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Dee Cee Jeans Racing - West leads V-Twins in qualifying and impresses in wet

Dee Cee Jeans Racing - West leads V-Twins in qualifying and impresses in wet

Australia´s 500cc rookie Ant West has won the qualifying battle of the V-Twin riders and produced an impressive wet-weather performance in the lead-up to tomorrow´s 500cc Pacific Motorcycle Grand Prix at Motegi in Japan. West qualified fastest among riders on two cylinder machines by clocking a best lap time of 1-min 52.259-secs around the 4.8km circuit on a Dee Cee Racing Honda NSR500V. He set the time in today´s second and final qualifying session, held in dry conditions, and will start the 13th round of the championship from 18th position on the fifth row of the grid. However, in yesterday´s rain-affected opening practice session the 20-year-old from the Gold Coast was eighth quickest, after being second at one stage. It was the first time he had finished in the top 10 in a practice or qualifying session in his debut 500cc season. West, who has scored world championship points seven times from his 10 starts in the 500cc series this year, rode a total of 97 laps in the two practice and two qualifying sessions at Motegi. He improved his qualifying time by 1.568-secs today, compared to his best lap in yesterday´s first qualifying session. Loris Capirossi won pole position with the fastest qualifying lap of 1-min 49.800-secs on a West Pons-Honda, to head fellow-Italian Max Biaggi on a Marlboro Yamaha. World championship leader Valentino Rossi, also from Italy, was fourth quickest on a Nastro Azzuro Honda. West has made two previous grand prix starts at Motegi, in the 250cc world championship, finishing 10th in 1999 and sixth the following year. He previously made his racing debut on the circuit in 1998 when riding for the Japanes-based Moriwaki team. ANT WEST QUOTES: ´My best hope is if it rains. Yesterday (in practice) the bike was going really well in the wet. The weather has been dry since then, but this track is near mountains and forests so it won´t be a surprise if it rains again. It´s a strange track. It´s grippy when it´s wet, and in the dry also. We had some carburettor problems yesterday, but it´s much better now and the bike is easier to ride. I´m still having a little trouble with wheelspin when I stand it up out of the corners, but nothing like yesterday. The big change is the bike is running sweetly and pulling well, with good throttle response. After this morning´s session we tried to get a bit more grip, with suspension changes and that worked. The main thing is the engine is running better, and that makes riding it easier, and I can concentrate on set-up and lap times. I really tried to outqualify (Jose-Luis) Cardoso´s Yamaha, but I couldn´t quite make it. This is a stop-and-go track with drag strip straights. It shouldn´t really suit the V-Twins, but I´ve been pleasantly surprised. I thought we´d be way behind the four-cylinder bikes, but we´re not far off some of the factory guys. I´m aiming to be the top two-cylinder in the race, and maybe beat a couple of the V4s as well. If it´s wet I think we can do even better because we can get the power down better.´

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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