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Capirossi storms to new pole record at Motegi

Capirossi storms to new pole record at Motegi

Capirossi storms to new pole record at Motegi

Loris Capirossi demonstrated why Ducati were so keen to tie him down to a new contract for next season with a stunning lap time in today's final qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Japan. The Italian rider will start the twelfth round of the MotoGP World Championship from pole position thanks to his record time of 1'46.363, enough to hold off his closest challenger John Hopkins by 0.498 seconds. The top two riders on the grid are both using Bridgestone tyres, who celebrated victory in last year's race with Makoto Tamada, whilst Marco Melandri was the top Michelin qualifier with the final front row spot in third place.

"For me this is great weekend," smiled Capirossi. "We have worked very hard and I did a lot of consecutive laps on race tyres today. Bridgestone have done a great job for their home race and have given us some excellent tyres to choose from. Tomorrow will be a different day, the race is always difficult but I am ready to do my best."

Valentino Rossi missed out on a final qualifying lap as he crossed the finish line just three seconds after the chequered flag was waved. As a result hye lost the chance to improve his time and will start tomorrow's race back in 11th spot. It means the reigning World Champion, who will be looking to clinch this year's title on Sunday, will start from the fourth row of the grid, his worst qualifying performance since being sent to the back of the grid at Qatar last season.

Tamada showed signs of a return to his best form after a difficult season, challenging for pole before dropping to fourth place as Capirossi raised the stakes in the final moments of the session. The home favourite is joined on the second row by Max Biaggi and Nicky Hayden, with Biaggi needing to take at least eight points off Rossi in tomorrow's race in order to keep his championship hopes alive.

Biaggi and Hayden are two of six riders still with a mathematical chance of catching Rossi, although the more realistic battle between them is for the runner-up spot, currently occupied by the Italian. Sete Gibernau will be looking to turn that situation around and put an end to his recent bad luck as he starts from the third row, where he is joined by Carlos Checa and Kenny Roberts. Rossi is sandwiched on row four between Alex Barros and Alex Hofmann, whilst the World Champion's team-mate Colin Edwards had an even more disappointing day today as he struggled to thirteenth place and a fifth-row start ahead of Shinya Nakano and Tohru Ukawa.


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