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Hopkins storms to provisional pole at Motegi

Hopkins storms to provisional pole at Motegi

Hopkins storms to provisional pole at Motegi

John Hopkins topped a MotoGP qualifying session for the first time in his career today with a stunning provisional pole position for the Camel Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi.

The Suzuki rider is in the form of his life, having clinched his highest grid and race positions at Estoril two weeks ago with sixth place in both instances, and today proved too much for current World Champion Valentino Rossi, who could only manage the second fastest time.

Hopkins and Rossi, riding the Yamaha, led an anti-Honda cavalry at the circuit famously owned by the Japanese factory, with Makoto Tamada their top rider in third place and completing the provisional front row. Tamada had looked closest to dislodging Hopkins at the top of the time sheets but ended up 0.420 seconds adrift after a hot lap from the youngster four minutes from the end left him clear of his rivals and out of touch of a late attempt from Rossi.

Whilst Tamada's team-mate Max Biaggi qualified fourth fastest, Loris Capirossi made it four factories in the top five on the Ducati. Kenny Roberts, partner to Hopkins at Suzuki, clinched the final second row spot in sixth place, meaning the next highest Honda was Alex Barros in seventh, followed closely by his team-mate Nicky Hayden, who was riding for the first time since breaking his collarbone in a supermoto crash three weeks ago.

Sete Gibernau had a tough first day as he continues his quest to recover ground on Rossi at the top of the championship, qualifying tenth fastest behind Troy Bayliss. Colin Edwards was eleventh fastest ahead of Marco Melandri, who completes the provisional fourth row.

Carlos Checa, the fastest man in the morning free practice, crashed twice in the afternoon but was uninjured and qualified in thirteenth place.


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