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Loris Capirossi takes pole in spectacular first 500 qualifying session

Loris Capirossi takes pole in spectacular first 500 qualifying session

It was only the first qualifying practice for the 500 class but the world´s elite motorcycle racers were in a party mood. Some spectacular riding, aided by a slippery track at the Phakisa Freeway, provided an electrifying start to the Gauloises Africa´s Grand Prix for which Loris Capirossi eventually took provisional pole. Honda man Capirossi, who took pole in the previous round in Japan, again blew the rest of the field away and was the only rider to break the 1´36 mark - clocking a best lap of 1´35.618.

Valentino Rossi was the second fastest rider of the session but was still over 0.5 seconds slower than his fellow countryman. Rossi gave an impressive display of stylish riding on his Honda, which was only outshone by Australian ´slider´ Garry McCoy; the Yamaha man finished 0.378 seconds behind the young Italian.

McCoy occasionally seemed as though he might lose the rear end of his machine with some outrageous cornering, and at one point he flicked the rear wheel into the air mid-slide to the amusement, and indeed bemusement, of the paddock. It looked like it might be a one man show with McCoy clearly full of confidence after his first ever 500 win here last year, but Capirossi was not to be outdone and after some hairy moments of his own, the diminutive Italian took control.

World Champion Kenny Roberts made a welcome return to the top of the time sheets and the Suzuki rider completes the provisional front row. A Japanese threesome of Norick Abe, Tohru Ukawa and Shinya Nakano were joined on the second row by a resurgent Alex Criville.

500cc, 2001

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