chequered flag.

"I don't really have a lot to say - I am just so disappointed," confessed the Italian. "The team did such a good job this weekend and we thought we would have a good race, especially after this morning's warm-up was good as well, but then for the race it rained really hard.

"The set-up of the bike for the wet was pretty good but I struggled a lot for the first ten laps because I couldn't get any feeling from the left of the tyres. I dropped down to 13th and I then managed to overtake three or four riders and finish ninth.

"The result was not really good for this track and we weren't lucky with the conditions, but sometimes things happen like that," he shrugged.

"The drastic change in conditions was a disappointment, especially for Loris considering the outright speed he had shown this weekend," confirmed team manager Paul Denning. "Loris is devastated by the result, but he kept fighting right to the end.

"Chris rode a really strong race and had the speed to challenge for fifth if we'd qualified a bit better or had a better feeling earlier in the race.

"The season has not been what we'd hoped, but there is a very tight fight for seventh in the championship that both of our guys are in with a chance of and we'll be doing our best to get one of them there in two weeks' time in Valencia," Denning concluded.

Capirossi will head for the final round tied for seventh with Hayate's Marco Melandri, with Vermeulen just three points behind - and equal on points with both Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias.