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Repsol YPF Honda: Friday press release

Repsol YPF Honda: Friday press release

In pleasantly warm and sunny autumn conditions that welcomed the motorcycle Grand Prix paddock in South Africa, the Team Repsol YPF Honda stars were once again within the fastest riders in the 500 class. In a very competitive first qualifying session, which saw ten riders within only one second, Tohru Ukawa took sixth and Alex Crivillé eighth position. Honda rider Loris Capirossi repeated his performance of Japan, storming to provisional pole with a flying lap in which he distanced himself by half a second from his nearest challengers. But both Tohru Ukawa and Alex Crivillé are confident to to be able to improve their positions tomorrow and move up to the first row of the grid.

Tohru Ukawa: “My right ankle is still painful from my crash in Japan, but even though, I think I achieved quite a good lap time. My injury bothers me mostly in righthand corners, which makes me lose concentration, but I’m optimistic because this afternoon it was much less painful already. This circuit is complicated for a 500, it is very bumpy and the tarmac has little grip. Unlike to when I was riding a 250, the circuit seems to be very twisty now, with hardly any opportunity to relax. As far as the set-up goes, some of our front-end patter returned today, and this has been one of the things we managed to improve during the day. We will continue to fine-tune the suspension and to try tyres tomorrow, but we are on a good path already.”

Alex Criville: “We are all almost equally fast, there is hardly a tenth of a second missing to the first row of the grid. Tomorrow, we have to at least maintain our position, and even try to get onto the front row, if possible. I think that I put in a good lap time, the bike is well set-up and we only have to fine-tune it here and there. The circuit is very slippery and bumpy, and as there is only one fast line, it is easy to end up on the ground or off the track if you miss it. I think that the race on Sunday will be similar to the one in Japan, with a big group of riders sticking together in the first half of the race, and then some of them pulling away in the second part. We will do everything to be in this first group and to fight for the podium in the end.”

500cc, 2001

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