Suzuki Motor Corporation has announced that Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen have both agreed terms to continue riding for the Japanese company's MotoGP squad for a further season.

"We are of course pleased to have finalised the rider agreements for 2009 and to move forward with Loris and Chris," said team manager Paul Denning.

Capirossi, a 250 and double 125cc world champion, joined Suzuki from Ducati at the end of last season. The 35-year-old Italian, who recently set a new record of 277 grand prix starts, has won nine 500cc/MotoGP races - the first in 1996 and most recent in 2007.

After being forced to miss both Donington Park and Assen due to a hand injury, Capirossi took his first Suzuki MotoGP podium in last month's Czech Republic Grand Prix.

"I am delighted to be staying with Suzuki for another season," said Capirossi, who has also ridden for Honda, Yamaha, Aprilia and Ducati since his 125GP debut in 1990. "I have really enjoyed my short time here and know we are making progress and can be on top again. The management has shown faith in me - even though I have not been at my best due to my injuries - and now I must start to re-pay them for their belief in me and to committing to me a further season."

Capirossi said that he intends to finish his grand prix career with Suzuki, but not before scoring further poles, podiums and race wins.

"I have enjoyed working with Paul [Denning] and my whole crew has been fantastic all season, whatever I have asked for they have delivered and they are probably the hardest working guys in the paddock. I still have unfinished business in MotoGP and on the Suzuki, I still have podiums, pole positions and race wins in me and I believe that I can achieve that with this team. I want to finish my career with Suzuki and I want to do that in style!" he declared.

"Loris's experience, knowledge and determination are a valuable asset to any team, but on top of that you get his incredible and infectious passion for racing - plus he's a really nice guy as well!" said Denning.

"He settled in to the team very quickly and now it feels like he has been with us for a long time, not less than a year! He still has a great desire to be the best and Suzuki will be doing all it can over the forthcoming months and throughout 2009 to help him achieve that goal. His input in the development of the GSV-R has been a big factor this year and I am sure this contribution will help both Loris and Chris to see Suzuki fighting with the best riders in the 2009 World Championship," Denning added.

Whilst Capirossi's signature had been long predicted, Vermeulen had been pursued by the likes of Honda Gresini and the Ducati Xerox World Superbike team.

After two stand-in rides for Camel Honda during 2005, when he also finished second in the World Superbike Championship, Vermeulen made his full time MotoGP debut with Suzuki the following season.

The 26-year-old Australian achieved his first pole-position in Turkey that year and followed up with a debut podium at his home grand prix in Australia later that same season.

Vermeulen then created history for Suzuki by becoming the first winner for the famous Japanese marque in the four-stroke era, when he raced to a wet-weather victory at Le Mans in France in 2007 - a season that also saw him take three further podiums, one pole-position and two front-row starts.

So far in 2008 Vermeulen has had back-to-back podiums in Germany and America and currently sits sixth in the riders' championship.

"I'm extremely happy to be staying with the Suzuki team, it is a factory and squad that I know well and respect enormously," said Chris. "Over the last three years there has been big progress with both the machine and with my level as a rider. Suzuki was my entry into grand prix racing, I have been here for three years and won a GP - and been on podium many times - so I am really pleased to be continuing this relationship.

"I had offers from other teams, but I always felt that I wanted to stay with Suzuki if we could get the terms agreed so that everyone was happy," he explained. "Luckily we were able to do that, so now I can get on with trying to win more races and help Suzuki get to a world championship challenging level."

"Chris has improved as the Suzuki GSV-R has improved, and has now become an integral part of the development process of the bike," stated Denning. "He has been with the team for three years and has become Suzuki's most successful four-stroke racer yet, as well as being an ultra-professional sportsman. I don't think we have seen Chris's true potential yet - the whole factory and the team are convinced the he can go on to bigger and better things with Suzuki, and we are delighted to have him with us again."

The re-signing of Capirossi and Vermeulen confirms that there is no room for AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies, who is predicted to sign for JiR Honda. An announcement on the Texan's future is expected at next weekend's Indianapolis Grand Prix, when he will make his third appearance of the season for Rizla Suzuki.

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment