Chris Vermeulen confident in 2009 factory Suzuki

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Chris Vermeulen reckons Suzuki’s positive start to the 2009 testing campaign has already proven that the new factory GSV-R can be a podium challenger from the first race of the season.

Suzuki provided the first major shock of 2009 earlier this month when Italian veteran Loris Capirossi set the third best time in the opening winter test session in Sepang, Malaysia.

And Aussie Vermeulen, who remains the only rider to win a four-stroke MotoGP race for Suzuki, was sixth quickest in the Far East.

The new GSV-R features a revised V4 motor, new chassis and bodywork, new seat and fuel tank and improved traction control.

The positive start to 2009 has already boosted Vermeulen’s confidence about his prospects for the forthcoming season, which kicks off in Qatar on April 12.

“We are in a reasonable position to start the season right now.

"I don’t think we have the bike now to go and win every race but we have a bike that can be competitive to challenge for podiums straight out of the box and that is a huge step, so I’m hoping we continue in that way and come the first race we are in that position,“ said Vermeulen, who is back on track on March 1 for the second test of the pre-season in Qatar.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt