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Hopkins heads Bridgestone treble at Motegi

Hopkins heads Bridgestone treble at Motegi

Hopkins heads Bridgestone treble at Motegi

Suzuki rider John Hopkins set the fastest time during a first day of qualifying dominated by local tyre manufacturer Bridgestone at Motegi on Friday. The opening day of the Grand Prix of Japan saw Hopkins follow up his impressive qualifying performance from last season, when claimed a place on the front row of the grid for the only time in his career, with a lap of 1'47.952 - over half a second inside the lap record held by Makoto Tamada.

"Suzuki have brought some new parts here, and added to that Bridgestone seem to have an excellent race tyre so I am confident of sticking the race out at the front," said Hopkins, who was one of six riders to crash at the first corner of last year's race here. "I am really looking forward to Sunday because I think can go well and I'm feeling confident of getting on that podium at last. The last two years at this track haven't been good for me here but hopefully that can all change."

Loris Capirossi celebrated a newly signed one-year contract with Ducati with the second fastest time of the day after dominating for much of the afternoon session. Meanwhile, Hopkins' team-mate Kenny Roberts was almost as impressive, lapping just 0.311 seconds short of the youngster's mark as he looks to convert some impressive performances in the wet earlier in the season into a dry result at a crucially important home race for Suzuki.

Valentino Rossi was the fastest rider on Michelin tyres, the World Champion clocking the fourth quickest time overall ahead of Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden. Rossi could retain his title this weekend and will be satisfied with his form today as none of his direct championship rivals were able to record a faster lap time than the Italian. Although Rossi has won each of his previous premier-class world titles with a victory, a similar result to today on Sunday would guarantee championship honours for a fifth successive season.

Max Biaggi was seventh fastest at the circuit where he celebrated victory two years ago riding the Honda RC211V, whilst last year's winner Makoto Tamada could only manage ninth place behind Marco Melandri. Alex Barros, who took victory here in 2002, completed the top ten ahead of Colin Edwards, Carlos Checa, Tohru Ukawa, Alex Hofmann and Shinya Nakano.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2005, GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, FP2

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