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Daijiro Katoh makes hard work of his fourth consecutive 250 pole

Daijiro Katoh makes hard work of his fourth consecutive 250 pole

Daijiro Katoh left it late but took pole position for the 250 race in this afternoon´s final qualifying session. Marco Melandri´s provisional pole time from yesterday was enough to keep the Italian at the top of the time sheets until the very end of the session, despite the fact that he did not participate due to a dislocated shoulder sustained in this morning´s practice. The Aprilia youngster will undergo a medical tomorrow morning and an announcement will be made over whether he is to race or not.

Melandri was finally ousted from top spot by Katoh on his penultimate lap of the session, although at one stage it looked as though the Honda rider might be foiled by Cesar Barros who held him up unnecessarily on his fast lap. Tetsuya Harada also made a late surge to take second spot and relegate his Aprilia team-mate Melandri to third. In reality it may be Harada who has the best chance of breaking Katoh´s 100% victory record in 2001 as even if Melandri does return to action tomorrow he is sure to be suffering from the same injury which threatened to keep him out of the first race in Japan.

Fonsi Nieto continued his outstanding form to take his second front row position of the season, just ahead of Spanish compatriot Emilio Alzamora, who with fifth place achieved his best ever classification in the 250 class. Should Melandri recover in time to take up his position at the front of the grid, