Team Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Kenny Roberts Jr will start tomorrow's French GP from the third and fifth rows of the grid, after persistent rain at the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans meant that yesterday's dry-weather times remained unbeaten.

Unfortunately for Hopkins, who turned 20 two days ago, the slippery conditions were to catch him out twice today, and he fell first in morning free practice - injuring his right shoulder, then again in the afternoon, exacerbating the injury.

"I'm a bit sore, and I'm heading off for an X-ray now," said John at the end of the hour long session. "This morning I was really fighting for grip, and on a real slippery section - the chicane at the end of the back straight - I crashed. I didn't think I'd done anything different, but the bike spat me off the high side, and I landed right on my shoulder.

"I was feeling pretty painful in the afternoon, but I went out to try some adjustments to see if we could get some more grip. I was trying a lot of different things. Then as I shut off the gas to go into the corner after the same chicane, the rear suddenly went out from under me. I was fighting to save it, and I think I made the shoulder injury worse," added Hopkins.

Experineced team-mate Roberts also complained of a shortage of traction from the all-new 2003 Suzuki GSV-R GP machine and despite being noted for his wet-weather prowess, was not even in the top ten.

"In the wet, the problems are the same as in the dry, except multiplied," said the straight talking Roberts. "We already use more traction to go fast with new tyres in the dry than other people require. In the wet, it's much worse. We require more grip to do a dry lap time than most of the other bikes on the grid, therefore when it is wet we are going to suffer even more. We're a long way off the pace, and that kind of gives you a good idea of our difficulties."

Suzuki have brought a full complement of factory racing staff to Le Mans to try and solve the problems, including engine designer Kunio Arase, while on Monday Suzuki have scheduled more tests to follow up three days in Spain last week.

"We are having lots of problems at the moment, but practically everyone from the factory who could be here is here, so we have high hopes of finding a direction for the future," declared Team Manager Garry Taylor. "In a way, it's good that so many designers and engineers are here to share the experience and frustration. Now we need to make something positive out of it."