Tamada steals pole position for home GP

Tamada steals pole position for home GP

Makoto Tamada will start tomorrow's Japanese GP at Motegi in pole position. The Japanese Honda rider stole pole position from fellow Bridgestone-shod rider, John Hopkins, in the last minutes of the second and last qualifying session by setting a...

Makoto Tamada will start tomorrow's Japanese GP at Motegi in pole position. The Japanese Honda rider stole pole position from fellow Bridgestone-shod rider, John Hopkins, in the last minutes of the second and last qualifying session by setting a blistering lap of 1:46.673.

Makoto Tamada.
Photo by Fabrice Crosnier.

Much like everything in the world, fortune for some, is misery for others. Tamada's awesome lap meant provisional pole holder, Hopkins, was relegated to second place after he failed to improve on his Friday time. However, Hopkins's failure to improve should not diminish his accomplishment. This weekend was the first time ever, the young American has been consistently in the top three and more importantly, has qualified second for a GP.

Like Hopkins, Valentino Rossi, was relegated from second place on Friday to third after Tamada's blistering pole position lap.

Second row will be led by Max Biaggi who qualified fourth fastest. The second fastest American is Colin Edwards who managed a 1:47.821, 1.2 seconds behind the pole sitter. The second fastest Yamaha was Marco Melandri, who will be starting on the outside of the second row.

Loris Capirossi was not able to improve on his Friday qualifying position, and will lead the third row on Sunday. Kenny Roberts Jr. will be sandwiched between Capirossi and fellow American, Nicky Hayden in the third row.

The surprise of the weekend, other than Tamada's awesome pole position lap, is Sete Gibernau's failure to have a good qualifying session. Gibernau struggled on Friday and did not gain much speed on today, only mustering 13th place on the grid. This will play big into Rossi's hand, who leads the Spaniard by 29 point on the championship.

Tamada issued Rossi a challenge during Thursday's pre-race press conference when he said Rossi had played with him at Estoril, and that now Tamada would play with Rossi at Motegi. Tamada has nothing to lose in terms of the championship and will likely go for broke tomorrow. However, Rossi faces the dilemma of racing for maximum points, especially after Gibernau's terrible qualifying; or taking Tamada on and going for the win. We will find out soon enough.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Sete Gibernau , Kenny Roberts Jr. , John Hopkins , Makoto Tamada , Marco Melandri