Melandri only tenth
Toni Elias will start tomorrow's Grand Prix of Japan from the second row of the grid.
The Team Honda Gresini rider returned to the top end of the time sheets with an excellent display at the Twin Ring Motegi, a track where overtaking is difficult
and a top grid position crucial.
Elias's fifth place is the fruit of a lot of hard work from his team. Alongside the mechanics, Toni has worked hard to resolve the tractions problems he has been suffering lately and this allowed him to get maximum performance out of his qualifying tyre.
It was a tough day, meanwhile, for his team-mate Marco Melandri, who struggled in qualifying today after being on top form in free practice yesterday, when he lapped third fastest. Marco will start from the fifth row and will have to make the most of the warm-up to improve the setting of his bike. He can count on a good pace, but the race will be demanding.
Today the temperatures were particularly high, registering 45°C on track and 32ºC ambient, with 45% humidity. Forecasts for tomorrow are predicting clouds and a 20% chance of rain.
TONI ELIAS (5th, 1'46"804): "It was a difficult session but we found the right way forward in the end. I'm happy with fifth place - it is very important for us and a good qualifying position was the first objective we set for ourselves this weekend. The team have worked really well and we'll try to make another small step forward in the warm-up tomorrow. I'm confident - I like this track and considering my physical condition I have to be satisfied.
I am still suffering from pain in my left leg and I have to say that this heat isn't making it any easier."
MARCO MELANDRI (10th, 1'47"136): "I've got a decent race pace but unfortunately tomorrow we'll be starting from a little way back. The bike was skipping around on a qualifying tyre and I couldn't get the best out of the bike. It's a real shame because it's really important to start near the front at this circuit. I can't say I'm happy but we'll keep trying. Tomorrow we'll try to make the most out of the warm-up and find something that can improve the bike and after that it's a case of getting a good start. I like the track but it's going to be a tough race for us tomorrow."