Updated: Capirossi On MotoGP Pole At Motegi

Updated: Capirossi On MotoGP Pole At Motegi

© 2006, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

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FIM MotoGP World Championship Motegi, Japan September 23, 2006 Final Qualifying Results: 1. Loris Capirossi (Duc GP06), 1:45.724, Bridgestone 2. Valentino Rossi (Yam YZR-M1), 1:45.991, Michelin 3. Marco Melandri (Hon RC211V), 1:46.250, Michelin 4. Shinya Nakano (Kaw ZX-RR), 1:46.291, Bridgestone 5. Sete Gibernau (Duc GP06), 1:46.316, Bridgestone 6. Toni Elias (Hon RC211V), 1:46.326, Michelin 7. Nicky Hayden (Hon RC211V), 1:46.489, Michelin 8. Randy de Puniet (Kaw ZX-RR), 1:46.512, Bridgestone 9. Dani Pedrosa (Hon RC211V), 1:46.576, Michelin 10. Colin Edwards (Yam YZR-M1), 1:46.726, Michelin 11. Casey Stoner (Hon RC211V), 1:46.847, Michelin 12. Kousuke Akiyoshi (Suz GSV-R), 1:46.958, Bridgestone 13. John Hopkins (Suz GSV-R), 1:47.071, Bridgestone 14. Kenny Lee Roberts (Hon KR211V), 1:47.310, Michelin 15. Chris Vermeulen (Suz GSV-R), 1:47.451, Bridgestone 16. Maoki Matsudo (Kaw ZX-RR), 1:47.826, Bridgestone 17. Carlos Checa (Yam YZR-M1), 1:47.905, Dunlop 18. Makoto Tamada (Hon RC211V), 1:48.426, Michelin 19. James Ellison (Yam YZR-M1), 1:48.716, Dunlop 20. Alex Hofmann (Duc GP05), 1:48.748, Dunlop 21. Jose Luis Cardoso (Duc GP05), 1:50.359, Dunlop 250cc Grand Prix Final Qualifying Order Motegi, Japan September 23, 2006 1. Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia), 1:51.374 2. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda), 1:51.955 3. Alex de Angelis (Aprilia), 1:52.014 4. Hiroshi Aoyama (KTM), 1:52.032 5. Shuhei Aoyama (Honda), 1:52.060 6. Yuki Takahashi (Honda), 1:52.200 7. Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia), 1:52.374 8. Hector Barbera (Aprilia), 1:53.344 9. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia), 1:53.502 10. Jakub Smrz (Aprilia), 1:53.504 125cc Grand Prix Final Qualifying Order Motegi, Japan September 23, 2006 1. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia), 1:57.231 2. Mika Kallio (KTM), 1:57.510 3. Hector Faubel (Aprilia), 1:58.128 4. Julian Simon (KTM), 1:58.225 5. Sergio Gadea (Aprilia), 1:58.320 6. Lukas Pesek (Derbi), 1:58.550 7. Mattia Pasini (Aprilia), 1:58.598 8. Thomas Luthi (Honda), 1:58.778 9. Bradley Smith (Honda), 1:58.828 10. Tomoyoshi Koyama (Malaguti), 1:58.853 More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications: CAPIROSSI STORMS TO POLE IN ALL-ITALIAN FRONT ROW With the MotoGP and 250cc title races still wide open, and every advantage possibly decisive, today’s qualifying sessions for the antepenultimate Grand Prix of the season was always going to be a highly charged affair. Spectators were not only treated to this, but also clear skies and the prospect of seeing 125cc World Champion Alvaro Bautista once again demonstrate his dominance of the 125cc category. Loris Capirossi took pole for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan with a storming lap of 1’45.724, as he looks to repeat his 2005 win at Twin Ring Motegi tomorrow. The Italian followed on from his timesheet-topping performance in the morning free practice session to become one of only two riders to break the 1’46 barrier, with championship contender Valentino Rossi putting on a late charge to take the second spot on the grid. Rossi had previously emphasised that a good qualifying position in the remaining races would be essential for his title chances, and with series leader Nicky Hayden only able to put himself at the head of row three the charismatic Italian is in the driving seat at Motegi. Marco Melandri, victorious in Australia a week ago and still including himself in the list of title hopefuls, completes an all-Italian affair on row one, followed by home rider Shinya Nakano and the Spanish duo of Sete Gibernau and Toni Elias. Hayden’s fastest lap was just over half a second slower than Capirossi’s, leaving him ahead of Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet, team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Camel Yamaha’s Colin Edwards. 250cc Jorge Lorenzo took his tenth pole of 2006 after one of the most frantic five minute spells in this season’s 250cc championship. In the closing moments of the session the gathered fans at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit saw a crash from home rider Yuki Takahashi and Repsol Honda’s Shuhei Aoyama leading on course for a popular pole position, although he finally slipped down to fifth after Lorenzo had retaken the advantage with a 1’51.374 lap. Humangest Racing’s Andrea Dovizioso, needing to close the gap between himself and Lorenzo in the championship standings, clinched second place on the grid on his final lap of the Japanese track. The two were the only riders to go round in under 1’52. Alex de Angelis was another rider to leave it late before making his move, and will complete tomorrow’s front row. The older of the two Aoyama brothers, Hiroshi, heads row two ahead of his younger sibling Shuhei. Takahashi’s sixth place makes it an all-Japanese second line, with the top ten completed by Roberto Locatelli, Hector Barbera, Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz. 125cc Alvaro Bautista took pole position number six of the season with the fastest time in the 125cc category at Motegi. The new World Champion’s time of 1’57.231 confirmed his provisional pole from yesterday and put him ahead of Mika Kallio, fastest this morning. Hector Faubel and Julian Simon will line up alongside the two on the front row. The second row will be led by Sergio Gadea, unable to improve on yesterday’s times, whilst Lukas Pesek, Mattia Pasini and Thomas Luthi were only slightly faster than British rookie Bradley Smith, who took a phenomenal ninth place on his debut appearance at Twin Ring Motegi. Local rider Tomoyoshi Koyama wrapped up the top ten. MotoGP Pole position – Loris Capirossi – Ducati “Tomorrow’s going to be different, but we have done a good job in practice with a number of fast laps, which we continued with when we switched to qualifiers. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” 2nd position – Valentino Rossi – Yamaha “For sure I am very happy to be on the front row again for the fourth race in a row. My M1 has worked well from the start here so we’ve been able to work on the setting with various different things and then mix everything together to find the very best race set-up. Now it seems we’re in good shape. The bike worked very well also with the qualifying tyre and I had very good grip. Unfortunately I lost one qualifying tyre when Hopkins crashed in front of me, but luckily my team did a great job with the pit-stop it was even faster than a Formula 1 team! Fortunately I made a good lap with the final tyre and now we’re starting from second. I am happy; tomorrow will be a difficult race but I am quite confident.” 