By almost any measure, 2008 has been a disappointing season for Rizla Suzuki, which has lost significant ground in the MotoGP riders', teams' and constructors' championships relative to last year.
A strong performance during the first season of 800cc racing saw Suzuki collect eight podiums, 241 constructors' points (fourth) and 368 teams' points (third) in 2007 - including one race win for Chris Vermeulen and fourth in the championship for John Hopkins
But heading into this weekend's Valencia season finale, the 2008 GSV-R has been capable of only three podiums, 174 constructors' points (fourth) and 238 teams' points (fourth). Vermeulen is the leading Suzuki rider with in eighth in the world championship, although sixth place is still mathematically possible.
Whilst Suzuki's decline isn't quite as bad as Kawasaki's - which has dropped from one podium, 144 constructors' points (fifth) and 176 teams' points (seventh) last year to zero podiums, 86 constructors' points (fifth) and 110 teams' points (ninth) this year - it's still been a bitterly disappointing season and a strong result this weekend would be a welcome boost as attention turns to Suzuki's 2009 machine.
"I think Valencia will be good for us because it is not really a quick track and our bike is good for handling and braking - so we hope to go really well!" said Loris Capirossi, currently tenth but with a mathematical chance of seventh in the final 2008 standings.
"We understand that the weather can sometimes be very difficult there because it can be quite cold, but I believe we can go really fast in Valencia. It is the last race and is a good opportunity to start working on how we want to continue next year," he added.
Vermeulen finished sixth at Valencia in 2007 – directly behind Capirossi - and will be looking to improve on that position as the curtain falls on his third full season in MotoGP.
"Valencia is a great circuit and it suits our bike well with it not having very long straights," confirmed Chris. "The Suzuki works well on the tight and twisty type of circuit and last year we were very quick there and I am really looking forward to going back. Hopefully we can stand on the podium one more time this year, because that is the plan and I really think it is possible!"