Front row for Hopkins after Shanghai flyer Suzuki's John Hopkins has continued his impressive form around the Shanghai International Circuit by securing his second consecutive Chinese GP front row position with a flying second place in this ...
Front row for Hopkins after Shanghai flyer
Suzuki's John Hopkins has continued his impressive form around the Shanghai International Circuit by securing his second consecutive Chinese GP front row position with a flying second place in this afternoon's qualifying. Hopkins was only beaten on qualifying tyres by Valentino Rossi who blitzed the entire field with a lap of 1m58.424s, almost 0.9s quicker than Hopkins' 1m59.315s.
Current championship leader Casey Stoner put his Ducati fourth, the same starting position that he had at the last race in Turkey. Stoner and Hopkins's respective team-mates Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen were both unable to post representative qualifying times after becoming entangled towards the end of the session and will line up on 14th and 15th on the grid. Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri will start from the second row of the grid in sixth after his best qualifying result of the season so far. Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Pramac d'Antin's Alex Barros also excelled to take seventh and eighth.
De Puniet was one of seven riders to dip under the 2m barrier on qualifying tyres and one of seven riders to set lap times under 2m01s on race tyres in this afternoon's session. Twice race winner already this season, Stoner set the standard in race trim with a best time of 2m00.311s, two-tenths quicker than Hopkins' pace-setting time from Saturday morning practice and three-tenths faster than his nearest rival this afternoon, Rossi.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport -Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
What are your conclusions from today's practice and qualifying session?
"We can be quite pleased with our overall performance today both on race and qualifying tyres, but clearly there is a substantial gap in lap time between John's second place and Valentino's pole position result in qualifying. For that performance, our compliments must go to Rossi, Yamaha and our tyre rivals. However, we see one of our riders on the front row of the grid for the first time since Qatar and a further four Bridgestone-equipped riders in the top eight, which is quite favourable ahead of tomorrow's race."
How do you assess the race tyre performance?
"We have carried out extended evaluation of the race tyres following Friday's two practice sessions and have confirmed the performance and durability of different specifications. In long runs today, a few of our riders have been able to set times in the mid-high 2m0s which appears to be the pace required this weekend. Casey, John, Marco and Randy were all able to set such times this afternoon which shows that our tyres seem to be competitive with each of our four manufacturers' bikes, something that is especially pleasing for us."
Riding Perspective - John Hopkins - Suzuki - 2nd Place
"I am very happy with how everything has gone. We have been putting in a lot of work over the weekend, just working the race tyres as much as possible. Bridgestone has really done a lot of good work here and the tyres are working really well for us. The Suzuki is also working exceptionally well. We have been consistent in all practice sessions and have been running real hard, so right now we have to translate our hard work into a good race result tomorrow. It is going to be a long race and the weather is still a bit of an unknown quantity, but we have to be ready whatever happens and I am sure we will be."
Weather: Dry - Air 24C, Track 29C, Humidity 43%