Rossi was the third fastest Michelin rider around the Sepang circuit, lapping almost 0.6 seconds short of the pole position record he set here last year as the team once again battled to overcome set-up difficulties. Rossi’s team-mate Colin Edwards also encountered unexpected obstacles today as he struggled to overcome tyre problems, seemingly caused by the reduced levels of grip offered by the circuit in comparison to past years. The American will start from the fourth row of the grid in tenth place. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) will start from pole position for the second successive race and is joined on the front row by Sete Gibernau (Honda) and John Hopkins (Suzuki).
VALENTINO ROSSI (7th – 2’02.412; 23 laps)
“We are having difficulties again. Personally it is a worse situation for me because I expected to have some problems at Motegi, but not here. Usually the bike flies here, both last year’s model and the 2005 version! We have had a big meeting with the engineers and now we will try to find a way out of this. The problem is mainly with the front. Out of twelve races this year we’ve probably used the same front nine times but then the problems started at Motegi. Anyway, it is not just an issue with the tyres. I followed Hopkins and Capirossi for a while but it was like we were doing a different sport. They were riding really well and I couldn’t ride at all. It’s now two races that Colin and I have lost feeling with the front. The good thing is that Biaggi is also having problems so my only rival for the title is behind me. Maybe we fight together for sixth or seventh place!”
COLIN EDWARDS (10th – 2’02.805; 20 laps)
“For some reason the tyres aren’t working well here, we just can’t get any load onto the front end to make it stick. I’ve probably lost the front more times today than I have all season. We had no problems in the test here even though we used basically the same tyre. The track temperature is very similar so the only thing we can put it down to is the extra amount of dirt that there seems to be on the surface this year. For whatever reason we can’t break through it and we’re having a lot of difficulty getting any grip. Today the team worked so hard and we changed pretty much every setting you could think of – higher, lower, longer, shorter, softer, harder… but nothing seemed to make a difference. We’ll keep going and see if we can make the breakthrough tomorrow but at the moment we’re struggling.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“Of course it was not a brilliant day for either rider. We’ve tried some different settings but we don’t have a clear solution yet. However the team and engineers will continue to work, all night if necessary, and we will see if we can find what we are looking for. We have the warm-up to try to improve so now we wait until tomorrow.”