The Ducati Marlboro squad secured the top two grid slots this afternoon for their home race, the Italian Grand Prix. In the sixth round of FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP), Sete Gibernau and Loris Capirossi set the pace for tomorrow's race to be held on the Mugello circuit.
To top it off for the Italian fans, local hero and reigning World Champion, Valentino Rossi, was third quickest on his Yamaha M1 in today's qualifying runs, and will complete the front row.
The Spanish rider Gibernau won the pole position with a 1m48.969 lap, a new record in the circuit, and his Italian teammate was only 0.089 off the pace. Rossi was just a bit over a tenth of a second adrift of the two Ducati aces.
"This is a very special moment. I know it's only qualifying but I still count this as my first victory with Ducati. I really needed something like this because it confirms that Ducati and Bridgestone were the best choice for me", commented Gibernau, who has not yet had a great race this season, but did secure a fourth place in Qatar.
Today's 1-2 in the qualifying session is only the second time Ducati has achieved the honour; Capirossi and Gibernau were also on top of the starting grid in Jerez de la Frontera, the opening round of the year.
"I'd like to dedicate this pole to everyone at Ducati, both here and back at the factory, because they always give it everything they've got. Bridgestone are amazing too, because they're giving me incredible support", the pole winner said.
"Pole is important but maybe more important than that is the way these guys work with me - they treat me better than I've ever been treated before, so a big thanks to them", added the Spaniard.
Despite the race pace which will be important to win, Gibernau has tomorrow a big chance to take at least his first podium riding the Desmosedici.
Italian Capirossi is on the front row for the third time this season, having been on the pole in Jerez and in second grid slot in Doha. He will try to get back his lead in the standings that he lost to Hayden a couple of rounds ago.
"Today was interesting. We started this afternoon with a race setup and I did 12 laps at a good rhythm, including one 49.8 lap. That's not bad and we'll be even better if tomorrow is a bit warmer. Then I tried some new qualifying tyres that I'd never tried before", Capirossi stated.
The Jerez round winner this year explained one of the keys for Sunday`s race in Mugello: "It will be very important to get a good start and use full gas from the beginning, because when the tyres begin to go off, whoever is in front should be able to maintain their advantage", remarked the Italian.
It's the year's best result on a Saturday so far for Rossi, who arrived in Mugello after two DNFs in the last two races and the urge of a victory to stay in the fight for the 2006 title.
"It is a good feeling to be back on the front row - I don't think I've been there since Phillip Island last year so it is a long time and I'm glad it came here at Mugello", Rossi said.
"For sure this is one of my favourite tracks and with all my fans, family and friends here I really want to get a good result", remarked the seven times World Champion.
The Italian expects a good race starting from the front row, his highest position on a Saturday this year was sixth in Qatar which was the only competition he took the victory in so far this season.
"The front row is important for this because in the past few races I have had to fight really hard at the start of the race to pass riders so hopefully I can get a better start tomorrow", commented Rossi. "We're not on pole but Michelin and Yamaha have worked really hard to improve our performance on a qualifying tyre and this is a big step forward. Anyway my race pace is quite good so I hope to give my fans a lot of reasons for a party tomorrow night".
The objective is right there for him and his fans.
Standings leader, Nicky Hayden, appeared in fourth position as the best between the Honda competitors and will have alongside him in the second row for the race start, Kawasaki's racer Shinya Nakano with Marco Melandri, winner two weeks ago in the French GP.
Top ten places were earned by John Hopkins in sixth with a Rizla Suzuki and the young Spaniard Dani Pedrosa on the second bike for the Repsol Honda team. Aussie rider Casey Stoner and Makoto Tamada completed the top ten places on the grid.
The activity for Sunday related to MotoGP opens with the warm up at 9.45 waiting for the main event with the `Gran Premio D`Italia Alice` taking place at 14.00, local time.