Having threatened the established stars in every session so far this weekend, local hero Makoto Tamada looked like he might take his - and Bridgestones - first ever MotoGP pole position this afternoon at Motegi, as the Pramac Honda rider posted a 1min 48.245secs flyer to lead the field with less than a minute to go.

Although he would ultimately lose out to Max Biaggi by just a tenth of a second at the flag, the Japanese clearly has the measure of Motegi and said after yesterday's session that there was more to come - and so it proved. Tamada will undoubtedly be a factor in tomorrow's main event.

"I'm pleased about today's sessions: the soft tyres enabled me to make more than one attempt to go for pole and we were inches - just inches - from the top spot," he said with a wry smile. "We also focused a lot on the race, testing materials for tomorrow, and I think we're just about there: we've already made our choices.

"I'll be starting out with the leaders well aware of the rhythm I can maintain. The two most important things you need if you want to try to win here at Motegi are consistency and the ability to be aggressive. We'll see what the others do and then I'll try to put up the good pace - I know I can achieve," he warned.

Biaggi and Tamada will be joined by Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau in an all-Honda front row on tomorrow's grid.



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