Loris Capirossi contests his 200th GP this weekend, 14 seasons after he made his World Championship debut as a fresh-faced 16-year old at Suzuka, Japan.

As always the Ducati man was in the thick of the action today, running as high as fourth with seven minutes to go, before ending the day sixth.

"This afternoon's session was quite good considering we couldn't try any of the settings we wanted to try this morning when the track was wet," said the 30-year-old Italian. "I need a little more feeling from the bike, which I'm sure we'll be able to fix tomorrow. Sixth is okay for today, and it would've been better if I hadn't found too many riders in my way when I was doing my qualifying-tyre run.

"It's almost a year since I tested the Desmosedici for the first time here. All I can say is that it's now a totally different machine, it's all different and it works very well," added the tough Italian. "As for my 200th GP, it's been a very happy 14 years for me. For sure I plan to make it to 232, though I hope to make it further than that, maybe to 300! So long as I'm happy and enthusiastic, I'll keep racing."

"In race conditions we're not so bad, but we didn't make the best use of our qualifying tyres this afternoon," admitted Ducati technical director Corrado Cecchinelli. "To me it's always important to be on the front row on the first day when the weather looks unpredictable, and since it could rain tomorrow, I'm a little worried.

"But otherwise I'm reasonably happy, we showed some potential today even though we've only had one hour of dry track time at what is effectively another new track for our bike. We haven't tested here since last November, so the machine isn't the same as it was then. We've made no big set-up changes today, tomorrow we'll work on detail adjustments," he concluded.

Capirossi's team-mate Troy Bayliss was ninth fastest after crashing out spectacularly with six minutes to go.



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