Vermeulen targets qualifying improvement

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Chris Vermeulen has admitted he must drastically improve on his qualifying performances to have any hope of adding to his one MotoGP podium finish in 2007.

The factory Suzuki rider has struggled so far to get into a starting position where he is capable of mounting a serious challenge in races. And the Aussie told MCN he must produce a better qualifying display when the MotoGP world championship resumes in Istanbul on April 22, 2007.

Last year’s Turkish GP saw Vermeulen make his premier class breakthrough when he claimed a brilliant pole position in only his third race for the Rizla Suzuki squad.

And the former World Superbike runner-up said: “For me the biggest thing is trying to get to the front of the grid and getting a good start to get away with the front guys. Both races have been good but I’ve just qualified terribly.

“Not that I’ve been a lot of time off the front. I was nine-tenths off pole in Jerez but I was 14th and on the fifth row of the grid.

So far in 2007 he has failed to make the top 10 on the grid in Qatar and Jerez, though he has fought back in the opening two races to finish seventh and ninth.

Vermeulen was only 13th on the grid in Qatar and one place lower in Jerez.

The 24-year-old said: “I got a good start in Jerez but (Loris) Capirossi passed me and I was in 15th for a lot of the race because he was so hard to pass.

“I ended up getting back to ninth but I felt if I could have started from the front I perhaps could have run with the second group with (Carlos) Checa and (Nicky) Hayden.

“My lap times were no different to guys running in the top six  but I’m just starting too far back and it shows how much time you can lose on the first two laps. I lost ground early and that was a problem.

And he added: “I didn’t expect to come out and win but I didn’t expect to be qualifying so far back and struggling to get into the top ten. But then saying that there are nine world champions in MotoGP so it’s never easy, and was never going to be.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt