Chris Vermeulen may have taken his first MotoGP podium at a wet Phillip Island in 2006, but the local star had qualified just 16th in the dry and - without the intervention of the weather - the Australian circuit has taunted Suzuki's GSV-R motorcycle ever since the start of the four-stroke era.

These are the results for the highest finishing Suzuki rider at Phillip Island since the start of the MotoGP class:

2002 - 9th (Roberts Jr)
2003 - 9th (Roberts Jr)
2004 - 15th (Hopkins)
2005 - 10th (Hopkins)
2006 - 2nd (Vermeulen)
2007 - 7th (Hopkins)

But despite the past problems suffered by Suzuki around the high-speed circuit, Vermeulen believes he has a chance to run at the front whatever the weather this weekend.

"I'm really looking forward to my home grand prix; the support of the Aussie crowd is going to be great. In the last couple of years we haven't been particularly fast there, but we've come away with some good results," he said. "We've tested at Phillip Island a lot in the last couple of years and have definitely made improvements with the Suzuki GSV-R around there.

"With the improvements we've made this year and the developments on the chassis, plus the way we have moved forward with the Bridgestone tyres, I really think we will have a good chance there to challenge towards the front and I would really love to be on the podium again in front of my home crowd," he admitted.

Team-mate Loris Capirossi will be making his southern hemisphere race-debut for Rizla Suzuki at the 4.448km circuit, but the Italian has enjoyed past success on the Island including a second place last year for Ducati.

"I really love the track on the Island. For sure it has been a good track for me and I've had some good results there," he declared. "Maybe the weather is still a bit strange at this time of year because it is still really cold, but we hope that we get there and the bike works well and we can get a good result and continue with the progression of the GSV-R."