Team Suzuki's John Hopkins was fourth-fastest in today's first qualifying session for Sunday's Malaysian GP, finishing less than half a second off the provisional front row of the grid after challenging strongly in both half-wet and fully dry conditions.

"It seemed as though it might rain worse as that session started, so I put on a qualifying tyre straight away and went for a time. The last corner was completely soaked. In the end, it dried out, but I'd have liked more dry time to go flat out," said Hopper.

"I did my fastest lap at the end on qualifying tyres again, and I was quite disappointed with my lap," admitted the Anglo-American. "I was trying too hard, and I outbraked myself at a couple of places. I definitely could have gone faster, so I hope it's dry tomorrow, then I can push for the front row.

"We have some work to do with the suspension, to improve the rear grip. Overall, I'm happy and things are looking good. I'm just hoping for a dry race," concluded Hopkins.

Temporary team-mate Yukio Kagayama, substituting again for injured 2000 World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr., placed 17th.

"This is the second of two races for me, and my first time on the latest bike and tyres," began Yuki. "At least I know the track, from three years ago. At Qatar I never did get a perfect feeling with the bike and there wasn't enough time to get it all right.

"Before this race I had a long meeting with my team staff, with a lot of talking, and they have helped me very much, with changes on the chassis and suspension side," added the Japanese. "Today I was starting to get a nice feeling. Now I can push hard, and I'm sure that during the weekend it will keep coming better, so I can keep going faster."



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