A confident Chris Vermeulen will line up in this weekend’s Australian Grand prix at Phillip Island armed with a contract extension and a new chassis.
The Queenslander finished second there two years ago in a chaotic wet race and with showers forecast for Sunday he could again upstage the stars, including new world champion Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, the 2007 titleholder.
“Result-wise, ultimately I want to stand on the podium down there again,” Vermeulen said on Tuesday.
“We were on there in 2006 in weather conditions that were up and down and difficult for everyone.
“Last year we struggled a lot in the dry conditions but finished eighth in the race, we made big progress on the bike coming to Sunday and we’ve tested there a lot the last year or so.”
Vermeulen said he expected his bike to be more competitive this weekend following developmental work mid-season.
“We got a new chassis after the Brno (Czech Republic) Grand Prix and it seems to be helping with rear grip for the bike which is an area we struggled with.
“Phillip Island seems to exaggerate that with its long, fast corners and being able to apply the throttle.
“The new chassis has helped at other circuits – it’s not the complete answer but definitely we’ve taken a step forward so hopefully it’s going to work at Phillip Island.”
Vermeulen also does not expect to be hampered by a frustrating brake problem which severely hampered him at the Japanese GP last weekend.
“I had some issues from the beginning of the race with stopping performance – when I stopped the race I virtually had no brakes left,” Vermeulen said.
“It was something that malfunctioned in the system I guess and the brake company have taken that back to analyse now.
“The thing with Japan is it’s the hardest circuit that we go to on brakes and we use much bigger braking discs and bigger power there so what we use at Phillip Island is very different.
“The temperature gets very high in Japan and at Phillip Island we have the opposite problem where we’re trying to get heat into the brakes.
“Normally it’s quite cool down there and high speed everywhere so it’s not hard braking,” he said. “I’m not worried about the brakes for Phillip Island.”
Vermeulen’s best results have come in the wet but he says he prefers to race in the dry.
“It’s the thing when you get to a race weekend and if things aren’t working well in the dry then you hope it’s going to be wet so you might have a chance.
“But if things are going well in the dry I’d love it to stay dry and be strong – racing in the dry is a lot more fun and less risky,” he said.