Capirossi third in rally race

MotoGP racer reaches podium in Swift Sport Cup

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Nov. 11, 2008
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Loris Capirossi made a successful splash in rally car racing with a third place finish in the Swift Sport Cup, Nov. 8.

Driving a Suzuki Swift with his familiar number 65, Capirossi pushed through the muddy, rain-soaked forests and military training grounds around Aldershot, England and emerged with a third place finish in the Swift Sport Cup and ninth overall in the two-wheel drive section of the Tempest Rally.

Capirossi and his co-driver Craig Thorley held a steady pace in the early stages as the MotoGP rider gained confidence behind the wheel of the Swift. As the race continued, Capirossi made his way through the ranks and reached the race leaders. The Bologna, Italy native continued to press but could not catch eventual race winners Mark Gamble and Steve Link or runner-up finishers Niki Bjerg and Arly Larsen. Capirossi finished just 14 seconds short of the winners.

Loris Capirossi (front) and co-driver Craig Thorley stand next to their number 65 car while it's still clean.“It has been a great day and it was really fun to do the rally. I took my time in the early stages as I got used to driving on the loose surfaces and in the forests, it was certainly very different from the wide-open tracks that I am used to in MotoGP” says Capirossi.

“As I got more confident with the car my times improved and I was able to go a lot quicker and I think if we could have done a couple more stages I might have caught the leader, but I am really pleased with third in my first rally.”

Capirossi also won bragging rights over his boss, Rizla Suzuki team manager Paul Denning who crashed out of the race at the fourth stage. Denning and co-driver Jemma Bellingham made a mistake at the end of a fast straight and wound up in a ditch. They were unable to get their car back on the road within the designated time limit and were disqualified. Denning was allowed to take part in the four afternoon stages.

“It was a shame that Paul crashed out, because I think our times were very close and it would have been good to have had that extra bit of competition with him, but I think I would have beaten him anyway,” says Capirossi.

Denning took Capirossi’s ribbing in good stride.

Loris Capirossi made quite a splash by reaching the podium in the Swift Sport Cup.“With Loris, I suppose it was slightly inevitable that one of us was going to crash trying to beat the other, and I think it was even more inevitable that it was going to be me” says Denning. “It was quite surprising – considering our lack of experience – that we were able to run so competitively and I think this is a testament to the experience of Jemma and Craig – our co-drivers – that certainly helped us all day long. Loris and I were very close to each other early on but I made a mistake and slid off the road so I wasn’t able to complete the whole rally – which was a great shame - but thanks to Ian Phillipson of the Swift Sport Cup and the rally organizers I was able to get back out for the afternoon stages and restore a bit of pride, so that made things a bit better.”

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