Loris Capirossi put his Marlboro Ducati on pole position today for the thirteenth round of MotoGP that will have place in Sepang's circuit of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia. The Italian clocked a lap of 2:01.731 and left behind him in the front row...
Loris Capirossi put his Marlboro Ducati on pole position today for the thirteenth round of MotoGP that will have place in Sepang's circuit of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia. The Italian clocked a lap of 2:01.731 and left behind him in the front row Sete Gibernau, with Movistar Honda, and John Hopkins on a Suzuki.
Valentino Rossi set the seventh-best time with the Gauloises Yamaha. The Italian has a big chance this weekend of becoming the World Champion for the seventh time in his career.
Capirossi, former World Champion in 125cc and 250cc, took his second consecutive pole position, following the one in Japan where he later came up with the victory after two years.
"The team did a great job today, my thanks to all of them," commented the Italian. "We've had to work harder than we did at Motegi, because the track isn't in such good condition, that's why we're slower than when we tested here last winter", he said.
Finding the right grip was a matter of concern for almost all the field of MotoGP, a situation the poleman managed correctly. "We made many minor adjustments to the suspension today, just looking for more grip. My qualifying run went really well but I also did a lot of laps with race tyres, and I think maybe we're even better with race tyres! It's going to be a long race - this heat makes it tough for the tyres and for the bike", Loris said.
The time of 2:01.731, set by Capirossi became in the new record in Malaysia and was the only rider that could break the 2:02 barrier, leaving behind Rossi's fastest lap of 2004.
Capirossi will try tomorrow to repeat his victory of 1999 in this racetrack, racing in 250cc at that time. His best result here in MotoGP has been a second place in 2001.
With the always extreme heat of Sepang (close to 40 degrees C today), the tyres play and important role in the bikes perfonmance and Bridgestone proved they are in good road here by claiming top four places.
This is the longest circuit of the year at 5.548 km, with a different kinds of turns that require very completes bikes where the horsepower (for the 920m straight) and the brakes became in key issues for a good result.
Spaniard Gibernau reached the front row for tenth time this season with the Honda of the Movistar team. The 2004 Sub-champion finished his job today in pole position, but when the session was about to end appeared Capirossi breaking his time.
Despite second place today, Gibernau is not happy for Sunday race after all: "I think my fast lap doesn't really reflect the reality".
"Our race pace doesn't have winning potential and we'll have to work hard to find it tomorrow. We've got some problems that we didn't detect here in preseason and we can't get the best out of the engine", Sete mentioned.
John Hopkins managed to put his Suzuki GSV-R on front row although he might be even faster if some of the slow riders wouldn't complicate his pace.
"I've got to say I'm quite disappointed really because I want that pole position, but at the beginning of the day if I'd have known I'd have been on the front row I'd have been ecstatic!", he said.
Hopkins explains why he miss the chance of take his first pole position in MotoGP: "I had a really good lap going but it was my fault that I got held up with two other riders on my last lap - but that's what happens. I'm not going to worry about it -- it would've been nice to get the watch for pole but, ah well".
However, the good pace of his bike makes being confident for tomorrow in a competition where the consistence will have an important play.
"I think we're looking pretty sweet for the race. We've put in a lot of laps with the race tyres and everything seems to be going pretty well. We're able to run consistent throughout the life of the tyre and right now we are looking to get the best start possible - it's time to work on that podium!"
Rossi had a complicated journey with the setup of the Yamaha, but his difference in the standings allows him to stay cool for Sunday.
"We are having difficulties again. Personally it is a worse situation for me because I expected to have some problems at Motegi, but not here. Usually the bike flies here, both last year's model and the 2005 version! We have had a big meeting with the engineers and now we will try to find a way out of this", the champion stated.
This is a track that Rossi enjoys and in which he has taken two victories, including last season.
"The problem is mainly with the front. Out of twelve races this year we've probably used the same front nine times but then the problems started at Motegi. Anyway, it is not just an issue with the tyres. I followed Hopkins and Capirossi for a while but it was like we were doing a different sport. They were riding really well and I couldn't ride at all"., he said.
It was not all bad news for the Italian. Max Biaggi's 11th place in the grid, his rival in the standings, allows Rossi to be confident to close the championshoip deal on tomorrow. "Biaggi is also having problems so my only rival for the title is behind me. Maybe we fight together for sixth or seventh place!".
The Italian will share the third row with Capirossi's teammate in Ducati, Carlos Checa, and Marco Melandri, who will be part of the race despite the accident he suferred six days ago in time of the Japanesse Grand Prix, in Motegi.
Melandri is struggling a lot to keep the pace this weekend. "Every time I push down on the rear brake the stitches are stretched and it really hurts. Also, the heat makes the wound burn. I was hoping for a little more from the qualifying session. I'll try and give my best tomorrow but I don't know if I'll be able to stay on the pace for the whole race." The effort of the Italian is already a victory for him.
Former World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr. claimed fifth spot as the best between the North American riders, followed right behind by Nicky Haiden in the Repsol Honda.