3rd position – Marco Melandri – Honda “It’s been good for me and we’re having a good weekend. I’m feeling better with the qualifying tyres than in the last few races, and a top five position on the grid was my goal for today. Tomorrow will be a hard race because of the amount of riders who arrive here in form.” More, from a press release issued by Camel Yamaha: ROSSI SEALS FRONT ROW START IN JAPAN Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi delighted his legion of local fans with a sensational final lap in qualifying practice for the Grand Prix of Japan this afternoon. Rossi continued his excellent progress with another day of hard work on the race setting of his YZR-M1 before heading out to challenge Loris Capirossi (Ducati) for pole. Unfortunately Rossi’s first attempt on qualifying tyres was baulked when a rider crashed in front him, forcing the Italian to make a last-minute pit-stop. It made for a tense finale as Rossi returned to the track and beat the chequered flag by just ten seconds, giving him one last chance to challenge Capirossi’s dominance. The World Champion responded in typical style with a lap of 1’45.991 – inside last year’s pole record but not quite enough to topple pole man Capirossi, meaning he will start tomorrow’s race from second place. Colin Edwards worked in tandem with Rossi throughout the day to improve the solid base setting the pair had found in yesterday’s opening free practice sessions. The Texan was again one of the leading riders on race rubber, lapping consistently in the low 1’48 mark and even dipping under the lap record of 1’47.968. However, the Texan struggled to improve on that pace significantly after fitting a qualifying tyre and he slid down the time sheets in the closing stages, ending the session in tenth place and setting himself a tough challenge tomorrow from the fourth row of the grid. VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd 1’45.991; 26 laps) “For sure I am very happy to be on the front row again for the fourth race in a row. My M1 has worked well from the start here so we’ve been able to work on the setting with various different things and then mix everything together to find the very best race set-up. Now it seems we’re in good shape. The bike worked very well also with the qualifying tyre and I had very good grip. Unfortunately I lost one qualifying tyre when Hopkins crashed in front of me, but luckily my team did a great job with the pit-stop it was even faster than a Formula 1 team! Fortunately I made a good lap with the final tyre and now we’re starting from second. I am happy; tomorrow will be a difficult race but I am quite confident.” COLIN EDWARDS (10th 1’46.726; 26 laps) “I’ve been happier with my qualifying position but I’ve got a good race pace so it’s not all doom! To be honest, even though on paper it doesn’t look too great, I’m really happy with the bike right now. It’s working really well, it’s just we couldn’t quite get it together with the qualifying tyre and when we put it in today it just overloaded the suspension a bit and made everything a bit too soft, so that’s something we need to think about for the next time. Race-wise our setting is pretty good and I think I’ve got one of the best rhythms out there. Obviously it’s annoying to be starting from the fourth row but I think I can come through the pack pretty quickly and then just get my head down! I need to get a good start, fight my way past a few people and then just keep pushing. I’m actually pretty excited about tomorrow and I’m looking for a good result.” DAVIDE BRIVIO CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR “It’s been another very good day for Valentino, it seems things are working well and it’s nice to be consistently on the front row. It’s good to be starting tomorrow’s race, which is so important for us with regards to the championship, from this position. It looks like he’s in good shape for the race and hopefully he can make the most of the start to get away in front. Unfortunately Colin wasn’t able to qualifying in such a high position but he actually has a very strong race pace so the situation is not too bad. If he can get a good start then I think he will be able to come through the field quite quickly and once he’s up front he should be able to stay there. Now we hope that the weather stays dry and that we can have a fun and exciting race!” FIRST ROW Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team, 1’45.724 VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) Camel Yamaha Team, 1’45.991 Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Honda, 1’46.250 SECOND ROW Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team, 1’46.291 Sete Gibernau (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team, 1’46.316 Toni Elias (SPA) Fortuna Honda, 1’46.326 THIRD ROW Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team, 1’46.489 Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki Racing Team, 1’46.512 Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda LCR, 1’46.576 10. COLIN EDWARDS (USA) Camel Yamaha Team, 1’46.726 More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki Racing: SECOND ROW FOR ON FORM NAKANO AT MOTEGI Kawasaki’s Shinya Nakano missed out on a front row start in his home Grand Prix by the narrowest of margins today at Motegi, after finishing fourth fastest in what must rank as one of the most unpredictable and exciting qualifying sessions of the MotoGP season so far. Nakano’s Kawasaki teammate, Randy de Puniet, will start from eighth place and the third row of the grid, after running top three on the timesheet for much of this afternoon’s qualifying session. With rain threatening ahead of this afternoon’s timed session, Nakano, like many of his factory rivals, opted to run a qualifying tyre right at the start, claiming pole position with his first flying lap. The Kawasaki pilot was demoted from the top spot by Loris Capirossi just fifteen minutes later, but the Italian only managed to hold on to pole position for thirty seconds, before he was pushed back to second place by a hard charging Randy de Puniet. At the halfway point Nakano put in a second flying lap on a Bridgestone qualifier, to move up to take second place behind his teammate, giving Kawasaki their first ever one-two at the top of the qualifying timesheet. Capirossi bounced back with just ten minutes to go, shattering the previous pole position record to reclaim his place at the front of the grid, just ahead of the Kawasaki pairing. Capirossi’s lap was good enough to secure him pole position, but a flurry of fast laps in the last minute of the session saw both Kawasaki pilots pushed from the front two rows of the grid and, while Nakano was able to retake fourth place with his final flying lap, de Puniet was unable to improve his previous best time on his last qualifying tyre, and was forced to settle for eighth place at the chequered flag. A mechanical problem with his number one bike forced Kawasaki’s wild card rider, Naoki Matsudo, to switch to his spare Ninja ZX-RR for the second half of this afternoon’s qualifying session. The 33-year-old Japanese rider was unable to improve upon his previous best lap time aboard his number two machine, but finished the session a creditable sixteenth fastest overall. Matsudo will start his first Grand Prix for Kawasaki from the head of the sixth row of the grid, in front of MotoGP regulars, Carlos Checa and Makoto Tamada. Shinya Nakano: 4th – 1’46.291 “I think this afternoon’s session must have been exciting for the spectators, because it was certainly exciting for me! We weren’t sure of the weather at the beginning of the session, so we put in a qualifier straight away, and with this I managed to take pole early on. At the end we were throwing qualifiers into the bike, and I was riding as hard as I could to try and get myself back on the front row. This was good fun, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t quite do