Good fortune for Kato

Daijiro Kato survived a morning accident to take pole position for the Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi in Japan.

Daijiro Kato survived a morning accident to take pole position for the Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi in Japan.

The Fortuna Honda rider slid off his bike into the gravel earlier this morning and was forced to switch to his spare machine.

That change meant the home favourite was unable to improve on yesterday's time but he held on to pole position as nearest challenger Max Biaggi also failed to go quicker today on his Marlboro Yamaha.

Kato said: "I actually crashed my number one bike at the start of the session and had to take it back to the pits, so I was unable to improve my time with the spare bike. I am riding in my home country so this is good start for tomorrow."

Biaggi added: "With about 15 minutes to go it was time to change the tyre but my bike broke down with an engine problem, otherwise I think I might have improved on my provisional time.

"I am a little sad because I didn't expect it - my second bike felt different because I had focused mainly on my first bike. Anyway, it is good that it happened today and tomorrow should be okay."

West Honda's Loris Capirossi did improve though and he rocketed up to third position on the gird for the race, with Biaggi's team-mate Carlos Checa completing the front row.

It was a frustrating day for world champion Valentino Rossi who slipped to third overnight to sixth place and a rare second-row start.

Ulsterman Jeremy McWilliams also slipped down the order today despite an improvement and he rounds out the top 10 on his Team KR Proton.

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