Loris Capirossi rode a determined race at Motegi, bringing his Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici home in ninth place in a difficult race which saw his team-mate Troy Bayliss eliminated at the first turn.

Italian Capirossi had qualified on the second row of the grid and learned much during the gruelling race around this stop-and-go track where braking performance is primordial.

"That was a very hard race," said the Italian who maintains fourth place in the World Championship. "The bike wasn't perfect for this track, but this is a learning year for us, so today was positive in terms of experience because we learned so much. The bike wasn't as stable on the brakes as I would've liked. We only had four sessions to find the right set-up and this time we didn't find it. However, I'd say that we are generally very competitive - at Rio we had a great set-up but had a minor technical problem in the race, here we just didn't find the set-up."

The 13th round of the 2003 championship was always going to be a challenging event for Ducati because the Italian-based crew had never even seen the Honda-owned circuit before arriving earlier in the week.

But the squad takes away vital know-how from the past three days and leaves Motegi happy that this is the last time it will have to go into a race with zero track knowledge.

"This was the last new track for us, so now we've some knowledge of every MotoGP circuit, which is important," said technical director Corrado Cecchinelli. "We weren't able to give our riders the best bike here, but sometimes that happens, and we mustn't be disappointed with today's race because it's all experience. Our guys couldn't brake as late as the other riders, something to do with the overall bike balance, and we have ideas to fix that. Braking is everything here - if you can't brake late at Motegi, you won't win the race."

Despite the disappointing result, Capirossi and Bayliss were cheered on their way by more than 500 members of the Ducati Club of Japan, who turned a section of the main Motegi grandstand bright red. After the race was over more than 200 of them took to the track, escorted by two Alfa Romeo GTAs.

 

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