Capirossi on Japanese GP pole, looking to repeat

The pole position for the fifteenth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) is in the hands of Ducati's Loris Capirossi after the qualifying session at the Motegi circuit in Japan.

Loris Capirossi.
Photo by Ducati Corse.
Reigning world champion, Valentino Rossi, set the second fastest time with Yamaha, while Marco Melandri, winner last week in the Australian GP, catched third spot on the top Honda.

Capirossi, who was the fastest also in today's morning free practice, clocked a time of 1:45.724 to lead the field in tomorrow's starting grid for the Japanese Grand Prix.

"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", Capirossi stated.

"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", the polesitter finished.

The Italian repeated last year's pole position in Motegi, when he followed it up with the maiden victory for the Marlboro Ducati.

0.267 seconds separated Rossi from the pole in the one-hour session. He will try on Sunday to keep reducing the difference in the championship to Nicky Hayden, who hasn't had a good weekend so far.

"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", Rossi commented.

"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", the Italian finished.

Hayden ended up in seventh place with the factory Honda of Repsol Team, a day after the announcement of the new two-year deal between Hayden and Honda.

"I'm not thrilled about seventh and being so far behind pole position, especially after being on pole last week," the championship leader said. "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."

Tomorrow's A-Style Grand Prix of Japan will start at 14.00 local time in a race that is expected to have all the condiments of a classic MotoGP head-to-head fight.