Ducati Marlboro Team rider Loris Capirossi scored pole position and a new qualifying record of 1'46.363 at Motegi, topping off truly competitive pre-race preparations in the best possible style. Carlos Checa also made advances in machine set-up almost throughout the day but was to miss the chance to move up the qualifying grid, and ended up ninth fastest.
Capirossi's front row start was his third of the year and the second in succession, after an early season third spot in China and another at Brno last month. Capirossi was also one of the most consistently fast riders on race tyres, after several long runs on the same rubber.
Checa and his crew concentrated their energies on improving both lap time and potential grid position, making great strides in machine balance and feel. Checa is confident that his pace on race tyres is better than his grid position suggests, and thus hopes for a good start to the 24-lap race on Sunday.
"I think we had a very good tyre, as everyone could see, and I think the bike and the settings were well balanced," said Ducati Marlboro Team Technical Director Corrado Cecchinelli. "I also think Loris put something special in from his side to make such a lap. Bridgestone has a good knowledge of this track and its surface and they have always been good here - but this is just a base. We were particularly pleased with our performance because our times were done on the new generation of tyres, and this is an indication that they have maybe really got a result which we can take to the next races as well."
CAPIROSSI FASTEST AT NEW RECORD SPEED
Loris Capirossi earned his first pole of the 2005 season on the same weekend as he confirmed he would stay with the Ducati Marlboro Team in 2006, presenting the squad with the perfect reason for celebration after the first two days of track action.
"I am very happy because I'm working really hard," said a satisfied Capirossi. "On Friday and this morning we do a lot of consecutive laps and the bike has been quite good, the tyres working very well. For sure Bridgestone have made a great job for this race in Motegi. I am quite confident for the race itself, but anyway tomorrow is a different day, as the race always is different. But I am ready to try to do my best."
CHECA IMPROVES TIME BUT TRAFFIC HALTS HIS PROGRESS
Carlos Checa found other riders on his line as he tried to improve his grid position in the last minutes of qualifying, and therefore did not get optimal traction when he set about a final attempt at cutting his time.
"We improved our time but just at the end I found traffic and I lost the lap when the tyre was freshest," said Checa. "I did one more lap but I had no chance. My qualifying is not my best so far and today we did a good job with the race tyres. We will see tomorrow if we can stay with the group and at the pace, and then we can see what we can do at the end. I just need to be in a good position after the start."
Source: Ducati Corse s.r.l.