Akira Ryo spent the first day of practice and qualifying for the ninth round of the MotoGP Championship at Sachsenring in Germany setting
up his bike for the race - and his confidence is growing.

After just two-hours on the 3.704km track that boasts a mixture of long straights, fast sweeping corners and tight technical turns, the 34-year-old
Japanese Suzuki rider is only 1.9 seconds off pole position in 19th place on the provisional grid.

Ryo is optimistic that he will improve dramatically tomorrow as he is sure the direction he is going with his chassis, suspension and tyre choice is suited for race distance. Today he didn't try for a single fast lap, rather he concentrated on stringing together successive laps at what is likely to be close to race pace.

The All-Japan Superbike Champion is riding a development version of the GSV-R Suzuki that is different from the bikes being used by Telefonica
MoviStar riders Sete Gibernau and Yukio Kagayama. Ryo's bike uses the same chassis that has been used at the last rounds by all Suzuki riders. At Sachsenring, the Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki team is using a revised chassis.

Ryo said: "This morning I was trying many things to set the bike up, and after qualifying I am confident that we are going in the right direction. The performance of the bike - suspension, chassis and tyres - is excellent.

"This track is much easier to learn than Donington or Assen and the surface is good to ride on - it is giving me lots of feedback. Today is the first day and I am happy with what we have achieved, we are in a strong position as we are moving forward quickly. The only thing we need to really work hard
on is sorting out the correct gear ratios. Then I will be able to attack form a faster time."

The GSV-R made its racing debut at the first round of the 2002 season, a full year earlier than expected. Ryo, riding as a wild-card entry at the first round of the Championship at Suzuka in April, finished runner-up in the bike's first race, despite atrocious weather conditions. He has been called in as a Team Suzuki wild card rider for a total of five races mid-season to speed up the GSV-R's development progress. He rode at Catalunya in Spain, finishing 11th, at the Dutch TT at Assen in Holland, finishing a credible 15th, and 13th at the British GP at Donington Park.
After competing in the German GP at Sachsenring this weekend, he will finish his time on the GP circuit at Brno in the Czech Republic in August.

Britain's Jeremy McWilliams took provisional pole position on a Proton, while Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki riders Sete Gibernau and Yukio Kagayama
qualified 15th and 16th. Kagayama replaces regular rider Kenny Roberts Jr., who is recovering from an operation to his right forearm in the US. Roberts
will return for the next race at Brno in the Czech Republic in August.



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