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Italian trio of Rossi, Locatelli and Cecchinello fastest in the morning warm-up sessions

Italian trio of Rossi, Locatelli and Cecchinello fastest in the morning warm-up sessions

Valentino Rossi continues to set the pace at the Gauloises Africa´s Grand Prix - even in the warm-ups! The Honda man set an extremely quick lap of 1´35.458, hitting a top speed of 257.4 km/h in this morning´s session. Rossi, who starts from pole position, also spent time practising his starts and was joined by fellow Italian Loris Capirossi for a quick burn out right at the end.

Shinya Nakano also looked comfortable in the warm up, coming within almost half a second of his qualifying time. The Japanese youngster will be looking for a place in the top three in this afternoon´s race after missing out on a podium finish in Suzuka because of tyre problems. Tohru Ukawa, Garry McCoy and Sete Gibernau also set fast laps. Gibernau finished second here in 1999 - his best ever Grand Prix appearance, and he will be hoping his Suzuki is up to the task of keeping him amongst the top riders this time around.

Yesterday´s qualifying list as been confirmed as the Official Starting Grid, and Mark Willis takes up 23rd position after passing a late fitness test on a damaged vertebrae.

There were no major incidents in the 250 warm-up and yesterday´s provisional line-up was confirmed as the Official Starting Grid. Daijiro Katoh, Tetsuya Harada, Marco Melandri and Roberto Locatelli line up on the front row, with Locatelli having set the quickest time of this morning´s session. The Italian once again showed how well he is adapting to the 250cc machine and looked to have a good race rhythm as he goes in search of his second podium in the first two races. Marco Melandri continued his recovery from a shoulder injury and seems to get stronger with each lap. He was understandably reluctant to push too hard in the warm up and finished fifth fastest behind Katoh, Harada and Jeremy McWilliams. The British rider is at last showing signs that he is re-adapting to the 250 class and he will be hoping for an improvement on his performance in Japan where he finished 8th.

The 125 riders took to the track this morning with one notable exception. Simone Sanna, who finished third in the first race at Suzuka did not pass a medical this morning and will not be fit to race. The Aprilia rider suffered from concussion after falling heavily in yesterday morning´s first free practice session and has not recovered in time.

Lucio Cecchinello set the quickest time in the warm-up with Youchi Ui making his customary late burst for a quick lap at the end of the session. Angel Nieto Jr. looked in good shape after doing particularly well in yesterday´s qualifying session and will be looking to steal a march on the front row from fifth place on the grid. Nobby Ueda had a quiet session and was 12th quickest although he is sure to be a force when the race gets underway.

125cc, 2001, Gauloises Africa's Grand Prix, WUP

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