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Katoh takes pole and Melandri injured in dramatic final 250cc qualifying session

Katoh takes pole and Melandri injured in dramatic final 250cc qualifying session

Telefonica Movistar Honda rider Daijiro Katoh is on pole position for the 250cc Grand Prix of Japan after blowing away his contemporaries in the final qualifying session at the Suzuka circuit this afternoon. Nearest rival Marco Melandri, who set the second best time overall in yesterday´s first qualifying session, never got chance to endanger Katoh´s dominance as he fell from his MS Aprilia Racing machine and dislocated his shoulder midway through the session.

125cc World Champion Roberto Locatelli softened the blow for the Aprilia squad by taking third place overall. The MS Eros Ramazotti rider will effectively line up in Melandri´s place on the grid tomorrow and is joined on the front row by Alex Debon, who put in an impressive ride on the Valencia Circuit Aspar Team Aprilia, and Aprilia Grand Prix rider Jeremy McWilliams.

Despite the huge injury disappointment for Melandri, Aprilia had a relatively successful day, and will have three more riders on the second row in the shape of Franco Battaini, Tetsuya Harada and Roberto Rolfo. The trio will be joined by Naoki Matsudo on the Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK.

A total of five riders crashed, with Sylvain Guintoli, Shahrol Yuzy, Klaus Nohles and Choujun Kameya joining Melandri on the deck. Wildcard rider Kameya has damaged two vertebrae in his back and will miss the race tomorrow, although the other three fallers will make the grid.

German rider Katja Poensgen qualified in 31st position and is all set to make her Grand Prix debut tomorrow.

250cc, 2001, Grand Prix of Japan, QP1

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