Ducati Marlboro riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss will start tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after strong rides in this afternoon's final qualifier at Phillip Island.

In unusually warm conditions the pair ended the session second and fourth quickest, giving the team high hopes of running up front in the race, the penultimate round of the 2003 MotoGP World Championship.

"I'm very satisfied because today's sessions have confirmed that the bike is behaving well over race distance," said second fastest Capirossi, 0.458secs from Valentino Rossi. "I used the same rear tyre throughout the final session and I ran a good race pace, only fitting a qualifying tyre at the very end.

"The fact that both Troy and I are on the front row here confirms that the bike has improved a great deal since we tested here ten months ago," added the Italian. "I'd like to thank the team because they've worked so well this weekend. I think we can use what we've done here as a reference point, a direction in which to work for the future. I have only one worry for tomorrow - that it will rain..."

Bayliss had a more eventful session, scaring the home fans when he fell at high-speed while negotiating Lukey Heights midway through the hour. Undaunted, he returned to take fourth on the grid for tomorrow's 27 lap race.

"The crash happened when I was testing a harder front tyre - I was trying hard, the conditions were a little windier today, so it didn't work out," shrugged Bayliss, now nursing minor grazes and bruises.

"This is the first time in a while that I've been up front in qualifying and I'm feeling pretty good," he added. "My race pace is good, not as good as some guys but I think we should go all right tomorrow.. And maybe I could've been a bit quicker on my run with a qualifying tyre but I'd used the tyre by the time I got to the last two lefts."

"I want to finish in front of Hayden and Ukawa to help me in the championship, anything more than that will be a bonus," he once again stated, not that the thousands of 'Baylisstic' fans lining the circuit believe that for a second - they want to see their boy on the podium tomorrow come rain or shine.

"We're very happy because both our riders have a good race pace and they're both on the front row, which is where we need to be," added technical director Corrado Cecchinelli. "This is the toughest track for tyres, it's especially hard on the left side, so this is the kind of place where you can't choose your race tyre based purely upon performance. Both Loris and Troy used the last hour to test race tyres with their bikes set the same as this morning. Both did more than half-distance endurance runs, then when we felt we could get pole, both had a go on qualifiers."



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