Marco Melandri (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) starts the 12th race of the
season from the front row for the sixth time this year and the Italian star
will line up alongside John Hopkins (Suzuki) who qualified second fastest
and Loris Capirossi (Ducati) on pole. Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda
RC211V) heads row two in fourth.
Marco MELANDRI (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)
Makoto TAMADA (KONICA MINOLTA Honda Team)
In warmer conditions than yesterday's first day of free practice with the
track temperature at 40 degrees and ambient temperature at 31 degrees, riders
attacked the hour of qualifying with typical gusto - Tamada, who had been quickest
in the morning free training, especially.
With turn one having provided opening lap chaos at the previous two races,
all riders were doubly anxious to secure good grid position for this race.
And it was Tamada who topped the timesheet at the halfway stage of the hour.
Capirossi had proved he had the speed to make his presence felt at the sharp-end
of the grid and the Italian spent the session putting in consistent laps on
race rubber before snatching pole with an initial 1m
46.957 second lap. He would go faster still at 1m 46.363s.
Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda RC211V) continued what appears to be a late-season
rejuvenation by achieving provisional pole just after the halfway stage, but
the Roman did not have the impetus to get his time below the 1m 46 second mark
- only the front row riders did that.
Yet again the top ten riders are covered by just over one second - the grid
is close, as the majority have been all year. Max eventually finished as fifth
fastest rider and will start the race from row two tomorrow.
Hopkins was determined to stay somewhere near the front and after Melandri
had relegated him to third fastest with 18 minutes to go, the American took
pole back again with his team-mate Kenny Roberts briefly going second fastest.
With ten minutes of the hour remaining and super-sticky qualifying rubber
ready to fit, the grid order was: Hopkins, Roberts, Biaggi, Capirossi, Valentino
Rossi (Yamaha), Tamada, Melandri, Tamada, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V)
and Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda RC211V).
Alex Barros (Camel Honda RC211V) never got higher than ninth fastest and would
finish up tenth quickest. Tohru Ukawa, standing in for the injured Troy Bayliss
(Camel Honda RC211V) qualified 15th. Naoko Matsudo riding the Moriwaki Honda
RC211V starts from 18th place.
With five minutes of the session left, just 0.9 seconds covered the fastest
16 riders. Max went as high as second on the grid before Melandri knocked him
back to third, Hopkins then relegated Melandri to third, while Tamada's final
flying lap 1m 47.043s shunted Biaggi to fifth. Rossi could do no better than
Melandri, third fastest, said, "It feels nice to be back on the front
row. The bike worked really well over the last two days and we just worked
at finding a good set-up without worrying about the lap time. Tomorrow we'll
make some minor adjustments. It will be a tough race, but I've got a good rear
tyre from Michelin."
His team-mate Sete, who will start from seventh, on row three, said, "I
would have liked to have been on the first or second rows because the early
laps are key here. I've just got to hope for a good start and to be able to
run in the top five in the early stages. My race pace is good, but the early
laps will be decisive."
Tamada, in fourth on row two, said, "The bike has improved compared to
yesterday and the race tyres today gave me much more confidence. On the other
hand, the tyres used during the fastest lap gave me a strange sensation in
the last turns, but I can't complain seeing how today's qualifying session
ended. The front-end set-up of the of the bike is ready for tomorrow's race,
while during the warm up we'll concentrate to improve the rear set up."
"We're definitely getting better," said Max in fifth. "It's
good to be starting higher up the grid than usual. We still have a long way
to go to get to the front but the second row is better than we've had for much
of the season. We've worked very hard on the set-up this weekend and the bike
is definitely working better. It will be a big fight tomorrow especially with
the Bridgestone guys who are going very well here and went very well here last
Hayden, sixth fastest, said, "This afternoon's session was the best we've
had all weekend. Capirossi's really going fast - he set the bar out there and
made it tough on us for sure. After this morning we made a lot of changes on
the bike. What we found worked in the tests at Brno just wasn't working here
so we went back to what we've been running all season and things started to
go better immediately. I've got a lot more confidence with the front and we
picked up the pace quite a bit."
Alex Barros, who will start from tenth tomorrow, said, "We have discovered
that the forks I have been using all weekend had a small internal defect which
stopped us from getting the front-end set-up right. At least we know why now.
So tomorrow morning we will try some more modifications because it's vital
to be set up right for braking here, so you can take speed off quickly and
overtake. This has also slowed down the tyre tests, so we still haven't chosen
the race tyre from the two we have singled out."
"I lost the front and crashed during the free practice," said Ukawa
in 15th. "It's a shame because I lost a bit of confidence when I really
had to push hard. That's why my time didn't improve too much. In any case,
tomorrow I will get a good start and give everything in the race. The tyres
have made a good step forward this year, but I think the times haven't been
beaten by a lot because the track is much bumpier."
Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) snatched his first pole of the
season here at his 'home' track and his brother Shushi riding another Honda
for the Harc-Pro Team qualifed third fastest in the 250cc category. Jorge Lorenzo
(Fortuna Honda RS250RW) starts from second on the grid while Alex De Angelis
(Aprilia) completes the front row.
Dani Pedrosa (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) has had a torrid time here so far,
crashing three times, and injuring his shoulder. He eventually qualified seventh
fastest after a gritty peformance. Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Racing Team Honda
RS250RW) heads row two in fifth and his team-mate Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing
Team Honda RS250RW) lines up alongside the Italian in sixth.
"At the start of the session we worked on engine settings," said
Hiro. " Then we worked through tyres and suspension for the race. I know
I have the speed to win here and I have to make sure that's what happens tomorrow."
Lorenzo said, "I made a small mistake on my final fast lap and couldn't
quite get the time I was looking for, but my rhythm is good here and I should
be able to run a fast race tomorrow."
Dani said, "My bad luck continues. This morning we were improving a bit
but I kept losing the front-end and I bashed my shoulder again. This hasn't
happened to us before, but at least this afternoon I managed to get onto row
Home hope Tomoyoshi Koyama (Ajo Motorsport Honda RS125R) qualified second
fastest in the 125cc class at his 'home' race behind Gabor Talmacsi (KTM).
Mattia Pasini and Marco Simoncelli (both Aprilia) were third and fourth fastest
Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) qualified seventh fastest and
will start for the second row. His title rival Mika Kallio (KTM) crashed, without
injury, towards the end of the session and starts from the second row too,
in fifth. Alvaro Bautista (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125RW) qualifed
in the top ten, in ninth.
"I'm very happy with this," said Koyama. "We made changes to
the gearbox, the gearing was too long to start with. Then I was much faster
and managed to put my fastest lap in tucked in behind Luthi. Tomorrow I will
race for the win, and hope to at least be on the podium. I will do my best."
Luthi said, "The whole team has worked to fix the front-end problems,
the engine feels good and the bike is fast - which is why everyone wants to
follow me - that's how Koyama set his time. I never got to follow anyone -
when they see me they shut the throttle. But the second row is not too bad.
I was lower than that at Catalunya but was in the lead at turn one."
Max BIAGGI (Repsol Honda Team)
Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
Marco Melandri, Movistar Honda MotoGP:3rd:
a nice feeling to be back on the front row. We've worked well over the last
two days, finding a good setting for the race without worrying about the lap
times. Today the bike improved and tomorrow we have to make some minor adjustments
looking forward to what will definitely be a tough race. Michelin have helped
me find the correct rear tyre and that has allowed me to take a step forward."
Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 4th:
The bike has furthermore improved
compare to yesterday. Also the solution of race tyres used today gave me much
more confidence. On the other side, the tyres used during the fastest lap gave
me a strange sensation in the last turns, but I can't
complain seen how today's qualifying session ended. The setting of the front
part of the bike is ready for tomorrow's race, while during the warm up we'll
concentrate to improve the rear set up. The race pace I obtained today is more
than satisfying and make me thing good for tomorrow."
Max Biaggi, Repsol Honda Team: 5th:
We're definitely coming better
and it is good to be starting higher up the grid than usual. We still have
a long way to go to get to the front but the second row is better than we have
had for much of the season. We have worked very hard on the set-up this weekend
and the bike is definitely working better. It will be a big fight tomorrow
especially with the Bridgestone guys who are going very well here and went
very well here last year too. I'll be riding, as usual, at 100% and will want
to finish well to keep my place in the championship."
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team: 6th:
" This afternoon session was the best we've had all weekend. Capirossi's
really going fast - he set the bar out there and made it tough on us for sure.
After this morning we made a lot of changes on the bike. What we found worked
in the tests at Brno just wasn't
working here so we went back to what we have been running all season and things
started to go better immediately. I've got a lot more confidence with the front
and we picked up the pace quite a bit. A big thanks to the team for doing a great
job - they really did their homework. We still have got some stuff to look at
tomorrow morning - the race will be hot for sure - there are a lot of fast guys
out there. It'll be a big one tomorrow."
Sete Gibernau, Movistar Honda MotoGP: 7th:
Obviously I would have liked
to be on the first or second row of the grid because here the first lap can
be the key. I hope to get a good start and be in the top five from the start
in order to have a chance at the end. My pace is good, we've worked well in
that sense, but the first lap will be decisive. We've been trying out a few
and in the end we ran out of time with the qualifying tyre but we have made a
choice on tyres and set-up. We're all very close apart from Capirossi."
Alex Barros, Camel Honda: 10th:
We have discovered that the forks I
have been using all weekend had a small internal defect which stopped us from
making all the tests on the front end, o better put, it made them useless,
because anything we tested wouldn't have given the right results. At least
we know why now though, and we have changed it, so tomorrow morning we will
try some more modifications because it's vital to be set up right for braking
here, so you can take speed off quickly and overtake. This has also slowed
down the tyre tests, so we still haven't chosen the race tyre from the two
we have singled out, because I wasn't able to do a durability test with one
of them. We will listen to what ichelin say of course, and we will try to make
the most of tomorrow's twenty minute session."
Tohru Ukawa, riding as substitute for Troy Bayliss,
Camel Honda: 15th:
lost the front and crashed during the free practice, and it's a shame because
I lost a bit of confidence when I really had to push hard. That's why my time
didn't improve too much. In any case, tomorrow I will get a good start and
give everything in the race. The tyres have made a good step forward this year,
but I think the times haven't been beaten by a lot because the track is much
more irregular and quite bumpy."
Hiroshi Aoyama, MoviStar Honda: 1st:
know that the result that counts is tomorrow but this pole at my home track
makes me very happy. We have improved in every session and the race pace I
have now is good. We have also improved the bike, especially in the suspension,
and I feel good. I am ready for a long and difficult race and I think Dani
will be up there. There is more pressure on me at my home race but it is also
an extra motivation. Hopefully I can be celebrating."
Jorge Lorenzo, Fortuna Honda: 2nd:
feel good after that last qualifying session. I had good rhythm and I'm only
sorry that on my best lap I made a small mistake which made me lose a bit of
time. Tomorrow I want to put on a good show for the fans and, if I can win,
I will give it everything I've got. Aoyama (Hiro) and his brother (Shuhei,
wild card) are very strong here, but I'm not ruling out getting away on my
own and lapping at the front. I am only thinking about winning and will continue
to until the end of the season."
Shuhei Aoyama, Team Harc Pro Honda: 3rd:
At the beginning of practice I
studied some riders like De Puniet, my brother Hiro and others to see where
they brake for the corners, how they enter the corners things like that. Then
I went to the pit to make some small changes to the front and rear suspension.
I did a few laps to check the sitting was good then put in a soft rear tyre
for my time attack. Everything went OK and I set third fastest time. I am very
Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Honda: 5th:
it will be probably a group race even if it will depend on the performance
of Pedrosa and Lorenzo. A good start and beware of the Japanese brothers Aoyama
will make the difference, otherwise they, helping each other, could leave everyone
behind! We have improved the performance of the bike compared with yesterday
and the free practice of this morning but I'm not satisfied. My bike lacks
stability in corners and I can't ride as I want. We have to make other tests
during the warm up because I can be very fast and I want to do my best tomorrow."
Yuki Takahashi, Scot Honda: 6th:
their home circuit the Japanese riders are always fast. The Aoyama brothers
are really good and fearful: I rode many times here with them and I know what
it means. it will be an interesting race! As for me I'm satisfied, I found
a good setting and I made many laps at the same high rhythm. It is very important
for the race. Tomorrow I will make a race as protagonist."
Dani Pedrosa, MoviStar Honda: 7th:
bad luck continues. This morning we were improving bit by bit but at the end
I crashed for the third time in this Grand Prix, losing the front end and bashing
my shoulder again. This has never happened to me before but at least this afternoon
I was able to complete a few laps and get on the second row of the grid, which
is important. With so many crashes and so much pain we haven't been able to
test the set-up. I'm obviously finding it hard to ride because I'm trying to
move as little as possible on the bike and that limits your riding. But I'm
hoping that I can get some rest tonight, that time stays on our side and that
I can have the best possible race tomorrow."
Hector Barbera, Fortuna Honda: 13th:
the end of the session I put on a soft tyre to try and lower my time but it
did not work and that's why I'm not better placed on the grid. But I feel as
confident as I have all season on the bike and with the rhythm I have found
I really think I have a great chance to score some big points. We'll see what
happens tomorrow but I have been concentrating on racing for 23 laps. The two
days of qualifying have been positive and I am happy with the set-up I've found.
I hope luck is on my side because I was well prepared at Brno but didn't manage
to finish the first lap."
Alex Debon, Wurth Honda BQR: 17th:
was not good to me today. On my fast lap the front end turned in on me a couple
of times and that cost me a little time. Still I have a good bike setting for
the race. The new parts we have improved the engine power a little and I have
confidence in the bike. One thing for sure, I need to make a very good start
if I am to make an impression in the race."
