Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Hopkins heads Bridgestone treble top at Motegi

Suzuki rider John Hopkins set the fastest time during a day of free practice
dominated by local tyre manufacturers Bridgestone at Motegi on Friday. The first
day of the Grand Prix of Japan saw Hopkins follow up his impressive qualifying
performance from last season, when he lined up on the front row of the grid for
the only time in his career, with a lap of 1'47.952, over half a second inside
the lap record held by Makoto Tamada.

"Suzuki have brought some new parts here, and added to that Bridgestone seem to
have an excellent race tyre so I am confident of sticking the race out at the
front," said Hopkins, who was one of six riders to crash in the first corner of
last year's event here. "I am really looking forward to Sunday because I think
can go well and I'm feeling confident of getting on that podium at last. The
last two years at this track haven't been good for me here but hopefully that
can all change."

Loris Capirossi celebrated a newly signed one-year contract with Ducati with the
second fastest time of the day after dominating for much of the afternoon
session. Meanwhile Hopkins' team-mate Kenny Roberts was almost as impressive,
lapping just 0.311 seconds short of the youngster's best time as he looks to
convert some impressive wet performances earlier in the season into a dry result
at a crucially important home race for Suzuki.

Valentino Rossi was the fastest rider on Michelin tyres, the World Champion
clocking the fourth quickest time overall ahead of Sete Gibernau and Nicky
Hayden. Rossi could retain his title this weekend and will be satisfied with his
form today as none of his direct championship rivals were able to record a
faster lap time than the Italian. Although Rossi has won each of his previous
premier-class world titles with a victory, a similar result to today on Sunday
would guarantee championship honours for the fifth successive season.

Max Biaggi was seventh fastest at the circuit where he celebrated victory two
years ago riding the Honda RC211V, whilst last year's winner Makoto Tamada could
only manage ninth place behind Marco Melandri. Alex Barros, who took victory
here in 2002, completed the top ten ahead of Colin Edwards, Carlos Checa, Tohru
Ukawa, Alex Hofmann and Shinya Nakano.

There was a dramatic start to the weekend for the 250cc class as current series
leader Dani Pedrosa crashed out of both the morning and afternoon sessions,
injuring his left wrist. His Honda team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama made an exciting
start to his home Grand Prix, meanwhile, taking provisional pole position ahead
of Alex de Angelis and his brother Shuhei, who was third fastest. Andrea
Dovizioso completes the provisional front row at a circuit where he celebrated a
clear victory in the 125cc race last season. Sebastian Porto, Jorge Lorenzo,
Casey Stoner and Yuki Takahashi make up the second row, with Takahashi's younger
brother Kouki provisionally qualifying in 28th place.

Mika Kallio sent out a warning shot to 125cc World Championship leader Thomas
Luthi with the fastest time in the first qualifying session for the minor class,
clocking a best lap of 1'59.137. KTM rider Kallio was over half a second faster
than nearest challenger Marco Simoncelli, with former World Champion Manuel
Poggiali and Mattia Pasini completing the provisional front row. Luthi
provisionally qualified in tenth place as he aims to defend an eight-point lead
at the top of the standings.

INFO 2005/132. 16-09-2005