Tamada steals title feud thunder in Malaysia

Makoto Tamada stole provisional position for Sunday's Malaysian GP at Sepang. The Japanese took his Bridgestone-shod Camel Honda under the current lap record by setting a blistering lap of 2:02.394. The championship title feud did not sit idle, as...

Makoto Tamada stole provisional position for Sunday's Malaysian GP at Sepang. The Japanese took his Bridgestone-shod Camel Honda under the current lap record by setting a blistering lap of 2:02.394. The championship title feud did not sit idle, as the two contenders duked it out through the session. On the surface, the winner of the first round would be Sete Gibernau who set a lap of 2:02.629, seven hundredths of a second faster than provisional third place Valentino Rossi. However, looking at the lap-per-lap analysis shows Gibernau only did one lap in the high 2:05s, one in the low 2:03s and his provisional second place lap. Rossi on the other hand, did five laps in the 2:05 range and his provisional third place lap.

Both Gibernau and Rossi were content with their respective performances. "We have started the grand prix well. A good weekend starts with a good first day and that's what we had today. I don't want to get too confident but we have got off on the correct foot here. We still have a lot of work to do but we have a good base to progress from and prepare the race as best we can. Of course it will be tough, we were suffocated in Qatar and we won't get time to catch our breath here either. In any case we will have to get used to it because it is the same for everybody". said Gibernau. Rossi mirrored Gibernau's feelings "It was finally quite a good day. We had some problems this morning and I couldn't get the best from the bike. We have changed a lot of things since we tested here in February; the set-up is quite different now. But the work we did this afternoon went well. I made a good lap. I'm third, which is quite a good position and I hope to improve even more tomorrow morning. I only managed to use one qualifying tire, I hope to have the possibility to use more tomorrow. I feel motivated and concentrated and we will continue the set-up work tomorrow morning," concluded the Rossi.

Perhaps the reason the top qualifiers did not go any faster was due to the slight rain at the beginning of the session, which was enough to see several riders run off track.

It is important to note the performance of the Bridgestone tires, as Gibernau and Rossi were the only Michelin-shod riders in the top six spots.

American John Hopkins led the Yankee attack qualifying fourth fastest, just three tenths behind Rossi. Kawasaki's Alex Hoffman led teammate Shinya Nakano for fifth place, two tenths behind Hopkins, but three ahead of Nakano who qualified sixth.

Italian Loris Capirossi qualified seventh fastest with a time of 2:03.816. Last year's third place finisher, Max Biaggi, struggled throughout the session and only managed a time of 2:04.012. Second Ducati Corse rider, Troy Bayliss, qualified ninth fastest, but only two tenths behind his teammate and six hundredths behind Biaggi.

Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards struggled and could only muster to qualify 11th and 13th fastest respectively.

We will have final qualifying tomorrow, stay tuned for more.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , John Hopkins , Makoto Tamada