Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi will start tomorrow's Australian GP from the first and second rows of the grid following a thrilling qualifying session at Phillip Island this afternoon. Both men took their turn at the top during qualifying, Stoner ending up third, six tenths off pole, and Capirossi fifth quickest, a further 0.274 seconds back. This will be Stoner's tenth front-row start of the season so far.
The recently crowned World Champion - who today received a letter of congratulations and good wishes from Australian Prime Minister John Howard - isn't concerned that he's not on pole because his pace on race tyres has been devastatingly quick here and Phillip Island is a fast, open circuit where overtaking isn't an issue for fast, brave riders. The Aussie was relentlessly quickest in all three previous sessions, using race tyres, and is confident of a good home GP tomorrow despite a crash during this morning's damp practice session. Japanese GP winner Capirossi made the best of the only fully dry session of a cold and damp weekend to put himself in with a chance of another great race.
Casey Stoner, "Qualifying was probably our worse session so far this weekend and the front row or the second row is okay here. We went out quite early with a qualifying tyre because every other session had been interrupted by rain so we thought we'd get in a decent qualifying lap in case the rain started, but the rain never came, so it probably wasn't the best idea as we only had one qualifying tyre left for the end of the session. We felt like we could've gone at least a second quicker than that, unfortunately I got held up by other riders on both of my laps. That last lap Tamada got in my road big time and pretty much blew the lap to pieces, then I made a small mistake that added a few more tenths. Looking at the race tomorrow we're pretty happy, we think we've got a very good setting at the moment and we're happy with our race tyres. We're running pretty hard tyres, like everybody else, and everything's looking really good for us."
Loris Capirossi, "I'm happy with fifth fastest because we have worked very well as a team. We used the settings we used during our winter tests here and they are working well. We made good use of the qualifying session to do all the tests that we hadn't been able to do yesterday or this morning due to the rain. I rode a lot of laps this afternoon, 14 or 15 in a row, which helped me to understand what we need to do tomorrow. I have quite a good feeling with the bike, even if conditions aren't the best because it's very cold. I think we can do well tomorrow. Starting from the second row is good enough and if we get a good start we will see what happens.