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Max Biaggi ran out of time as he rushed to make a final tyre change at the end of the session, returning to the track as the chequered flag was being prepared and then running into the gravel as he pushed to make it to the line in time for a final flying lap.
However, the Italian will be satisfied to have dropped no lower than fourth place on the grid as he continues his resurgent form following a disappointing start to the season.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st – 43’16.487) “The first lap was a hard fight with a lot of riders coming crazy, everybody wanted to be at the front and it was so much fun.
Gibernau set a fast pace and I tried 100% to follow him.
With a record crowd expected to descend on the circuit tomorrow, Gibernau provided the perfect appetiser with a dominant end to this afternoon’s qualifying session, setting a string of fast laps including a best time of 1’42.337 to remain just out of reach of his hungry team-mate Marco Melandri, who lapped just 0.053 seconds slower than the Spaniard.
“I’m still not totally happy even though I’m on pole position because we’re still not as competitive as I would like to be,” explained Gibernau, who also started from pole position here last season.
Just as he had done with Max Biaggi at Mugello last weekend and Gibernau himself two weeks previously at Le Mans, Rossi timed his victory charge to perfection, passing the Spaniard with three laps remaining and setting a stunning time of 1’43.195, almost 1.5 seconds inside the previous circuit record, to open up a decisive advantage over the final two laps.
“We made some adjustments in the afternoon and tried some new tyres from Michelin, which gave me a lot of grip at maximum lean.Tomorrow will be a long race but I’m ready.” Valentino Rossi completed the front row of the grid in third place after encountering tyre problems midway through the session and then later admitting that he “didn’t ride at 100%” on his decisive qualifying lap.Rossi’s Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards also encountered problems as he ran into a group of slower riders during his own assault on the grid positions, dropping from a potential front row start all the way down to seventh place in a typically unpredictable finale.Biaggi’s Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden and Ducati rider Loris Capirossi, who took the factory’s only Moto GP win at this circuit two years ago, also made the second row as they took advantage of Edwards’ misfortune to move up to fifth and sixth place respectively.Carlos Checa and Alex Barros join Edwards on the third row in eighth and ninth, with the fourth row consisting of the hard-charging trio of Makoto Tamada, John Hopkins and Shinya Nakano.