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Katoh busts lap record to grab provisional pole

Katoh busts lap record to grab provisional pole

Telefonica Movistar Honda man Daijiro Katoh predictably took provisional pole in the 250cc class and set the circuit lap record, although he was pushed all the way by MS Aprilia prodigy Marco Melandri. Melandri set the quickest lap in the dying stages of a session dominated by Katoh and the Japanese starlet had to push for a fast time in the last couple of minutes, leading to his sensational effort.

The title favourite smashed his own effort from last year, but played down his performance at the end of the session: ´I have tried many set-ups and many tyres today. The track condition was quite bad as it was very dusty - especially compared to what it was like at the tests recently, there wasn´t much grip - but the set-up we have at the moment is okay. I don´t care about times - all I want to concentrate on is making sure we get everything right for Sunday.´ Katoh´s words will come as little comfort to his rivals who are only two aware that there is still a day of practice and qualifying to go before the big day.

Naoki Matsudo recovered well after falling from his Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK midway through the session to post the third fastest time, whilst Aprilia Grand Prix veteran Jeremy McWilliams proved that he will be a force to be reckoned with this year by making up the provisional front row in fourth place. McWilliams has had a tough pre-season but returned to the big time determined not to be outdone by young riders like Katoh and Melandri, showing more than enough bottle to suggest he will be fighting for the Championship throughout 2001. Alex Debon also fell from his Valencia Circuit Aspar Team Aprilia but was fit enough to continue riding.

Tags:
250cc, 2001, Grand Prix of Japan, QP1

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