Vermeulen hails Suzuki's improvement
Chris Vermeulen declared his Suzuki much improved after taking fourth place in Friday practice at Motegi, although his teammate Loris Capirossi was unable to perfect his set-up in the short session.
Suzuki had been optimistic of a big step forward in 2008 having been quick throughout the winter, and Vermeuelen reckoned his pace at a track where he could only qualify 12th last year bodes very well.
"We've had quite a good start to the weekend here at Motegi," he said. "It has not been a track I have gone well at in my last three years with Suzuki, but it has been a big improvement today.
"We have taken a big step forward with the bike in certain areas - especially accelerating off the corners. There are a lot of those on to long straights here and it all seems to be working well for us."
He is also confident that the Suzuki will be kind on its tires if Sunday's race is dry.
"Today we used the same set of tires for the whole session," said Vermeulen. "They worked pretty well, but did drop off a bit towards the end of the session, but if it is similar conditions on race day we know what we will be using."
Capirossi was disappointed with sixth, having failed to finalize his setup in the single 45-minute practice that has replaced 2008's pair of one-hour Friday sessions.
"The problem we are finding is that this is the only practice we have on Friday now and we don't have another one to keep working on the bike," he said.
"We need more time to get the bike just right. It is working quite well but we still have a bit of work to do on the setting.
"The conditions didn't help today because it was very cold and we couldn't get the tires up to temperature. We used one set of tyres for the whole session and the left side still looks like new."