American John Hopkins took his first-ever provisional pole position for Sunday's Japanese GP at Motegi. John Hopkins. Photo by Richard Sloop. In anticipation of what will be the "David vs. Goliath" battle between world champion ...
American John Hopkins took his first-ever provisional pole position for Sunday's Japanese GP at Motegi.
In anticipation of what will be the "David vs. Goliath" battle between world champion Valentino Rossi and motorcycle manufacturing giant Honda Racing Corporation, Hopkins decided to make it even more interesting.
Hopkins had a consistent qualifying session in the top five, so his provisional pole of 1:47.23 was no smoke and mirrors act. His performance did not go unnoticed and even Rossi commented that "Hopkins rode really well". Rossi sits next to Hopkins just four hundredths behind, with Makoto Tamada in third place and a further four hundredths from Rossi.
Tamada's Camel Honda teammate, Max Biaggi, leads the second row just two hundredths behind Tamada. Biaggi's compatriot, Loris Capirossi aboard the roaring Red Ducati V4 qualified fifth, a big step forward for Ducati at a circuit where they struggled in 2003. The senior member of the Suzuki team, Kenny Roberts Jr., did not fair as well as his younger teammate and could only muster a 1:47.929 lap time, enough for provisional sixth place.
The third row is led by Repsol-HRC rider, Alex Barros, who is closely followed by his teammate Nicky Hayden just a tenth behind. Rounding up the third row is ex-WSBK champion Troy Bayliss on the second Corse Ducati V4.