enough and I just missed out on a top three spot. Starting from the second row is not such a big disadvantage here at Motegi, but it’s critical that I get a good start tomorrow if I am to stay with the leading group. If conditions change for tomorrow, then we might make some small revisions to set-up during morning warm-up, but my lap times have been both fast and consistent in race trim, so I’m confident we’ll go to the line with a competitive package tomorrow whatever the conditions.” Randy de Puniet: 8th – 1’46.512 “Yesterday was a bit difficult, but today has been much better. The changes we made to the bike overnight meant I was fast from the off on race tyres this morning, and we were able to improve again in race trim this afternoon. Because the weather looked unsettled this afternoon, we opted to run a qualifier very early on, and with this I was able to take pole position. As everyone else switched to qualifying tyres I slipped back on the provisional grid, but I really thought it was possible to improve my position with my final flying lap on a qualifier. I don’t know why, but the last lap didn’t come together as I was expecting, leaving me on the third row of the grid. But, my times have been good in race trim, and I’m confident it’s possible to put in a strong performance in tomorrow’s race, despite my starting position.” Naoki Matsudo: 16th – 1’47.826 “We had a mechanical problem with my number one bike very early on in this afternoon’s session, so I completed most of qualifying aboard my second bike, on which I was unable to improve on my previous best lap time. Tomorrow we’ll try the number one bike again. Both the engine and tyres are working well, but we might make some small changes to our chassis set-up depending on the conditions for morning warm-up. I’ve enjoyed myself so far at my first MotoGP event for Kawasaki, and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race.” More, from a press release issued by Pramac D’Antin: ALEX HOFMANN AND JOSE LUIS CARDOSO ARE CONFIDENT FOR THE RACE ALEX HOFMANN classified himself in twentieth position at the end of the Qualifying Practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix, actually closing this long Asiatic tour. The German rider made the maximum even though he had traction difficulties with the tires of his DUCATI DESMOSEDICI GP6 “Sat”. For the race, he hopes to fight once again with the riders that are preceding him to conquest more points for the general classification. JOSE LUIS CARDOSO finished in twenty-first position and tomorrow will make his best to obtain a good result. The race will start tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. (GMT+9). ALEX HOFMANN #66 (20th – 1’48.748): “I gave the 100% but in these conditions it was difficult to make anything more. Today I was at most and I’m not satisfied. Even if we are quite far from the first riders in qualifying configuration, I’m confident about the race as my DUCATI has a very constant pace. The Team has been working a lot in these days and I really want to thank every member of it. Tomorrow, I would like to fight as in Phillip Island to get some more points. I must make a good start and then I hope to have some luck as well. These 24 laps will surely be a great show!” JOSE LUIS CARDOSO #30 (21st – 1’50.359): “I made the best I could but todays’ qualifying practice couldn’t go much better for us. I have difficulties with the traction and tomorrow, during the warm-up, we will try to arrange the last details and allow me to make a good race. I’m confident about the constant pace I have at my disposal and the stability of my motorcycle to get back some positions and satisfy my sponsors, my fans and my Team that assisted me with precision and efficiency”. EMANUELE MARTINELLI – Track Engineer of Alex Hofmann: “The general situation of this Grand Prix is better than what could be seen today. We suffered riding in qualifying configuration but we are optimistic for the race. HOFMANN’s motorcycle is quite stable and the pace with the race tires is constant. I think there are good possibilities to see our rider fighting with the others to obtain some points tomorrow”. More, from a press release issued by Fortuna Honda: FIRST AND SECOND ROW FOR MARCO MELANDRI AND TONI ELIAS IN THE JAPANESE GP Tomorrow the Fortuna Honda riders Marco Melandri and Toni Elias will start from the first and second row of the Japanese Grand Prix. Both riders had two positive practice days and today they could finalize the job done with a good result. Marco Melandri, the winner of the Australian GP, lapped with good rhythm in the morning session while he struggled more in the afternoon because of changed track conditions. The Italian was able to score the best third time with qualifying tyres and is ready for tomorrow’s race. Marco’s team mate Toni Elias will start tomorrow from the second row. The Spaniard scored a good grip position after two positive practice days. Toni is confident to make a good start in order to stay with the leading group. MARCO MELANDRI (3rd, 1’46″250 ): “It’s a very good moment for me. It’s a great satisfaction to be back in front row, I was missing the first row since Donington Park. The most important thing is that we are competitive with qualifying tyres, which is important to get a good grid position. This morning the set up of the bike was good and I could lap with a good pace. In the afternoon session, because of changed track conditions, I struggled more. Fortunately I could get the best from my bike with qualifying tyres and I scored the third fastest time. Tomorrow it will be important to make a good start. The race will be tough but I have nothing to risk in terms of championship so I will give my best taking some risks, if necessary”. TONI ELIAS (6th, 1’46″326): “I’m very happy. We have met our first target which was starting from the first two rows. I’m confident for the race, the bike is well balanced and I have a good feeling. I still need to improve my rhythm especially with full tank because I’m still struggling especially in the first laps. Tomorrow it will be very important to make a good start and to keep the contact with the leading group. I’m ready to fight and I will give my best”. More, from a press release issued by Ducati Marlboro: CAPIROSSI STORMS TO SECOND POLE OF 2006 Ducati Marlboro Team rider Loris Capirossi scored his second pole position of the year at Motegi today while team-mate Sete Gibernau improved to a close fifth fastest for a second-row start. The pair set an impressive pace on race tyres and were running first and second until the final moments of this afternoon’s qualifying session. Pole sitter and winner here last year, Capirossi was at his aggressive best on qualifying tyres as he rode the fastest-ever lap of Motegi, bettering his 2005 pole time by 0.639 seconds. This is the Ducati Marlboro Team’s first pole since Gibernau topped qualifying at June’s Italian GP and Capirossi’s first pole since he was quickest at Jerez in March. Gibernau meanwhile made excellent progress at a track which has always proved a challenge for the Spaniard. His crew changed his set-up today and he was able to dramatically improve his pace. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro Team, pole position, 1m 45.724s “My best lap was amazing, seven tenths faster than last year’s pole, incredible! I did my best but a big part of this is down to my crew, they’ve done a great job today and all weekend. Step by step we have worked towards a fast, consistent pace on race tyres. Me and my crew have worked together for four years and there is so much respect and friendliness in our relationship. Even when things aren’t going so well they still manage a smile and that’s important. We really deserved today’s pole. As always, tomorrow is another day. We’ll see what happens with the weather. I know I can also be fast if it rains but as usual I would prefer a dry race.” Sete Gibernau, Ducati Marlboro Team, 5th fastest, 1m 46.316s “We wanted the first or second rows, so we made it. Today was very good, the guys did a great job, we went though a lot of stuff, step by step. We combined the best aspects of the two set-ups we ran yesterday and changed the geometry so the bike was much more natural and better balanced on the brakes, so I could load the front without unloading the rear too much. First time out this afternoon I was quite fast with race tyres, I was putting in some good times, I was pleased with that. But I didn’t get the best out of the qualifier, I rushed it a little too much, I wanted to do too much, so didn’t use its full potential. This is a place I don’t really like, so I think we have done a lot of good work and now we are just trying to decide whether to use the big tyre or the other tyre for the race. Both tyres are good but grip is better with the big tyre, maybe consistency too, while the bike is more manoeuvrable with the other tyre. We’ll try both again in warm-up and see which is better. We also want to improve the front a little during straight-up braking, but overall we are feeling good.” Afternoon session temperatures. Ambient: 22 Track: 39 More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone Motorsport: CAPIROSSI TAKES MOTEGI POLE IN BRIDGESTONE’S BACKYARD Loris Capirossi once again proved the might of the Ducati-Bridgestone package around the Motegi circuit by smashing his own pole position record by almost seven-tenths-of-a-second on his way to the front of the grid for tomorrow’s 24-lap Japanese Grand Prix. The result marks Capirossi’s second pole position of the year after the season-opening event in Jerez and Bridgestone’s sixth pole in total this season. The closest rival to Capirossi’s time of 1m45.724s was eventually Valentino Rossi who was nearly 0.3s adrift of his compatriot’s best lap. Marco Melandri made it an all Italian front row by nudging Bridgestone rider Shinya Nakano back to fourth spot for his home race in the closing stages of this afternoon’s qualifying hour. Nakano and team-mate Randy de Puniet had dominated the session having elected to set a time on qualifying tyres early in the session. Both Kawasaki riders threatened the top three but Nakano missed out by 0.041s, while De Puniet ended up eighth, just two-tenths from his first MotoGP front row. Sete Gibernau also performed strongly for a valiant fifth position, his best qualifying result since he took pole in Mugello back in June, validating the competitiveness of the Ducatis this weekend. Suzuki’s three-man line-up was led by wildcard entry Kousuke Akiyoshi who took 12th position in his debut MotoGP qualifying session. Regular riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen must settle for 13th and 15th respectively after a difficult session in which Hopkins crashed out. The second wildcard rider, Kawasaki’s Naoki Matsudo, also completed a solid lap on his Bridgestone qualifiers and will start his first MotoGP race in 16th place. JUNICHI KAWAJIRI – Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development: “That was generally a good qualifying session for us with Loris taking pole position at our home GP. He produced one of his trademark super-qualifying laps to beat his own pole position record by 0.7s, a standard that proved impossible to beat. Ducati has again proven to be competitive with Sete also featuring prominently this weekend. Kawasaki has performed well in race trim and with qualifying tyres. Shinya was unlucky to miss out on the front row but fourth place still puts him in a good position to attack in his home race. Randy also used his qualifying tyres well to take eighth and perhaps deserved more after dominating most of the session. Suzuki endured a difficult afternoon with John crashing out, so they will be looking to use the strong race pace shown in this morning’s practice to overcome disappointing grid positions. The two wildcard entries made a positive impact with Kousuke Akiyoshi in 12th for Suzuki and Naoki Matsudo in 16th for Kawasaki. They have performed faultlessly this weekend and we hope they will do a good job in the race. Qualifying was an action-packed session with big dark clouds forcing riders to set a qualifying time earlier in the session than usual. We tried different qualifying compounds, one slightly harder compound that was able to run two qualifying laps and a softer version that was the one which allowed riders to set their fastest times. We could see from this morning’s practice times and the runs on race tyres this afternoon that all three of our teams are able to set competitive lap times over a race distance, so we will be expecting big things in Bridgestone’s home GP in Motegi.” LORIS CAPIROSSI Ducati Corse Pole Setter: “My best lap was amazing, seven tenths faster than last year’s pole, incredible! I did my best but a big part of this is down to my crew, they’ve done an incredible job all weekend. Step by step we have worked towards a fast consistent pace on race tyres. We really deserved today’s pole, but as always tomorrow is another day. We will see what happens with the weather. I know I can be fast if it rains but I would prefer a dry race.” More, from a press release issued by Honda Racing: FORM-MAN MELANDRI POWERS ONTO FRONT ROW Loris Capirossi (Ducati) qualifed on pole here on a dry track after the rain of Australia, with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) second fastest and with last weekend’s winner Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) completing the front row. Series points leader Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) qualified seventh fastest. This is Capirossi’s second pole of the season and the Italian, who currently lies fifth overall in the World Championship points table, looks as if he may repeat his feat of 2005 qualifying on pole and then winning the race. But this time he has to reckon with the revelation of the final races: Marco Melandri. The Italian Honda star finished last season strongly with wins in Turkey and at Valencia and now he looks as if he might make the same strong showing with three races to go. Marco knows he is in with a fighting chance of taking this season’s title after his win at Phillip Island. His victory last weekend was the third time he has topped the podium in 2006. Were it not for his being a victim of the mass turn one crash at Catalunya, he could well be doing better than third equal in the points table. But he has momentum with him, and at just 0.526 seconds shy of Capirossi’s pole he has every chance of adding another win to his tally, and to take another step towards what looks like a title showdown that will be played out at the final round at the end of next month. Marco said, “It’s a very good moment for me. It’s great to be back on the front row. The most important thing is we are competitive on qualifying