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For the second race in a row MotoGP was a victim of severe weather conditions today, when Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix was cancelled amidst torrential rain at the Motegi Twin Ring. The decision to abandon the session meant that the grid for tomorrow's race was decided on the fastest times from all free practices, leaving Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi on pole and Jorge Lorenzo in third.
This morning's session was the first wet practice of the season and offered the riders their first chance to try out the new generation of Bridgestone rain tyres. Rossi and Lorenzo were happy to find their wet settings working well from the off and the Italian finished the session second with his Spanish team-mate in fourth. Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards made it a good morning for Yamaha by topping the time sheets.
The rain became heavier throughout the morning and by the early afternoon there was plenty of standing water on the track. MotoGP practice was delayed until 1500 but by then it was clear that the rain was not stopping and the decision was taken to cancel the session for safety reasons. With the grid being formed on free practice times, Rossi and Lorenzo's strong showing in the only dry session yesterday stands them in good stead for tomorrow's race, which is expected to be dry.
1st - Valentino Rossi Speaks...
"We've been very unlucky in these two races and last year as well, because we've just had so much rain! This year has been worse though because first we had to delay the race in Qatar and now we've had to cancel qualifying here. I don't think it was such a good idea to come to Motegi in April! So now we're going into a race after just 45 minutes in the dry and 45 minutes in the wet, and I think maybe it will be one of the most uncertain races ever! We're lucky because we had a good session in the dry yesterday and so we're on pole, which is very important for the race here but it's still impossible to be at 100% after such a short time and with so little data. In the dry this morning our setting worked well also so I think we can fight whether it's dry or wet, and after all it's the same for everybody. Of course I would prefer it to be dry but above all I hope it's not half and half, I hope it's either fully wet or fully dry otherwise it will be even more difficult."
2nd - Casey Stoner Speaks...
"We've been running reasonably competitive in both wet and dry," noted the Australian after Saturday qualifying was cancelled. "We could have done with a little bit more time; we weren't going for the quickest lap time on Friday, more just preparing for the race. We're on the front row, so it's all good."
3rd - Jorge Lorenze Speaks...
"I am relieved to be on the front row and very happy we were able to do such a good time yesterday. Today is a pity but anyway I am fast in the dry and in the wet so I feel good for the race tomorrow. My bike is working well in both types of conditions and it feels good in the braking and through the chassis. Of course we don't have so much data but we have options for a wet or a dry race so now we just have to wait and see how it is tomorrow morning."
MotoGP Qualifying Times
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1'48.545
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1'48.601
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1'48.965
4. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'49.382
5. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'49.697
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'49.980
7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 1'50.030
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team 1'50.123
9. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'50.209
10. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'50.342
11. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 1'50.391
12. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1'50.393
13. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team
14. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando 1'50.538
15. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'50.601
16. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1'50.669
17. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing 1'51.643
18. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing 1'51.929
Motegi: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1'47.091
Motegi: Best Lap
J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2008, 1'45.543