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West Honda Pons

West Honda Pons

The West Honda Pons team made a superb start to the Pacific Grand Prixof Motegi in Japan by finishing on the provisional front row of the gridafter the first qualifying session on Friday afternoon. On the dry trackfollowing heavy morning rain, Barros raced into second place on hisfinal qualifying lap round the 4.801kms Motegi circuit situated 100 kms northof Tokyo. His team-mate Loris Capirossi was equally happy to finish thirdfastest after spending the one hour session testing set-up and tyres forthe 25 lap race on Sunday. World Champion Kenny Roberts, who is chasing a hat trick of MotoGP 500 wins at Motegi, led the way on the Suzuki with Italian Yamaha rider Max Biaggi completing the provisional front row. Championship leader ValentinoRossi, who leads Biaggi in the Championship by 42 points, was fifth fastest despite almost crashing from his Honda in the early stages.

´ We are mainly trying things out for next year already and so this wasa good session for me and the team,´ said Roberts, who has won the MotoGP 500race at Motegi for the last two years.´ I also went well in the wet morning practice session and so I don´t mind what the conditions will be for the race as long as they get me on the podium.´

Barros and then Capirossi led the way in the early stages before Rossi took over after 13 minutes. Twenty minutes later Barros and Capirossi were back at the front as the pace hotted-up. With 17 minutes remaining Biaggi was at the front but four minutes later Roberts led for the first time only to be overtaken by Capirossi with just three minutes remaining. The Suzuki rider fought back and grabbed provisional pole moments later.

Barros found a good set-up in the last five minutes and was flying. Onhis very last lap he moved into second place, just 0.063 seconds behind Robertswith Capirossi a further 0.197 adrift in third place. Valencia Grand Prix winner Sete Gibernau qualified seventh fastest and the second row was completed by Noriyuki Haga and Shinya Nakano. British Honda rider Leon Haslam crashed without injury in the closing stages.

ALEX BARROS second. ´You get very good grip at Motegi which helped inthe conditions after the rain in the morning. I had some front endchattering problems and then in the last five minutes we found a really good set-up and I was able to improve my laps and finally finish second fastest. It was a shame the session had to end but I´m sure we can go faster tomorrow.´

LORIS CAPIROSSI third.´ I´m very happy after that first session because I was able to test many tyres which are so important round here. I have already chosen my tyres for the race after being able to complete some consistent fast laps. I could have gone faster but this was a good testing day for us. We had no problems and I´m very happy.´

500cc, 2001

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