Qatar : Ducati – Day Two
Casey Stoner will start his first race for Ducati Marlboro Team from the front row of the grid after taking a thrillingly close second place in this afternoon's qualifying session with a superbly ridden lap of the twisting Losail circuit.
Loris Capirossi will start the first race of MotoGP's new 800cc era from the third row of the grid but feels he will be able to challenge for a podium finish.
Stoner, who was Bridgestone's fastest rider today, ended the session just five thousandths of a second off pole position. His speed on Ducati's new 800cc Desmosedici GP7 confirmed both his impressive pace in winter testing and the amazing performance of the new 800s, with today's fastest five riders all inside last year's Qatar GP pole time.
Capirossi was fast in race trim but his qualifying tyre spec proved too soft for the conditions, so he wasn't able to complete a full lap at maximum speed. Nevertheless the Italian was quick enough to finish the session less than two hundredths of a second off the second row.
CASEY STONER, 2nd fastest, 1m 55.007s
"Pretty much the whole day's been quite good, we had a real good qualifying session, I managed to do a good lap time, and this morning we did a really good race run, doing some consistent fast times. We seem to have been pretty competitive the whole weekend, in the top three, so I'm really happy. We did have a couple more dramas today, like this morning when I was pulling out of pit lane going into the first corner and the bike just went away before I'd even entered the corner. It was quite strange, we're not sure what happened. I'm going to go into tomorrow's race and do my best, I'm not expecting anything, I just hope things turn out the way I plan them to because sometimes they don't. I'm really confident with the tyres and the team and the whole bike, so I think we can have a good result here."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 7th fastest, 1m 55.
"I'm very happy. I'll start the race from the right side of the track and I think we'll be able to fight for the podium. I'm feeling confident for several reasons. We have a very good rhythm in race trim - I did a 1m 56s on my 15th lap with the same tyres - and today we recovered from a situation that could have been very negative for the tomorrow's starting grid. I chose a soft qualifying tyre which wouldn't finish a lap at maximum pace and in fact during my first run with qualifiers I almost lost control at the last corner and had to get back to the pit. Of course, with the new tyre regulations my second qualifying tyre was identical, so I asked Casey, who had a harder qualifier, if I could follow him to give me a reference through the first two splits. It worked out because I was very, very fast in the first part of the lap and when the tyre began to go off I slowed down, thinking only to complete the lap with the best possible time. Seventh isn't too bad and I feel really confident for the race."