Valentino Rossi is the firm favourite to win the Japan/Pacific MotoGP race this weekend, especially so after Honda grabbed the top four places in Friday’s first qualifying session.

Valentino Rossi is the firm favourite to win the Japan/Pacific MotoGP race this weekend, especially so after Honda grabbed the top four places in Friday’s first qualifying session.


Sete Gibernau (pictured left) snatched a dramatic provisional pole at Motegi by setting a new all-time pole record in the session. He was followed by fellow Honda riders Rossi, Makoto Tamada and Max Biaggi.

With so much drama as the drivers shuffle for position amidst stylish runs and spectacular crashes, the race could see the world championship decided in Rossi's favour.

The Italian has exerted his supremacy with some masterful performances in the last three rounds. Consecutive victories at Brno, Estoril and Rio has taken his points advantage over Honda colleague Sete Gibernau to 51, meaning that should he win and Gibernau score less than two points, the 2003 title will be his.

However, Rossi is yet to formally be announced as a Honda rider for 2004 while most expect that news to be broken this weekend.

The event on Sunday will be tinged with sadness as the racing world remembers Daijiro Kato's tragic accident at Suzuka six months ago. Kato will be honoured as a MotoGP Legend and inducted into the Hall of Fame in a special ceremony to be held on Saturday.

Original article from Car