tyres. This morning the set-up of the bike was good and I could lap at a good pace. In the afternoon session, because of slightly changed track conditions, I struggled more. Tomorrow it’ll be important to make a good start. The race will be tough but I have nothing to risk in terms of the Championship so I will take some risks, if necessary.” His team-mate Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V) qualified sixth and said, “I’m very happy. We’ve met our first target, which was starting from the first two rows. I’m confident for the race, the bike is well balanced and I have a good feeling. I still need to improve my rhythm especially with a full tank because I’m still struggling in the first laps. Tomorrow it’ll be very important to make a good start and to zeep contact with the leading group. I’m ready to fight and give my best.” Nicky managed the seventh fastest time and said, “Well I’m not thrilled about seventh and being so far behind pole position, especially after being on pole last week. But that’s racing and the quality in MotoGP is deep. We’ll see what happens tomorrow we’re going to have a big job on our hands. We’ve been a step behind these boys all weekend and I’m not sure where we’re losing out exactly. We’ve still got to make the final decision about what tyre I’m going to use. I just don’t have enough feel from the rear. But we’ve come back strong before and we’ll put our heads together and give it all we’ve got tomorrow.” Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) qualified ninth. He said, “We improved our times from the morning session which is good, though we still have to find a few tenths because I’m losing a little bit everywhere. Unfortunately when we put the qualifier on we lost out. My race tyre choice is still not 100 per cent clear so tomorrow in the warm-up we want to make a further test providing the weather lets us. We’ll have to see if it’s a dry race and aim for a great start.” Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) on row four, as 11th fastest man, said, “For race pace I’ve got a really good set-up no problems at all, and if I get away with the front guys I should up be there the team has done a great job. It’s not a long run to the first corner and in the past couple years there have been some problems at turn one, so maybe the fourth row is the best place for the start. The bike feels strong on race tyres, both on the brakes and off the turns. I just need to get away with the front group and I’m reasonably confident.” Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) qualified 14th and said, “Basically, we jumped into qualifying and just had chatter at the front. The faster I went the more chatter I got. We just got hung out to dry with the chatter. We kind of had a bad day as far as that goes. Basically, I think if I get a good start I can sneak into the top ten by the first couple of laps. I think from there I should be able to make some progress.” “Today was not my day,” said Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) who qualified 18th. “Since this morning I did not have the necessary rear grip feeling. I am really disappointed because I wanted to have a good performance here. Today’s afternoon temperature was lower than forecasted and this probably had a negative effect. Now, I need to talk to my technicians to understand if and how to change the set-up tomorrow morning.” The final 250cc qualifying session belonged firmly to series points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) who set a pole time of 1m 51.374 seconds to secure his tenth pole of the season so far. But Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) kept close on his heels qualifying second fastest, 0.758 seconds away of the pole time. Alex de Angelis (Aprilia) was third fastest and Hiro Aoyama (KTM) completes the front row. Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) heads the second row with Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) alongside him as sixth fastest qualifier. Dovi said, “I am happy. Things have definitely improved since yesterday as we were able to find a very good set-up. The Honda works very well at this track, and in the afternoon my rhythm was fast and I could even make a ‘hot’ lap with a race tyre. I’m proud of today’s second place here at Motegi and I’m optimistic about tomorrow.” Aoyama said, “I’m not really happy. I finished fifth, that means second row of the grid. I don’t really know what happened. I tried, I pushed but I just couldn’t get on the front row. The setting of the bike is OK, the tyres are also OK, as well as the rider. I will need to make an aggressive start and push hard during the race. We’ll have a look at the suspension settings tomorrow during the warm-up, because I think I have a tiny problem there, and then just keep on pushing.” Takahasi said, “After working on the set-up of the bike, I went on track with new tyres with the intention to improve my time. I waited for some free space in the track and I slowed down a bit at the beginning, but probably the tyres cooled off too much. Then, I entered the first corner too fast and I crashed out, luckily escaping unhurt. Anyway, my pace is good and I think I can be competitive for the race.” Qualifying for the 125cc class was dominated by the new 2006 World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) who put his machine on pole with a 1m 57.231 second lap. Mika Kallio (KTM) qualified second with Hector Faubel (Aprilia) third fastest and Julian Simon (KTM) completing the front row. Former World Champion Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) qualified eighth fastest to achieve a second row start, while rookie Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) made his best qualifying performance of the season so far for a top ten start as ninth fastest man. Fabrizio Lai (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R) qualified 11th and Gabor Talmacsi (Humangest Honda RS125R) 12th. Luthi said. “Much better today we have got rid of most of the chatter that lost me time yesterday. I had to fight hard to get a second row start but I started from seventh on the grid last year and ended up fight for the lead with Kallio. In the warm up we have a couple of little things to try on suspension set up, only details really. On my start lap I was alone but could see Faubel in front and just tried my best to close the gap. He was for sure faster tan me but I’m not worried I’m quite happy with t he bike and I now the team will make it even better in the morning warm up.” Smith said, “I’m very happy. This is my best qualifying position so far. I’m on the third row and that was actually my plan for this weekend. From Australia I said that I wanted to be in the second or third row because that’s where I needed to be so it’s nice to accomplish that. Now I have to make a very good start, and try to get off with the leading group and make a good finish that would be perfect. Let’s wait and see tomorrow because that’s what really counts and I’m looking forward to it.” Talmacsi said, “I’m not satisfied as I’ve been having problems since yesterday. I keep having problems with the front of the bike. I’ve tried many solutions but still I don’t feel confident in entering the curves and I can’t get a good rhythm. We have to invent something during tomorrow’s warm up, because I’m not enjoying this very much.” HONDA GP RIDER QUOTES: FINAL QUALIFYING JAPANESE GP MOTEGI MotoGP: Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda, 3rd: “It’s a very good moment for me. It’s a great satisfaction to be back in front row, I was missing the first row since Donington Park. The most important thing is that we are competitive with qualifying tyres, which is important to get a good grid position. This morning the set up of the bike was good and I could lap with a good pace. In the afternoon session, because of changed track conditions, I struggled more. Fortunately I could get the best from my bike with qualifying tyres and I scored the third fastest time. Tomorrow it will be important to make a good start. The race will be tough but I have nothing to risk in terms of championship so I will give my best taking some risks, if necessary”. Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda, 6th): “I’m very happy. We have met our first target which was starting from the first two rows. I’m confident for the race, the bike is well balanced and I have a good feeling. I still need to improve my rhythm especially with full tank because I’m still struggling especially in the first laps. Tomorrow it will be very important to make a good start and to keep the contact with the leading group. I’m ready to fight and I will give my best”. Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda, 7th: “Well I’m not thrilled about finishing seventh and being so far behind pole position, especially after being on pole last week. But hey, that’s racing and the quality in MotoGP is deep. We’ll see what happens tomorrow we’re going to have a big job on our hands. My qualifying lap definitely didn’t feel too great I was scared to look at the time because I knew it wasn’t going to be real pretty. We’ve been a step behind these boys all weekend and I’m not sure where we’re losing out exactly. We’ve still got to make the final decision about what tyre I’m going to race and the boys are going to need a Red Bull tonight because we’re going to be here a long time trying to see if we can find some improvements. I just don’t have enough feel from the rear. But we’ve come back strong before and we’ll put our heads together and give it all we’ve got tomorrow.” Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, 9th: “We improved our times from the morning session which is good, though we still have to find a few tenths because I’m losing a little bit everywhere. And unfortunately when we put the qualifying tyre on we lost out in the same places. My race tyre choice is still not 100 per cent clear so tomorrow in the warm-up we want to make a further test providing the weather lets us. We’ll have to see if it’s a dry race and aim for a great start. The third row is not ideal but I have been able to come through from this kind of position before so it’s not so bad. My knee is quite good now but the toe is still giving some discomfort but we’ll be ok for the race.” Casey Stoner, LCR Honda,11th: “For race pace I have got a really good set-up, no problems at all, and if I get away with the front guys I should up be there — the team have done a great job. It’s not a long run to the first corner and the past couple years there have been some problems at turn one, so maybe the fourth row is the best place for the start. Qualifying was looking good and I thought I could have been a little further forward but I was just focusing on race set-up. The bike feels strong on race tyres, both on the brakes and off the turns, I just need to get away with the front group and I’m reasonably confident.” Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR Honda,14th: Basically, we jumped into qualifying and just had chatter in the front. It kind of solidified my lap time. The faster I went the more chatter I got. It’s hard because it’s just one of those perfect moments when trying-with a high grip circuit-to develop really hurt us. A lot of things on this bike we need to prove work by the end of the year. Sometimes I have to take the initiative to say, OK, we’ve got to run it. One thing’s testing and the other thing is actual racing with other guys. We just got hung out to dry with the chatter. We kind of got a qualifier in late. We kind of had a bad day as far as that goes. Basically, I think if I get a good start, and hopefully everybody will get in each other’s way, I can sneak into the top ten by the first couple of laps. I think from there I should be able to make some progress. Kenny Roberts Sr, : We’ve been trying to get a little bit easier to ride it fast. We need to improve our race pace for the total race. That’s what we’ve been lacking. Some of it has to do with the stiffness of the chassis. When there’s no grip on the racetrack, we’re fairly good right away, then we tend to get a little bit less competitive as the race comes around. Some of that we felt that the stiffness of the chassis was down a little bit, which makes it easier to ride when it’s a little slippery, has a little bit more feel. But as the grip improves, it gets a little bit loose. Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda, 18th: “Today was not my day. Since this morning I did not have the necessary rear grip feeling. I am really disappointed because I wanted to have a good performance here. Today afternoon temperature was lower than forecasted and this probably had a negative effect. Now, I need to speak with my technicians to understand if and how to intervene on tomorrow morning set up.” 250cc: Andrea Dovizioso, Humangest Honda, 2nd : “I am happy. Things have definitely improved since yesterday as we were able to find a very good set-up. The Honda works very well at this track, and in the afternoon my rhythm was fast and I could even make a ‘hot’ lap with a race tyre. I’m proud of today’s second place here at Motegi and I’m optimistic about tomorrow.” Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda, 4th: “I’m not really happy. I finished fifth, that means second row of the grid. I don’t really know what happened. I tried, I pushed but I just couldn’t get on the front row. The setting of the bike is OK, the tyres are also OK, as well as the rider. I will need to make an aggressive start and push hard during the race. We’ll have a look at the suspension settings tomorrow during the warm-up, because I think I have a tiny problem there, and then just keep on pushing.” Yuki Takahashi, Humangest Honda,6th: “After working on the set-up of the bike, I went on track with new tyres with the intention to improve my time. I waited for some free space in the track and I slowed down a bit at the beginning, but probably the tyres cooled off too much. Then, I entered the first corner too fast and I crashed out, luckily escaping unhurt. Anyway, my pace is good and I think I can be competitive for the race.” David De Gea, Repsol Honda, 13th: “I’m very happy. I have improved the times I set yesterday a lot and I would actually said that it would be impossible to be better. Despite the difficult challenge I’ve been able to improve them. This is not my usual bike and improving your times means moving forward, and moving forward with a bike you don’t know is always more difficult. It is a challenge I have managed to achieve. The bike has worked perfectly well, as well as the team and this has also been something that pushed me forward; the team but also Alberto who has been there supporting me all the time, and everything in