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Vermeulen third, Suzuki claims progress.

Chris Vermeulen and Rizla Suzuki insisted that it wasn't just the wet weather which put the Australian third fastest in second free practice for his home grand prix.

Suzuki has struggled for dry pace at Phillip Island ever since the start of the four-stroke era, and Vermeulen was only 14th fastest in Friday's first free practice.

However, the Australian rose steadily upwards during a soaking wet second session, which he eventually finished in third position - 1.004secs behind Nicky Hayden and 0.249secs from Andrea Dovizioso.

"It's been a positive first day at Phillip Island and a lot better than we have had in the last few years," said Chris. "The whole team and factory have worked really hard since the test here early in the year and - like everybody knows - we've had a new chassis in the lead up to this grand prix and this has all definitely helped the bike in all conditions.

"This morning we didn't do our best lap-time but we stuck with one set of tyres - which were not the stickiest we had in our allocation - and worked on getting the best set-up we could. In the rain this afternoon we worked on pretty much the same thing and I think we have a very good base set-up that will also help us to improve tomorrow."

"Chris went very well in the wet this afternoon which was very good to see, but the most important result of today is that we can judge that we have taken a step forward with the GSV-R at Phillip Island in terms of chassis geometry and power delivery, both of which are helping to make a more consistent lap-time," insisted team manager Paul Denning.

Team-mate Loris Capirossi led the GSV-R challenge with ninth in FP1, but was only 16th in the wet.

"This morning was not too bad for us, we made a few changes and we looked to be moving on with the set-up of the bike for those conditions," said the Italian. "This afternoon it was really cold and when it is like that it is really difficult to get the tyres warm and get the grip we are looking for. We tried to modify a few things but we never really found the right solution. We have some ideas to go much softer with the setting and then put more weight on the tyre. I am not that happy when conditions are like this, it looks like being cold again tomorrow but not raining – I hope that is the case!"

"In the dry Loris was only 0.2 seconds away from third place and was able to lap very close to his best time on tyres which were at the end of quite a long run," added Denning.

"Obviously for both conditions we've still got a heap of work to do to close up to the front guys, and we know there is a lot more work to do with the bike to take it to where Suzuki feel that it can be, but at the same time the direction is correct and that gives us confidence for the rest of the weekend and for the future potential."


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