At season opener
Rizla Suzuki's has Loris Capirossi qualified in the middle of the second row for tomorrow's Qatar Grand Prix, as he recorded the fifth fastest time during this evening's qualifying session.
Capirossi (1'56.149, 18 laps) had already made his intentions
known by clocking the third quickest time in the final free practice session earlier in the evening.
He worked with his crew to modify his race set-up on his Suzuki GSV-R and is positive he has a good bike and tyre combination for tomorrow's 22-lap race. Capirossi could have been further up the grid, but was held up by four slower riders on his final lap and missed the opportunity of a possible front row start.
"It has been not too bad overall because we have improved a lot and went one second quicker than we did at the last test here. The bike is working well and we have found a good setting”, he said. “We worked a lot on engine braking and mapping today and the whole team worked really hard to make everything happen. We tried to use all the time to its best extent and we are able to confirm that the bike is much better here than last year. I want to thank the whole factory for all the hard work they have put into the bike for this year. I think our qualifying is not too bad, but the race will be very hard and we will need to fight a lot to get a good result!"
Team-Mate Chris Vermeulen (P8, 1'56.493, 19 laps) looked liked joining Capirossi on the second row, but a couple of tiny mistakes on his final lap of the session cost valuable hundredths-of-a-second leaving Vermeulen directly behind Capirossi in the middle of the third row. Vermeulen found the harder option compound of the Bridgestone control tyre to his liking this evening and is confident of a strong race tomorrow.
"It has been a much better day for us today. We really got the tyres sorted out today and we know what we are going to be running tomorrow. We will certainly be using the harder ones - both front and rear.
We found that the softer rear had a bit more potential for pure lap-time speed, so we saved a couple of those for the qualifying session”, he explained. “We were able to do three or four laps on each tyre and that suited me. It felt like the bike was working well and the last tyre was going really well, but I just missed doing a final lap by a couple of seconds. The lap that I did my best time on was not a perfect lap and I was hoping to get one more lap in and iron out those mistakes. Starting from the third row is a lot better than it was last year and I'll try and get a good start and stay with the front group and see what happens at the end of 22-laps!"
Today's qualifying was held in similar conditions to yesterday, with track and air temperatures both at 25ºC. Ducati's Casey Stoner will start from pole position with reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi alongside him.
Tomorrow's 22-lap race is the first round of the 2009 season and the only night race on the MotoGP calendar. The race will get underway at 23.00hrs local time (20.00hrs GMT), when both Rizla Suzuki racers will be aiming to get the season off to a good start.