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Valentino Rossi controls final qualifying practice for his first ever 500 pole position

Valentino Rossi controls final qualifying practice for his first ever 500 pole position

Valentino Rossi was in commanding form in the final 500 qualifying practice for the Gauloises Africa´s Grand Prix, taking pole position with another sensational performance. The Honda ´phenomenon´ has dominated all the sessions at the Phakisa Freeway so far this weekend, setting a circuit best lap of 1´34.629, although fellow Italian Loris Capirossi has been continually on the pace. ´Capi´ lines up second on the grid after continually swapping positions with Rossi at the top of the time sheets throughout the session, although the Nastro Azzuro rider proved to be the quickest once the clock had stopped.

An early favourite for 500 rookie of the year is Shinya Nakano, who guided his Yamaha to the front row of the grid for the second time in the two opening races. The Japanese ´wonderboy´ lines up in third place ahead of Australian Garry McCoy, also on a Yamaha.

World Champion Kenny Roberts heads up the second row in fifth place on the Suzuki, followed by Tohru Ukawa´s Honda and Yamaha´s dual presence of Norick Abe and Max Biaggi - who take up seventh and eighth positions respectively. Alex Criville will be satisfied with ninth spot on the grid as he continues his return to form, whilst fellow Honda rider Alex Barros will be no doubt be disappointed with having to start from back in 12th position.

Australian Mark Willis did not take part in the session through injury, but his best lap from Friday was enough to see him qualify for the race and he will undergo a medical assessment on Sunday morning.

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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