general. The bike behaves perfectly well, it is a very noble bike that allowed me to improve my times. The most important thing for tomorrow is finishing the race, because after such a good weekend, the crowning point would be finishing the race. But I haven’t set myself any objective so far, I don’t know in which position I will be able to finish; I just want to make my race and to do it as much in the front as possible.” Ratthapark Wilairot Thai Honda Castrol Endurance: 14th: “Yesterday, I was impressed because I could ride with the Grand Prix riders, but today, I was riding cool. Engine set-up is not yet perfect and also I am not so good at braking. So overall, I am not so happy but tonight I will think about the tactics for the race.” Aleix Espargaro, Wurth Honda BQR,19th: “I’m not very happy really even though we have improved a lot from yesterday. We changed a few things overnight, mostly on the chassis and I feel comfortable while braking hard, my hand is not so sore today. I am sure I can run with the group tomorrow but the factory bikes have much better brakes and more acceleration than us so we cannot run with them in the race. Fabrizio Perren, Stop and Go Racing, 20th: . “I crashed after just three laps of qualifying. I was on a new tyre from Dunlop and it felt good but on lap three the rear end let go and I high-sided off the bike. It took 25 minutes to get it back to the pit. The team took eight minutes to get it ready so I only got in three more laps. I felt OK on the track so if the warm up goes well for me I could have a good race.” Arturo Tizon, Wurth Honda BQR, 23rd: “This is my first time at Motegi and yesterday I didn’t do well. We came here with the same set up as we had in Phillip Island last week and have only had to make a few adjustments. This track is so hard on braking and you need good acceleration so I have had to change my riding style a little to go fast. I am still learning the best lines around Motegi but I know I will have a good constant race pace tomorrow.” Arnaud Vincent, Molenaar Honda, 30th: . “Qualifying was the first time we have been completely free of the engine problem that started in Phillip Island but at the moment the engine is not fast enough. I think the standard kit engine is better. The chassis is always good but that will not be enough around here. I am happy with my riding, the engine is my only problem.” 125cc: Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda: 8th. “Much better today we have got rid of most of the chatter that lost me time yesterday. I had to fight hard to get a second row start but I started from seventh on the grid last year and ended up fight for the lead with Kallio. In the warm up we have a couple of little things to try on suspension set up, only details really. On my start zap I was alone but could see Faubel in front and just tried my best to close the gap. He was for sure faster tan me but I’m not worried I’m quite happy with t he bike and I now the team will make it even better in the warm up.” Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 9th. “I’m very happy. This is my best qualifying position so far. I’m on the third row. It was actually my plan for this weekend. From Australia I said that I wanted to be in the second or third row because that’s where I needed to be so it’s nice to accomplish that after such a difficult day yesterday so that’s a really positive thing. Now I have to make a very good start, and try to get off with the leading group and make a good finish, that would be perfect. Let’s wait and see tomorrow because that’s what really counts and I’m really looking forward to it.” Fabrizio Lai, Seedorf Racing World: 11th. “I went out of the track at 150 km/h. I don’t remember anything about the accident and for a few of time I have lost the sensitivity of my legs. I have reported a lot of contusions on the back and a fracture of a finger but now I feel good enough to hope to do the race tomorrow. The doctors will decide tomorrow in the morning if I will be able to ride”¦ I hope it will be a positive decision particularly if it will be a wet race”. Gabor Talmacsi, Humangest Honda: 12th “I am not satisfied as I’ve been having problems since yesterday. I keep having problems with the front of the bike; I tried many solutions but still I don’t feel confident in entering the curves and I can’t get a good rhythm. Still I haven’t found a solution and so we have to invent something during tomorrow’s warm up, because I’m not enjoying so much”. Mike Di Meglio, FFM Honda: 13th. “We had a lot of rear wheel chatter yesterday but we fixed that. The only problem I have is the front wheel juddering under heavy braking. The engine is very good and I feel good here. On my fast lap I was with Bradley Smith but we had different lines in the fast corner and I had to ease off and lost a little time to him.” Sandro Cortese, Elit Honda: 14th. “That session was much better we found more acceleration off the corners but I have a small problem with over revving in the middle gears but we can change the gearbox to help with that. On my fast lap I was behind Bautista but he went away from me a little and it didn’t seem that I had made a fast one but I didn’t realise he was on his fastest lap time. The bike is pretty good and if I get a good start I will have a good race.” Tito Rabat, Wurth Honda BQR: 21st. “The bike was much better today after we fixed the clutch problems I had yesterday. Qualifying started well for and I was following Gadea and I O but many riders got in our way. When I went out for the second time everything was fine until I tried for my fast lap I was 0.5s faster at the first intermediate following Talmacsi and Luthi then a wild card rider virtually stopped in front of me and I had to close the gas and I did not improve my time. The bike is good today but maybe not the rider.” Kazuma Watanabe, Humangest Honda, 31st: “I’m very disappointed because I made a mistake and went wide at turn 4 during the final lap and so I couldn’t improve. Anyway, today I understand better the bike, I can ride it more easily and also I can control it as I would like”. Hiromi Iwata, Plus One Honda: 32nd: “I just couldn’t go fast. Yesterday I was doing OK and I expected to repeat it today but I am back to where we started yesterday morning. I wanted to follow the fast guys but I missed it. I was going fairy smooth so I thought I could improve my lap time but I couldn’t.” Shouya Tomizawa, FRS Honda: 35th: “It wasn’t a good day either. My machine is getting better. But I can’t a good rhythm and wasn’t feeling comfortable. I hope to go faster during the warm-up tomorrow morning.” Michele Conti, Seedorf Racing World: 36th. “Today I could improve my time but the session of 30 minutes it is really a very short time with that traffic on the track! So tomorrow I will start again from the back”. Toshihisa Kuzuhara, S-way Honda: 37th: “I couldn’t make the lap time I expected today. It is getting better and better but my lap time does not improve. I should have tried everything earlier but I was behind my schedule. All I have to do tomorrow is to try my best.” Iori Namihira, Honda Suzuka Racing: 38th: “Both engine and chassis set-ups are improving. I made a mistake at the final corner during my final qualifying lap and I touched another machine. If I didn’t make this mistake I would have marked better lap time. Luckily there is no damage to the machine and I will try my best tomorrow by thinking the tactics.” Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 39th.”I have too much pain from the injuries I got in my crash at Phillip Island. I am just not flexible or comfortable on the bike. I think the bike is good on top speed but in the end I have to do it and I’m just not fit enough.” More, from a press release issued by Rizla Suzuki: MIXED DAY FOR RIZLA SUZUKI AT MOTEGI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins had a day of two distinct halves in Japan today as the morning session saw him as one of the fastest riders on race tyres, but a crash in qualifying saw him relegated to the fifth row for tomorrow’s race. The 23-year-old Anglo-American has been up with the quickest times all weekend on his Bridgestone race tyres and continued that this morning. Hopkins (P13, 1’47.071) continued to test the tyres he will use in tomorrow’s race whilst other riders chose to use qualifiers in the first session. He showed that he has a good race set-up as he recorded consistently fast laps. The afternoon qualifying session didn’t go to plan and a heavy crash with 10 minutes remaining cost Hopkins valuable time, he was able to get back on track on his second bike but couldn’t better his earlier time. Rizla Suzuki’s Test Team rider and MotoGP debutant Kousuke Akiyoshi will start from 12th position on the grid tomorrow and the highest placed Suzuki. He used his home track knowledge to the full in the qualifying session to record a time of 1’46.958. Chris Vermeulen (P15, 1’47.451) continued to improve on his times all day and will start from the fifth row with team-mate Hopkins. He too will be looking for a good start and to get amongst the front pack early on. The pole position for tomorrow’s 24 lap race was taken by Loris Capirossi on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati. The race will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (05.00hrsGMT) with all three Suzuki racers determined to put on a good show for all the visiting Suzuki management, guests and fans. John Hopkins: “I just couldn’t get the front of the bike to work with any of the qualifying tyres this afternoon and I have now made it hard work for myself tomorrow. On race tyres we are one of the fastest out there so a good grid position was important today. I haven’t got that, so I will have to go all out in the race from the start to get up to the front and show that I can challenge for a podium. I will certainly be going for it, of that you can be certain!” Chris Vermeulen: “We made a lot of progress from yesterday and I made a lot within myself as well. I feel more familiar with the circuit and we are going quicker all the time. With qualifying I felt I was losing too much time in the first split and that is something I need to work on overnight and in the warm-up. I’ve qualified less than four-tenths behind John which is not too bad for my first time here. We still have a lot of work to do in the race, but I think it’s obtainable. The bike’s working really well, and let’s hope that we can move up through the field.” Kousuke Akiyoshi: “I am very surprised but very happy to be the first of the Suzukis. I got in a good lap behind Rossi and set a good time. I will now start in 12th and try to go higher. The bike is working well here and the Bridgestone tyres are giving me lots of grip and confidence. I now look forward to the race.” Paul Denning Team Manager: “I think the day went to plan for Rizla Suzuki apart from the last 30 minutes of the qualifying session, when unfortunately especially for John things just didn’t work out. Congratulations to Akiyoshi san for qualifying as the highest placed Suzuki, and proving his ability in such a strong field. “John has a mountain to climb tomorrow in terms of his starting position, but he has shown over the weekend that he is amongst the fastest riders on race tyres. So it will all be down to a good start and some aggressive riding early on to see what he can achieve. “Chris has improved all weekend but it is always tough on a track that you have no experience on. With a few more changes overnight he will be looking to improve his position in tomorrow’s race.” More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Racing: CHALLENGING WEEKEND CONTINUES FOR TECH 3 YAMAHA TEAM AT MOTEGI TWIN RING Although it was a challenging one hour qualifying session for the Tech 3 Yamaha Team there are plenty of encouraging signs to demonstrate to riders, Carlos Checa and James Ellison that the Japanese Grand Prix at the Motegi Twin Ring tomorrow could provide satisfactory results for the team in a session headed by Loris Capirossi on a Ducati. With a multitude of Dunlop tyres to test it was never going to be an easy two days of practice and qualifying as Carlos and James will start from finished in 17th and 19th positions respectively. It was a confidence building exercise as well, as both riders lowered their lap times considerably and set their fastest times in the closing moments of the qualifying session. Carlos Checa (17th, 1’47.905, 24 laps) “We knew we would have a lot of tyres to test here this weekend but to be in this position is not what we imagined after the success of last weekends efforts. We tried many different tyres that Dunlop has brought along for the weekend. We have cured the chattering problems from yesterday so now we will continue to work hard at improving the situation. We have proven to ourselves and everyone else this year we will try everything to reflect the hard work that the entire team has put in to find a little secret to work some magic. With the times I did on race tyres I am looking forward to the race as if I can get a good start I know I can stick with many of the riders that qualified in front of me and now we have good durability in the tyres I hope to be passing quite a few of them.” James Ellison (19th1’48.716, 23 laps) “We were struggling here yesterday but we have found something that has allowed us to improve our lap times. Even though we had so many tyres to test that may have put us behind a bit, we have found something in the setup to give us a good direction to work on overnight. We still haven’t decided on a race tyre for tomorrow as with the way the weather has been we don’t want to make a final decision until after warmup in the morning. The competition in MotoGP is so tight these days that if you are having a little problem you seem to be so far off the pace and that is what is happening here but nonetheless we will continue to work hard and hope for a competitive race tomorrow.” . Herve Poncharal – Tech 3 Yamaha Team Director “Fortunately today was better than yesterday so both riders are moving in the right direction and as usual Carlos and James have been working hard to find the best tyres to suit the conditions. It wasn’t the best start for the Tech 3 Yamaha Team yesterday but that has been the case for most of the year as we continue to develop the Dunlop tyres during a race weekend. Sure, this is not the perfect situation but we came into this year knowing that we would have good days and bad days. Dunlop have been working extremely hard to supply us with as many tyres as possible to give us many options so it does take time to narrow the selections down but we have lowered our times considerably and this gives us confidence for a good result tomorrow.”

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