Ducati driver Loris Capirossi claimed the pole today in Losail International Circuit for the Grand Prix of Qatar, the 14th round of Moto GP. The Italian rider had a close qualifying session with Sete Gibernau to claim his third consecutive pole. Newly crowned MotoGP champion, Valentino Rossi, completed the front row.
"This is a difficult track for us but we made quite a good job during the practice. I am very happy with this pole position, especially because it's not so easy to overtake at this track", commented Capirossi.
The Ducati driver set a time of 1:56.917 and Gibernau was just 0.077 seconds adrift in his Movistar Honda . The Spaniard was the only one that could fight for the pole head to head with Loris, as Valentino ended the session 0.366 seconds behind his countryman.
The Italian didn't hide his happiness for the third consecutive session: "Three in a row -- it's incredible, I'm so happy! Once again we've worked well since we got here. The bike and tyre package is really good now, which helps us to prepare for the race".
The time set by Capirossi broke -- by two seconds -- the record that his current teammate, Carlos Checa, had set last year astride a Movistar Honda in 2004.
The pole winner analysed whay might happen on tomorrow's race, where the heat and the tyres may play a heavy role, as it was last week in Malaysia.
"It's important to be on pole here because it's so difficult to pass. Race distance is no problem for me in this heat, but for everyone it will be difficult on tyre life. I will try my best and we will see what happens...", he explained.
Gibernau completed a good job in his aim of repeat last year victory in Losail. The Spaniard was the only rider to fight the pole with Capirossi.
"Yesterday we went in the wrong direction in the afternoon session but today we got back on the right track. We did a great job to prepare for the race in the final session and even though we start an hour later tomorrow, the tyres and the setting are already decided", Sete commented.
Gibernau's pace during today's practice session allows him to stay confident for Sunday and try to return to podium, and even maybe fight for the victory. ""I was able to set a good rhythm, with quality laps, and even though I just missed out on pole at the end we are on the front row, which is important. Tomorrow the objective is to fight for the podium and get out of this hole at last. I'm convinced that when we do so we'll be stronger than ever", the Honda driver said.
After his fantastic job last week in Sepang, where he secured his seventh world championship, Rossi keeps showing his talent with the Yamaha, in spite of issues in improving his setup for the race.
"We are not at 100% but anyway it is okay and we are on the front row so that is important. The grip is much better than last year and now it seems the track is more normal. In these conditions it is possible to push the bike to the limit, so hopefully it stays like this for tomorrow's race and for sure it will be a good show for everybody", the champion stated.
The Yamaha team has worked a lot in last reces trying to get a better grip from the bike, and some of the results all now in the track. "My bike is also working much better than in recent races, we have found better grip on the front and the rear. Now the championship is decided so I am riding without any pressure, but of course I still want to win every race before the end of the season". As always, Rossi is big candidate to get the victory in Qatar.
Rossi's teammate, Colin Edwards, set best fourth in a great job for the former Superbikes rider. "This weekend everything just seems to work! Everything has been clear-cut on how to make the bike work better and we've done just that. We've been struggling a bit for grip lately but here it's great and everything seems easy!". The North-American will try add another podium.
Marco Melandri took fifth place after he set the quickest time in the morning free practice session and still riding with 35 stitches in the foot injury he sustained in a crash with Rossi at Motegi less than two weeks ago.
"From a physical point of view I am better. I've started to put more force on the footpeg and it hurts a little more but the doctors at the Clinica Mobile are looking after me and I know I'll be in good shape for the race", commented the Italian.
Kawasaki's rider Olivier Jacque will take no further part in this weekend's Grand Prix of Qatar, after sustaining an injury to his lower back in a crash during yesterday's opening free practice session. The French was in replace of Alex Hoffman, also injured in Motegi.