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Capirossi takes second consecutive pole at Sepang

Capirossi takes second consecutive pole at Sepang

Capirossi takes second consecutive pole at Sepang

Loris Capirossi took his second pole position in just seven days as he stormed to the top of the time sheets once more in today's single qualifying session for the Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Capirossi's time of 2'01.731 was a new pole record at the Sepang circuit and signified a repeat of his grid position from the previous round at Motegi last Sunday. The Ducati rider is again joined on the front row by Suzuki's John Hopkins on another memorable day for tyre manufacturers Bridgestone, who took five of the top seven positions.

"The track conditions this weekend are very different to when we tested in the winter and I think everybody has struggled a little bit," said Capirossi. "Thankfully for us Bridgestone have brought an excellent tyre and it really helped. The lap time was good and also my race consistency is not so bad. I am confident because we have found a good setting for the bike. The improvement Bridgestone have made with the tyres since Brno means we are now seeing the true potential of the Ducati. It will be a long, hot race but I am ready."

Sete Gibernau was the fastest Michelin rider today, breaking the Bridgestone hegemony with the second fastest time of the day on the Honda and securing a front row start between Capirossi and Hopkins. Kawasaki rider Shinya Nakano equalled his best qualifying performance of the season to clinch fourth place and head up the second row ahead of Kenny Roberts and Nicky Hayden, who dislodged Valentino Rossi with his final lap.

Rossi, who can lift the title tomorrow by finishing within twelve points of Max Biaggi, will start from the third row after struggling with the set-up of his Yamaha for the second successive race. The Italian lapped 0.6 seconds slower than the time he set in qualifying for last year's race and faces an uphill battle as he aims to clinch the title with a victory, as he has done for the past four seasons.

The only consolation for Rossi was that his only remaining title rival, Max Biaggi, was also in trouble today and could only qualify at the back of the fourth row. Despite his problems Biaggi was one of twelve riders within the circuit record time of 2'03.253 today, Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri dipping under the 2'03 mark as they claimed third row starts. Melandri's performance was particularly impressive, the youngster riding with 35 stitches in his foot after injuring himself in Japan.

Shane Byrne struggled to make progress with a qualifying tyre after showing decent pace on race rubber, qualifying 18th fastest in his first appearance for Honda as a replacement for Troy Bayliss. Olivier Jacque, replacing the injured Alex Hofmann, qualified in 13th place on the Kawasaki.


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