Ducati Marlboro Team riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss rode their first laps of Motegi aboard their Desmosedici MotoGP bikes today, Capirossi impressing with fifth-fastest time in qualifying, Bayliss learning his way around the Japanese circuit in 15th.

"It's been a hard day, we've done a lot of work on settings to find a good overall balance," said Capirossi, who was just 0.072 seconds off the front row. "I'm not totally satisfied so far, we need to improve the feeling, but this is our first time here with the Desmosedici, and we have plenty of ideas for tomorrow, so I feel we're doing okay. This is not a technical circuit - you simply need a bike that brakes well and accelerates out of the turns well. We already seem quite close to the front-running pace on race tyres, but we need to perfect our set-up before we can use the bike's full potential on qualifying tyres."

Bayliss rode his first laps of Motegi yesterday - on a bicycle - before switching to his MotoGP machine for this morning's first practice session. Initially more than two seconds off the pace of his more experienced MotoGP rivals, Bayliss was less than two seconds down during this afternoon's qualifier, which he ended in 15th spot. And the Aussie plans to be closer to the front tomorrow, once he has made some detail changes to his bike's set-up.

"One track is pretty much like another," said the former World Superbike champion, shrugging off the demands of learning yet another circuit. "This place seems fairly straightforward, but we're not really where we want to be as far as bike set-up goes. The track is very much stop and go in character, but at the moment the bike doesn't seem to be doing what we want it to do. I'll sit down with my crew and have a chat about how we can get that sorted for tomorrow."

"Considering we've only had two hours of track time I think we're doing reasonably well," added technical director Corrado Cecchinelli. "From morning to afternoon we improved more than the other guys, but that's what we've had to do this year at many tracks that are new to us. This circuit isn't too complicated, there's nothing that makes it stand out from others in what it demands of the bike or the rider.

"Unlike Troy, Loris has raced here before, so he wasn't so far off the pace this afternoon. After this morning we changed gearbox ratios and various settings. So far we're not yet satisfied with the front end - both riders are saying that they've not got enough confidence to push harder, so that's our priority for tomorrow," he explained.

Significantly this is the sixth and last MotoGP track that the Ducati Marlboro Team has had to get to know this season during a GP weekend. From now on, Capirossi, Bayliss and the crew have a good knowledge of every current MotoGP venue.



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