FUJIWARA BATTLES PAIN IN FRANCE

Winston Ten Kate Honda's Katsuaki Fujiwara qualified on the provisional second row of the grid in this afternoon's opening qualifying session for Sunday's final World Supersport championship race at Magny-Cours. The Japanese rider is still in considerable pain from the broken finger he sustained in last week's heavy crash at Imola in Italy.

Qualifying was headed by fellow Honda rider, Michel Fabrizio, as Fujiwara's substitute Winston team-mate, Arie Vos, set the ninth fastest time at the 4.4km Magny-Cours circuit. The 29-year-old Dutch rider is standing in for 2005 World Supersport champion, Sebastien Charpentier, who is missing the Magny-Cours event through injury.

Ronald ten Kate -- team manager:

"Today with Kats it was just a case of getting him back into the groove after his big crash at Imola last Friday. It seems the speed is there already as he's not that far away from the front row but his left hand is still giving him some pain. He's being strong though, and I'm sure we can help him improve tomorrow to take a front row place on the grid for Sunday. I'm impressed with the performance of our own Flying Dutchman, Arie Vos. He quickly got over the initial 'wow factor' of joining the Ten Kate team and got on with the job this afternoon. He's really not far away from the top five riders and we'll keep trying to get everything right for him and help him get more used to the bike tomorrow. We asked Sebastien to give Arie some help and advice and he's taking the job very seriously. Even though he's not riding, he still wants to influence his side of the box! We don't want to put any pressure on Arie, but I think with Sebastien's help he could be the surprise of the weekend."

Katsuaki Fujiwara -- seventh fastest, 1m45.099s

"My left hand is very sore and painful and it makes riding the bike very tiring. All I want to do now is go back to my motorhome and sleep! I'll put some ice on the hand and keep it loose and hopefully we can improve the qualifying position tomorrow. I tried very hard in the last ten minutes of the session to improve my lap time but there were lots of riders crashing and yellow flags everywhere. I didn't want to push too hard and risk crashing as well because that would just make the injury worse."

Arie Vos -- ninth fastest, 1m45.378s

"Well, I'm certainly enjoying myself and the only problem out there is me, because the bike is perfect. I'm still learning my way around here and, looking at the sector times, it's clear I have a problem with sector two. The first and third sectors are no problem because I'm only a couple of tenths off the fastest guys, but sector two drops me down a long way. Sebastien has been really helpful and I rode around here on a scooter with him yesterday. He knows where the problems are because he knows Magny-Cours so well and he's very fast around here. I'll go out with him again later and study his advice tonight but I'm looking forward to tomorrow already."

World Supersport, Magny-Cours -- provisional qualifying times: 1 Michel Fabrizio ITA (Honda) 1m44.113s, 2 Kevin Curtain AUS (Yamaha) 1:44.177, 3 Fabien Foret FRA (Honda) 1:44.311, 4 Broc Parkes AUS (Yamaha) 1:44.770, 5 Javier Fores ESP (Suzuki) 1:45.027, 6 Gianluca Nannelli ITA (Ducati) 1:45.079, 7 Katsuaki Fujiwara JPN (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 1:45.099, 8 Stephane Chambon FRA (Honda) 1:45.327, 9 Arie Vos (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 1:45.378, 10 Johan Stigefelt SWE (Honda) 1:45.454.

-wtkh-