Loris Capirossi will start from the front row
A torrential rainstorm in the early afternoon forced today's qualifying session at the Sepang circuit to be cancelled and prevented Bridgestone's riders from mounting a challenge for pole position in tomorrow's Malaysian Grand
The Sepang grid will instead be formed from the combined results of this weekend's three dry free practice sessions, the results of which place four Bridgestone riders in the top ten.
Ducati's Loris Capirossi will again front the Bridgestone challenge but must settle for third on the grid having not tried the softer Bridgestone qualifying tyres in third practice. His Saturday morning time and ultimate grid-determining lap of 2m01.167s was set in the closing moments of the practice session, during which he had conducted a long run on his selected race tyres.
His pace over this long run was consistent and competitive and underlined the potential of the Bridgestone dry weather tyres in Sepang this weekend. The performance of his team- mate Sete Gibernau gives further cause for optimism as the Spaniard secured sixth place on the grid (2m02.181s).
Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet will start from the top ten for the eighth time this season, the Frenchman securing seventh place in the combined practice standings (2m02.313s), but his team-mate Shinya Nakano will be looking to make his way up from 12th (2m02.832s) after focussing his work on preparations in race trim throughout all three practice sessions.
Suzuki will see its rider line-up in both halves of the grid tomorrow afternoon with John Hopkins the highest placed of the duo in a strong 8th position (2m02.453s). Chris Vermeulen, who has been suffering from a head cold this weekend, will start down in 16th (2m03.285s).
The Bridgestone team worked quickly and efficiently during the lunchtime downpour to prepare a wider range of tyres than usual in a bid to supply its three teams with sufficient dry, intermediate and wet weather tyres to combat the erratic Malaysian weather.
It was hard work for little gain after the qualifying session was cancelled as the afternoon drew to a close due to safety reasons after the earlier rainstorms.
Shinji Aoki – Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development:
"We had a good practice session this morning and were able to make good progress with our preferred race tyre. We carried out some long runs and the lap times appeared quick and consistent, especially with Loris who was able to run regularly in the mid-high 2m02 bracket over a thirteen-lap run. All three of our teams are looking in good shape in dry weather race trim, so we are hopeful for good conditions tomorrow afternoon. It was a shame that we could not demonstrate the full potential of the Bridgestone qualifying tyres in practice this morning, as that would have helped us obtain even stronger grid positions, but today's conditions were rather unusual and disrupted everybody's afternoon. With that in mind, we should be satisfied to have four Bridgestone riders in the top ten. On a final note, I would like to extend thanks to the entire Bridgestone crew for excellent work in preparing such a range of tyres at short notice before the originally scheduled qualifying time. I hope this hard and efficient work will be rewarded with strong race results for Bridgestone teams in tomorrow's race."
Loris Capirossi – Ducati Corse – 3rd on grid
"I am happy because I ran a consistently fast pace on race tyres this morning, including twelve consecutive laps inside the lap record. I have a very good package for the dry and if it is raining, it will be the same for everyone. I haven't had any problems in the rain so far this year, so I do not see why we should have any worries here."