Chris Vermeulen fought through the pain barrier during Saturday's qualifying session at Laguna Seca to claim ninth on the grid for the US Grand Prix.

Vermeulen had suffered a huge highside at the end of Saturday morning's practice session that left the Australian with heavy bruising all down his left side, but thankfully no broken bones. Vermeulen will be chasing his third Laguna Seca podium in a row on Sunday.

"I managed to stay upright this afternoon for a whole hour, so that was a first for this weekend and the mechanics are also very pleased about that!" he smiled. "Firstly though, I want to thank my crew because they worked so hard between sessions today after I wrecked a bike this morning. The crew has done a great job and managed to get the bike ready for this afternoon.

"When we went out we made quite an improvement and took some big steps in lap-times. We still need to find a bit more pace to be right at the front, but the front feeling certainly got better today, although we are still looking for a bit more rear grip.

"I am a bit disappointed to be on the third row as I feel like I had the pace to be nearer the front of the grid. It will be important to get a good start and get right up there early on and work on things from there."

"Chris had a huge crash on a cold tyre this morning, which - unfortunately for them - was replicated this afternoon by Lorenzo and Stoner," said team manager Paul Denning. "Although Chris didn't break anything he is heavily knocked about and has done very well to get back out there and push as hard as he did."

Team-mate Loris Capirossi will start one place behind Vermeulen after making some substantial steps towards the end of qualifying.

"I think we tried to do too much in the first two sessions of this weekend and I felt more like a test rider because I really tested everything we had and we never really found anything that worked," reflected Loris. "Then, this afternoon, we went back to a more standard setting like we have used in the past, and we finally got a rhythm and improved lap-by-lap.

"It is still not great and to be tenth on the grid is not that good, but compared to where we were yesterday, and after this morning, it is a lot better. The thing is that we have really lost a couple of hours of testing and now we will find it hard to make any improvements in warm-up tomorrow morning because the conditions will still be a bit cold. I am really positive for the race because we have improved so much and we will have to wait and see what can happen tomorrow."

"Loris has had a horrible weekend up to qualifying and only managed to turn the corner with the bike's setting in this afternoon's session, confirmed Denning. "To come from where he was and almost equal Chris's lap-time - and get within a second of pole - is a good effort and if he can build his confidence on the brakes in warm-up tomorrow, I am sure he will be pushing hard for a good result in the race."

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