Kawasaki Day 2 Report
|Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano will
start tomorrow's season finale from the head of the second row of
the grid, after qualifying his Ninja ZX-RR in fourth position during
this afternoon's hour long timed session at Valencia.
The 29-year-old Japanese rider looked certain to start tomorrow's 30-lap race from the front row, after an inch-perfect qualifying lap right at the end of the session, but was demoted to fourth position by a flying Loris Capirossi, who just managed to beat the chequered flag on his final fast lap.
Nakano goes into tomorrow's race confident of ending the season with a good result, after finding a good race set-up on his Ninja ZX-RR during today's final qualifying session. The Kawasaki rider is also happy with his tyre options for the final race of the season, after testing a number of rear race tyres from Bridgestone, before switching to super-sticky qualifiers to secure his grid position.
After settling on his race set-up early on in this afternoon's session, Randy de Puniet was the first rider to make the switch to qualifying tyres, capturing pole position with his first flying lap as the session reached the halfway point.
De Puniet was quickly demoted by a hard charging Capirossi, but was confident of improving his grid position with his final two qualifying runs at the end of the session. Unfortunately, on the first of these runs, de Puniet suffered a mechanical failure on his number one Ninja ZX-RR, forcing him to fit the final qualifying tyre to his spare machine.
With only minutes remaining, de Puniet returned to the track for his final flying lap, but was unable to improve upon his previous best lap time, and was disappointed to finish the session only eleventh fastest, and facing a start from the fourth row of the grid tomorrow.
A record crowd is expected for the championship deciding Grand Prix of Valencia, and organisers have been appealing all weekend for those fans not in possession of a ticket to stay away from the circuit tomorrow.
Shinya Nakano: 4th - 1'31.341
"My aim today was to make sure I started the last race of the season from the front row of the grid, so I am a little disappointed to have missed out on third position by such a narrow margin. But, I am happy with my race set-up and we have good tyre options whatever the conditions tomorrow, so starting from the second row will not be such a big disadvantage I think. I crashed out of the last two races, so my first priority tomorrow is to make it to the chequered flag, but I'd also like to finish the season with a strong result for both me and the team, so I'll be pushing as hard as ever. The battle for the championship between Valentino and Nicky is sure to be intense tomorrow, but there is no pressure on me for the championship, and I hope I can ride my own race without becoming involved in their fight for the title."
Randy de Puniet: 11th - 1'31.892
"Once again we've been the victims of bad luck. The bike felt good in race trim, so we opted to run a qualifier early on in the session. I was happy with my first flying lap, and I was confident that we could improve further with the second and third qualifying tyres. But, on my second qualifying run towards the end of the session I suffered a mechanical problem with my number one machine. I had just enough time to get back to the pits, get the mechanics to put my last qualifying tyre on my spare bike, and head back out to try and improve my position. Unfortunately, I couldn't improve on my first lap on a qualifying tyre and, as a result, I will start the race tomorrow from the fourth row of the grid. But, our race set-up is good, and Bridgestone have the tyres we need, so I still think it's possible to end the season with a top ten finish tomorrow afternoon."
Naoya Kaneko: Technical Manager
"I think we will go into tomorrow's race confident in the race set-up of both riders, and secure in the knowledge that, whatever the conditions tomorrow afternoon, we know Bridgestone have a race tyre that works well at this circuit. Shinya did a good job in qualifying today, although I know he is disappointed to have missed out on the front row. Unfortunately, Randy suffered a mechanical problem at the worst possible time and, as a result, he now faces a start from the fourth row of the grid. But, he proved in Estoril that, even starting with such a big disadvantage, it's still possible for him to finish the season with a top ten result, and I know this is what he will be aiming for tomorrow."