Bikes: Second row start for Capirossi

in Suzuki’s homeland

Loris Capirossi will start from the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix after recording the sixth fastest time on his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R at Motegi today.

Capirossi (1’46.450, 27 laps) looked strong throughout the qualifying session and was in with a chance of grabbing a front row start – or possibly even pole position – as he powered his way around the 4,801m circuit. Unfortunately the Italian star was hampered by traffic on his final lap and lost almost a second on the third section of the track, after previously being quickest over the first two. He is still confident for tomorrow’s race as he plans to continue with his enviable record at Motegi that has seen him record three wins and three podiums from nine visits.

Chris Vermeulen (P12, 1’46.904, 27 laps) had his strongest session of the weekend so far as he improved on his race tyre lap-times following important changes made by his crew. Vermeulen will start from the fourth row of the grid which is his best starting position at Motegi to-date. Suzuki’s Australian star is convinced that he will record his best result at a Japanese Grand Prix tomorrow and is determined to break into the top-10 and fight for a high-placed finish.

Kousuke Akiyoshi (P19, 1’48.671, 24 laps) had a tough day as he tried to find the best settings for his Suzuki GSV-R. He will be looking to improve on his grid position in tomorrow’s race and is convinced he can get in amongst the points.

Today’s qualifying was held in warm and sunny conditions with track temperatures reaching 40ºC. Pole position was set Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Yamaha.

Today’s race is round 15 of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship and the action for the 24-lap spectacle gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT)

Loris Capirossi:

“I think it has been quite a good weekend for us so far. I am a bit upset about the last qualifying lap, as I hit a lot of traffic and lost eight-tenths-of-a-second in the third section! I am really pleased with the bike and it is probably the best we have had a bike set-up for race distance. We hope that we will have the same conditions in the race tomorrow as we had this afternoon and then we will have to see what happens. I want to say a really big thank-you to all my guys and Suzuki because they have all done a really great job this weekend!”

Chris Vermeulen:

“That has been the best session of the weekend so far and Tom and the team have done a fantastic job to get the bike set-up for here. The race-tyre pace improved a lot throughout today, but unfortunately I made a bit of a mistake on my last qualifying tyre. If I hadn’t perhaps the time would have been a bit better than it was. It is the best qualifying I have done at Motegi and I am definitely enjoying the track a lot more, so hopefully the race result tomorrow will reflect that.”

Kousuke Akiyoshi:

“I am really struggling to find the best setting for my bike. We still have work to do with mapping and engine characteristics. We made some big changes and the feeling got a lot better, but we are still pushing the front tyre through the corners so we need to make some more big changes and I hope that will work. I am looking forward to the race and if I can get a good start I am sure I can get up into the points!”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Loris pushed to the absolute limits in qualifying today and it was great to see his confidence back at a high level. A front row start would have been nice, and it looked really possible, but a huge time loss on his last lap caused by traffic ruined the chance of that. Despite this set-back Loris pulled some time back in the final section and still managed to get a second row start. As he said yesterday it’s going to be tough to win his fourth successive Motegi GP, but nobody on the grid will be trying any harder tomorrow!

“Chris’s situation has improved a lot today and the guys have taken a big step with the bike. I think he has the race-craft to improve from his grid position and be challenging towards the front during the race. He certainly has the determination to do so and we are looking forward to a fighting performance tomorrow afternoon.

“Akiyoshi san has struggled today which has been a surprise to us and to him. Everything we can do to help him find his normal level overnight we will certainly do. We hope he can find enough so that he will be challenging for some points in the race.”

A-Style Grand Prix of Japan Qualifying Classification:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’45.543: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.288: 3. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +0.428: 4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +0.517: 5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.760: 6. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.907: 12. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.361: 19: KOUSUKE AKIYOSHI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +3.128: