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Nakano happy with clean run

Nakano happy with clean run

Nakano happy with clean run

Shinya Nakano expressed his delight after a sensational lap at the end of the final qualifying session propelled him to the second row of the grid for the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qater. Nakano carved four seconds off his time from first qualifying to go within 0.24 seconds of pole position and seal his third second row start of the season, backing up his fifth place qualifying efforts at Assen and the Sachsenring.

"After yesterday I would have been happy to be on third row today, so going to fifth place is much better than my target," said Nakano. "I was much more confident with the front end and spent a lot of time trying to understand the conditions; it is like racing on a wet track with just a dry racing line.

"To make a fast lap here it helps to follow someone, because it is difficult to judge the braking markers. On my final lap I had a very good run behind Alex Barros. I'm very confident with my race set-up, but the start will be the most important part of the race, as trying to overtake here is almost impossible."

Nakano's Fuchs Kawasaki team-mate, Alex Hofmann has set himself a massive task for the race by qualifying 18th, after a frustrating session in heat wave conditions with track temperatures officially reaching 58 degrees.

Despite set-up changes to improve rear end grip, Hofmann was unable to go any faster on a soft qualifying tyre than his standard race tyre set-up. His consistent speed on a race set-up is a positive for the race, but not so his starting spot on the sixth row.

"This is not the result I was looking for - 18th on the grid at this track and in these conditions is going to make the race very difficult," commented Hofmann. "Overtaking will be tough, the dust and dirt gives you virtually no grip if you run wide.

"Today I just couldn't get any extra speed out of my qualifying tyre compared to race tyres, it is very frustrating and hopefully there is a set-up solution for the race. I was sliding more on the soft qualifier than the race tyre, which probably made for great photos but not a fast time."

Team Manager Harald Eckl, meanwhile, is confident the German rookie can join Nakano in the fight for points. "This is a great qualifying performance by Shinya, coming as it has just two weeks after his podium in the Japanese Grand Prix," said Eckl.

"He did a fantastic job, and from the second row he has an excellent chance in the race with overtaking being so difficult. Alex also has good pace on race tyres, but today he paid the penalty for not maximising the speed from the qualifying tyres - although I think he can join Shinya in the points in the race.

"It's going to be tough, but I think we have a good bike and tyre package for these conditions."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, QP2, Shinya Nakano

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