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West Honda Pons the only representatives of the leading constructor to qualify in the top ten
In a season which has seen Honda claim its 500th Grand Prix victory, and 150 wins in 500cc, for the second time in two races, there is not one 2001 Honda NSR500 in the top ten of Sunday´s grid. Repeating what happened at Donington, Max Biaggi has also taken pole position, and lining up alongside him will be five other Yamaha bikes, including that of his teammate Carlos Checa. Following them and starting off the third row will be the pair of Suzukis ridden by Roberts and Gibernau, which leaves two positions, occupied by the West Honda Pons riders Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi, who have respectively won 3rd and 7th places on the starting grid.
At the start of the season, Sito Pons and his team chose to continue to use last year´s Honda machines and tomorrow´s grid seems to have justified that decision. Sito remarked after today´s qualifiers, ´Throughout the season everything has been working perfectly for us with the bikes. The main advantage is that not only does the team have confidence in the bikes, but the riders too. That is the reason we chose to stay with last year´s bikes, there is the added value of not having to develop the chassis and you can also have a great deal of confidence in it. I am really satisfied with it.´
It is only the second time this season that Loris Capirossi will not start from the front row of the grid, the only other time being in Italy where he eventually came second to his colleague Barros. The Brazilian himself has been on the front row for the last two races and this will be his third in a row. Pons stated, ´Our riders are just very consistent, one of the main advantages of having last year´s machines, you just have to keep up to them really. The two riders are constantly up there at the front of the pack, and I honestly feel that there is the possibility for victory in those bikes tomorrow.´ Rossi however is on the grid in eleventh place again, and on his 2001 NSR500, he simply cannot be written off.
17 years ago
17 years ago