Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi will start from the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix after qualifying in fifth place today.
Capirossi (2’01.716, 23 laps) made further changes to his Suzuki GSV-R in this morning’s final practice session to get the feeling he wanted around the 5,548m Malaysian track. He started this afternoon’s qualifying in determined mood and was never out of the top six for the whole hour. His fifth place on the grid is his best qualifying since Mugello in May and gives the experienced Italian a good chance of going for his 100th podium during tomorrow’s race.
Chris Vermeulen (P14, 2’03.032, 23 laps) will have a much tougher job than his team-mate in tomorrow’s 21-lap race after only managing to qualify on the fifth row. He just couldn’t find the feel or grip he wanted to make a serious challenge higher up the grid. Vermeulen will need to use all his racing ability and get a good start in tomorrow’s race if he is to make a competitive challenge in his penultimate race for Rizla Suzuki.
Today’s conditions were slightly warmer than yesterday as the air rose a couple of degrees to 34ºC, but the track stayed at 52ºC. Valentino Rossi took pole position as he goes in search of the result tomorrow that would give him the world championship title.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is the 16th and penultimate round on this season’s calendar, with tomorrow’s main event getting underway at 15.00hrs local time (07.00hrs GMT).
“We struggled a lot up until this afternoon’s qualifying practice, because we were always trying to find the best solution for setting-up the bike. We changed the front a little bit for this afternoon and immediately on the first run I knew the bike was really working well. I am quite happy with my lap-time, because it was hot this afternoon and the bike worked well. My rhythm is good around here and I think that tomorrow we have the chance to start well and make a really good race. I am happy and I want to say well done and a big thanks to all my crew, because they have done a great job today.”
“It was a difficult and disappointing session out there this afternoon. We haven’t really improved on the bike from yesterday and it was hard work today. Most of the guys went a lot quicker on the softer tyres, but for me it was almost impossible to use it because I just couldn’t get the grip I wanted, so I carried on using the harder tyre – which we will use in the race – and that was a lot better. We know what pace we can run on in the race and we know our speed and potential lap-times, but unfortunately we’re starting from a long way back and it’s going to be tough.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It is amazing how things can change in just a few short days; the mood in the camp is now obviously a fair bit lighter than it was last Sunday evening! Loris did so well to come back from the situation last weekend and to push his – and the bike’s – limits to the full today. Middle of the second row and Œbest-of-the-rest’ status puts Loris in a great position to go with the front guys tomorrow and try to secure our best result of the season tomorrow afternoon.
“Chris has to be disappointed with the result, he’s better than that and as Loris has shown today – in these conditions and on this track – so is the bike. Over one second to your team-mate is a big gap and I hope that Chris comes out tomorrow with some fire in his eyes to show us what he can really do!”