Sete Gibernau appropriately inherited the pole record from his former team-mate Daijiro Kato at the Motegi circuit this afternoon, clocking a scorching lap of 1min 48.707secs to take the front spot on the provisional grid ahead of fellow RCV riders Valentino Rossi, Makoto Tamada and Max Biaggi at the circuit built by their employers Honda.

"It has been a very positive day considering that last night I had a bad fever and today I am still not feeling 100%," began the Spaniard. "We worked well in the morning so I put the same tyre on in the afternoon and maintained a steady rhythm in 1min 49secs.

"Towards the end of the session we put a soft qualifying tyre on and set a 1min 48secs, and obviously I am very happy it was enough for provisional pole," he added. "In any case, we still have to work on the bike to make it turn better in the apex of the corner and sort out the race set-up. Hopefully I can also improve my physical condition because if not it will be tough to maintain a good rhythm throughout the whole race."

Team manager Fausto Gresini was naturally delighted with his star rider's performance, at which was always going to be an emotional GP for the Telefonica team.

"I am very happy with Sete's provisional pole time. Obviously this is a very special GP both for him and for the rest of the team and, once again, we will give our maximum for a top result," he confirmed. "Sete has grown a lot as a rider and he is showing at every race that he is a winning rider. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done tomorrow with respect to the race, but you can't ask for much more than that one the first day."

Meanwhile, MotoGP rookie Ryuichi Kiyonari was a little disappointed at finishing eighteenth, out of 26 riders, at his home circuit.

"This is my first GP in Japan since I joined the team, even though I raced here in August at the Suzuka 8 hours," he said. "I am giving my absolute best, even though I was only able to lap in eighteenth position. I still have to find the optimum set-up for my bike and I am hopeful of improving tomorrow. My objective in this race is to finish in the top six and I will do everything I can to achieve that."

"As far as Ryuichi is concerned, he is also working hard," declared Gresini. "Even though he knows this circuit, it is his first time here with this bike and that is almost like starting from zero. I am sure he that he will improve tomorrow and that this will be a positive GP for him."



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