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GP Week : Issue 3
13 M oto GP news >> SUZUKI rider Chris Vermeulen is looking to tests after the Spanish and the following Portuguese GPs, after admitting that the Japanese factory is “playing catch-up” after both factory team riders slumped in the results at the opening round. The other two-man team, Kawasaki, was also left trailing. Vermeulen’s guns were spiked when he had tyre trouble from the start, and was forced to pit, but he had qualified out of the top ten, and was already on the back foot. New signing Capirossi had to ride very hard to secure eighth from satellite Honda rider Randy de Puniet, the pair almost 20 seconds adrift of seventh. “We have a lot of work to do,” said Suzuki’s Vermeulen, above. “We need to get out there and start straight away. We made some important developments there at the tests last month, so we need to continue where we left off.”. The main target is to recapture the bike’s good balance, and improve mid- corner and exit traction. Kawasaki’s problems were related to both machines and riders. John Hopkins started strongly, but dropped to 12th, still troubled by a pre- season testing groin injury. This hampered his ability to compensate for front-wheel slides. Team-mate Anthony West, in his first full season, is suffering an inexplicable crisis of confidence. Kawasaki had shelved their new ‘Screamer’ engine, which appeared in tests at Malaysia, to concentrate on the problems of the ‘Long Bang’ engine they used last year. The Screamer reverts from the off-beat firing intervals popularised by Rossi’s Yamaha to conventional evenly-spaced firing for the in-line four- cylinder engine. Small factory teams in ‘catch-up’ mode IS Michael Schumacher about to switch to a second racing career on two wheels? The seven-time F1 champion astonished onlookers with fast lap times at post-season press tests at Valencia last year. Last weekend he was a surprise entry at a round of the Pro-Am Racing For Fun series in Hungary, and finished on the rostrum. Schumi started from the back of the grid, and finished third behind Austrian Superbike racers Martin Bauer and Andy Meklau, a former professional. The 39-year-old novice did not, however, attend the rostrum ceremony at the Pannoniaring, close to the Austrian border. A star is born? class, neither of whom make such a machine. There is also likely to be stiff opposition from World Superbikes, currently running the 600cc Supersport World Championship – based on the same machines – as their junior class. For more, see ‘Dilemma – how to replace the 250s’ – page 38