Apr 5, 2002
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Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Loris Capirossi on a Honda NSR500 two-stroke was faster than Valentino Rossi on a Honda RC211V four-stroke in the first round of MotoGP qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit Friday.<BR><BR>American Young Gun John Hopkins was 16th fastest on a Yamaha YZR500 in his MotoGP debut.<BR><BR>Times follow:<BR><BR>1. Loris Capirossi, Honda NSR500, 2:05.052<BR><BR>2. Valentino Rossi, Honda RC211V, 2:05.096<BR><BR>3. Tohru Ukawa, Honda RC211V, 2:05.561<BR><BR>4. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki GSV-R, 2:05.630<BR><BR>5. Shinichi Itoh, Honda RC211V, 2:05.650<BR><BR>6. Carlos Checa, Yamaha YZR-M1, 2:05.846<BR><BR>7. Daijiro Katoh, Honda NSR500, 2:05.858<BR><BR>8. Max Biaggi, Yamaha YZR-M1, 2:05.910<BR><BR>9. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha YZR500, 2:06.253<BR><BR>10. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha YZR500, 2:06.339<BR><BR>11. Akira Ryo, Suzuki GSV-R, 2:06.378<BR><BR>12. Norick Abe, Yamaha YZR500, 2:06.567<BR><BR>13. Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Honda NSR500, 2:06.731<BR><BR>14. Sete Gibernau, Suzuki GSV-R, 2:06.964<BR><BR>15. Alex Barros, Honda NSR500, 2:07.015<BR><BR>16. John Hopkins, Yamaha YZR500, 2:07.686<BR><BR>17. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton KR, 2:07.822<BR><BR>18. Regis Laconi, Aprilia RS3, 2:07.916<BR><BR>19. Garry McCoy, Yamaha YZR500, 2:07.976<BR><BR>20. Tetsuya Harada, Honda NSR500, 2:08.168<BR><BR>21. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton KR, 2:08.294<BR><BR>22. Pere Riba, Yamaha YZR500, 2:15.140, Did Not Qualify, outside 107% of pole time.<BR><BR><BR>More, from a Suzuki press release:<BR><BR>Team Suzuki News Service<BR><BR>ROBERTS CLAIMS PROVISIONAL FRONT-ROW START<BR><BR>Suzuka - April 5, 2002.<BR><BR>TEAM Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Jr claimed fourth-fastest time today in the first ever timed practice session for the all-new MotoGP class - an excellent debut for the new V4 Suzuki GSV-R.<BR><BR>Team-mate Sete Gibernau and wild card entry Akira Ryo were close behind on lap times, but further down the order in the highly competitive field, with the Japanese rider 11th fastest, and Gibernau 14th. Both were confident of improvement tomorrow.<BR><BR>The first day of practice was fine and sunny, but high winds in the afternoon made for difficult conditions in the qualifying session for the new era of motorcycle racing. The rorty new 990cc four-stroke V4 GSV-R Suzuki, with a distinctive growling exhaust note, was launched a full year earlier than planned to join the racing revolution of the new top class of motorcycle racing.<BR><BR>One more day of practice, with one more hour-long timed qualifying session, remains before Sunday's Japanese GP, the first of 16 races this year.<BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS - Fourth Position, 2:05.630<BR>"Today was incredibly windy - and at this circuit it makes for a difficult situation. With all the hills and valleys, the wind comes from all directions. We had to adjust the chassis to the weather conditions rather than the ideal settings, and we seem to have made some small improvements from morning to afternoon. Engine-wise, again we made some improvements, but there is a lot more to come as we develop it. I still feel there's room for improvement for the ultimate lap time, especially if the wind dies down. My time came on a race tyre rather than a qualifier."<BR><BR>AKIRA RYO - 11th Position, 2:06.378<BR>"I wasn't able to make a time attack today with the strong wind, coming from all directions. I spent the time searching for a good tyre for the race. For tomorrow we have a few small chassis and engine setting changes, then I will try for a fast qualifying time. The feeling of the bike is really good, and I am optimistic."<BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU - 13th Position, 2:06.964<BR>"This morning was not so bad, but in the afternoon I was struggling to run even within one second of that time. We'd made some small changes that shouldn't have made much difference, but I could hardly ride the bike. I ran on twice at the chicane, and almost at Turn One. I came in and we put the bike back the way it was this morning. Still no better. It was only at the end of the session we found something that was causing me problems and we will fix it. It should be different tomorrow."<BR><BR>GARRY TAYLOR - Team Manager<BR>"It's fair to say that a lot of people didn't expect us to take a provisional front row grid position with such a new position. It's a good start. Now let's carry on."<BR><BR><BR>And now a release from Proton, which didn't get the rain team owner Kenny Roberts the elder had hoped for:<BR><BR> PROTON HAS A HARD START TO THE NEW YEAR <BR><BR>Round 1: Japanese GP, Suzuka First Qualifying: Friday April 5, 2002 <BR><BR>Nobuatsu Aoki: 17th, 2:07.822 <BR>Jeremy McWilliams: 21st, 2:08.294 <BR><BR>Proton Team KR riders Nobu Aoki and Jeremy McWilliams faced a hard start to the new MotoGP season. Both riders crashed today on the first day of practice for Sunday's Japanese GP, costing both the chance of a better showing on the time sheets. <BR><BR>Aoki fell heavily in the morning's free training session, severely damaging one of his machines, and sustaining heavy bruising, though lucky to escape more serious injury. Against all expectations, he went out again for the afternoon session – a heroic effort. <BR><BR>McWilliams fell in the afternoon, the victim of high and very unpredictable winds. Although he was unhurt and able to go out again on his spare bike, the lap times were not forthcoming because of minor machine problems. <BR><BR>There is one more day of practice for Sunday's GP, the opening round of the new MotoGP world championship, that pits 990cc four-strokes against the established 500cc two-strokes like the Proton KR3. First honours today went to a two-stroke, with Honda rider Loris Capirossi claiming provisional pole position. <BR> <BR><BR>NOBUATSU AOKI <BR>"That was a really difficult afternoon. I am hurting everywhere. For sure the bike is capable of a faster lap time. I only hope that tomorrow I will be a bit stronger so that I can achieve it." <BR> <BR><BR>JEREMY McWILLIAMS <BR>"The wind was really strong and unpredictable. I'm not sure if that was why I fell, but I believe so. I'd just put on a soft qualifying tyre and done a warm-up lap, and I was committed to Turn One when the front just went away and I fell. The front was pushing at many places on the track, and we'll have to change the set-up of the bike if it stays like this. I don't think that will help the lap time." <BR> <BR><BR>CHUCK AKSLAND – Team Manager <BR>"Sometimes you have bad days – and it was not for want of trying on the part of both riders. We didn't even expect Nobuatsu to go out in the afternoon, so that was a pretty good effort. From test results we know that our bike is capable of going faster. Jeremy went out to try and do that after he fell, but he had some bike problems. If the weather is good tomorrow, I'm sure we can do better."