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Capirossi, Harada and Ui steal the show at Motegi
Loris Capirossi ended the final day of qualifying for the Pacific Grand Prix of Motegi with the fastest ever lap of the Japanese circuit by a 500 machine and pole position for tomorrow´s race. The Italian Honda Pons rider is joined on the front row by Brazilian team-mate Barros, who qualified in third place behind Yamaha man Biaggi after an entertaining battle for top spot between the three riders. Biaggi´s pole run came to an end after taking top spot in five previous Grand Prix, whilst title rival Rossi was unable to launch a successful attack but will line his Honda up on the front row in fourth position.
´We´ve been working hard all week after a bad time in Valencia,´ said Capirossi. ´We changed the system a little bit and the bike has been working really well. This morning we ran on a race tyre but tried some different compounds this afternoon and in the last ten minutes I was able to set a really good time. Tomorrow will be difficult because the track is a lot more slippery than last year but hopefully we will see a good race.´
A mid-session crash meant that Kenny Roberts was unable to improve on his best effort from yesterday, although his provisional pole time was good enough to seal a final grid position of sixth. Roberts will start behind highest placed home rider Nakano in fifth and one place ahead of Suzuki team-mate Gibernau in seventh. The second row is a two-team affair, with Nakano´s colleague Jacque lining up in eighth spot. Japanese riders Ukawa, Haga and Abe qualified in ninth, fifteenth and sixteenth respectively whilst Suzuki wildcard rider Kagayama will start from fourteenth.
Tetsuya Harada came out on top in a thrilling battle for 250 pole with Daijiro Katoh. Neither rider looked likely to improve their provisional qualifying time until after the chequered flag was waved, with first Katoh and then Harada launching an incredible last lap attack to seal the front two slots on the starting grid and ensure an enthralling Japanese head-to-head in tomorrow´s much anticipated race. Melandri and McWilliams held their provisional front row positions in third and fourth place respectively and should be in the podium shake-up, whilst Alzamora and Nieto will look to stay with the lead group from fifth and sixth on the grid. De Puniet and Rolfo complete the second row in seventh and eighth.
Youichi Ui set a new pole record in the 125 class and is joined on the front row by fellow Japanese rider Azuma, who qualified in third place. Ui´s title rivals Poggiali and Elias line up in second and fourth respectively after a crash strewn final qualifying session in which San Marino rider Poggiali´s pole attack was spoiled by a fast lap tumble in the dying minutes. Cecchinello was all set for his twelfth front row start of the season until a late raid from Azuma which pushed him down to fifth place on the grid. Poggiali´s fall also brought down Hules, taking the crash total to nine after spectacular efforts from Pablo Nieto (twice), Olive, Nieto Jr., Bataille, Sanna and Perugini.
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