Motegi-master Loris Capirossi believes he will be a force to be reckoned with in the Japanese Grand Prix after overcoming heavy traffic to qualifying a threatening sixth.
The winner of the race for the last three seasons, albeit on a Ducati, Capirossi is going for a quartet this year with Rizla Suzuki, but while he wasn't quite able to get the bike on the front row of the grid, he remains in contention just behind.
The Italian believes he could have been higher too had he not been baulked on his final flying lap, although Capirossi has confidence that the bike is performing better than it has done all season. As such, he is quietly confident of a strong result come race day.
“I think it has been quite a good weekend for us so far. I am a bit upset about the last qualifying lap, as I hit a lot of traffic and lost eight-tenths-of-a-second in the third section! I am really pleased with the bike and it is probably the best we have had a bike set-up for race distance.
“We hope that we will have the same conditions in the race tomorrow as we had this afternoon and then we will have to see what happens. I want to say a really big thank-you to all my guys and Suzuki because they have all done a really great job this weekend!”
“Loris pushed to the absolute limits in qualifying today and it was great to see his confidence back at a high level,” added team manager Paul Denning. “A front row start would have been nice, and it looked really possible, but a huge time loss on his last lap caused by traffic ruined the chance of that.
”Despite this set-back Loris pulled some time back in the final section and still managed to get a second row start. As he said yesterday it's going to be tough to win his fourth successive Motegi GP, but nobody on the grid will be trying any harder tomorrow!
Elsewhere, team-mate Chris Vermeulen was not satisfied with his 12th on the grid, despite the session proving his best of the weekend so far. Still, while the Aussie rider has not been a fan of Motegi in the past, but admits he is beginning to warm to it.
“That has been the best session of the weekend so far and Tom and the team have done a fantastic job to get the bike set-up for here. The race-tyre pace improved a lot throughout today, but unfortunately I made a bit of a mistake on my last qualifying tyre.