Jakub Smrz, Molenaar Honda: 19th:
so good today, I just could not get it together. On my fast lap I came up on
Cardenas and he backed off the gas - until I got alongside him then he accelerated
again and got in my way. I am half a second slower than yesterday but I know
the bike was very good yesterday and I'm confident that I will be fast in the
race. You an say it was a rider problem today, not the bike."
Dirk Heidolf, Kiefer Castrol Honda: 20th:
was better than yesterday for me. My grid position is the same but I was faster
and have a good feeling with the bike. I have a problem with the front end
when I let off the brake, the bike feels as if its running over bumps in the
track. The engine is fast w have a small problem with it but nothing we cant
fix. The first three or four laps of the race will be important. If I get a
good start I will have a good race tomorrow."
Radomil Rous, Wurth Honda BQR: 21st:
is my second time here at Motegi but I still find it difficult to ride the
ideal line on this track. The bike is good, in fact the chassis is perfect
for me and I have good power from the engine. I hope to take points from this
race but it will be difficult with so many fast wild card riders in the race."
Tomoyoshi Koyama, Ajo Motorsport Honda: 2nd:
very happy with this result from qualifying. We made a change to the gearbox
before the last session because the gearing was too long. I "was much
faster and I made my fastest lap behind Luthi with just a one-bike slipstream.
Of course tomorrow I will race for the win and I really hope I am on the podium
but Luthi, Kallio, Pasini and Simoncelli will be very hard to beat.Thomas Luthi,
Elit Honda: 7th: "The whole team has worked hard to fix the front-end
problem we had yesterday so I thank them for their work. The engine is really
fast and I have a good feeling with the bike for this race. My bike is fast
which makes everybody want to follow me in qualifying, that's how Koyama san
set his fast time today. The problem for me is that I never get to follow somebody
else to get a fast qualifying lap. Still the second row is not too bad. I was
lower down the grid than this at Catalunya but I was leading when we got to
the first corner."
Alvaro Bautista, Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays
I have kept my qualifying position
of yesterday and will start from the 3rd row, and looking back at this
year it is a good result because this is my best position on a grid. The
most important thing is that I have a good feeling with the bike, I feel
very confident in this GP. This morning we have made some tests, and I
think we have found the best options for tomorrow. Tomorrow it could be
another race in the group, so let's see if I can be there. Then, my performance
will depend on many things but first of all you must bein the top positions
to have options, and after that everything can happen."
Mike Di Meglio, Kopron Racing World Honda: 12th:
have tried different solutions in free and official practices, improving the
chassis. In general today we have made some good steps forward and starting
from the third row, with this Honda, is not a problem. A good start tomorrow,
like those I made so far this year, will help me to make a race in the front
Fabrizio Lai, Kopron Racing World Honda: 14th:
Lai, Kopron Racing World: 21st: "The bike is ready for the race but I
need to start very fast because I'm really far back on the starting grid. I
lost the right concentration and I have made mistakes in the official practice:
I didn't sleep very well last night and this morning I wasn't very fit. Nevertheless
I made a quite good free practice (8th). Instead, during the official practice,
I had problems riding at a good rhythm then I found too much traffic and I
couldn't improve on the time I made in the morning"
Sandro Cortese, Kiefer Bos Castrol Honda: 16th:
is my first time at Motegi and i like the track. You have to brake real hard
then throw the bike on its side for the corner and I like that. This morning
the bike was very good and in the afternoon the engine was really good. Pity
my rear tyre was finished in the last few minutes maybe I could have been a
Toshihisa Kuzuhara, Angaia Racing Honda: 20th.
Alexis Masbou, Ajo Motorsport Honda: 21st:
Masbou, Ajo Motorsport Honda: 21st: "I'm not so happy but not sad. This
morning I broke an engine and did not do many laps. This afternoon I was a
lot better and I'm learning the track. Despite my problems I am only half a
second off the points positions. We now have to concentrate on the warm up
to improve the bike more and my lap times."
Aleix Espargaro, Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays
Aleix Espargaro, Seedorf Racing:
24th: "I like this circuit, but it is a pity that I am having too
many problems. Yesterday I couldn't ride the second half of qualifying,
and today I didn't feel too comfortable on the bike. Despite this I have
improved my time by almost one second, although I think I can do better.
We still have a lot of work to do, and mainly try to improve in the warm
up. I will try to make a good start, and if the bike goes as I like, make
a funny race and try to score more points."
Takumi Takahashi, replacement rider for Raymond
Schouten at Molenaar Honda: 29th:
This is the
first time I have raced a kit bike and I feel OK on the bike. Every session
my lap time has improved so I am happy. Yesterday I ran a 2m 03.32s lap
time and today 2m 01.97s so I am satisfied. We have the warm up to improve