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Marco Melandri snatches headlines in 250 class

Marco Melandri snatches headlines in 250 class

Marco Melandri stole the headlines usually hogged by Daijiro Katoh in the 250 class today, as Aprilia riders stole a march on the Honda man in the first qualifying practice of the Grand Prix Polini de France. Italian youngster Melandri, who had a hairy moment when he went off the track and into the gravel, fought off the challenge of team-mates Jeremy McWilliams and Tetsuya Harada, as well as that of Championship leader Katoh, to take top spot by 0.789 seconds.

McWilliams was second quickest of the session whilst Katoh set a fast time on his very last lap to relegate Harada to the final position on the provisional front row.

Katoh´s team-mate Emilio Alzamora had one of his better sessions of the season so far to finish sixth fastest behind Spanish compatriot Fonsi Nieto. Nephew of former World Champion and MotoGP legend Angel Nieto, Fonsi is showing continued improvement on the Aprilia and after just missing out on the podium with a 5th place finish in the last round in Jerez, he will be looking to make the top three here at Le Mans.

The other half of the provisional second row is made up of Randy de Puniet, at his home venue, and Argentinean rider Sebastian Porto. Meanwhile Roberto Locatelli and Franco Battaini had a disappointing session to finish 11th and 13th fastest respectively, whilst Katja Poensgen recovered from a nasty fall in this morning´s practice to qualify in a provisional 27th place.

250cc, 2001, Grand Prix Polini de France, QP1

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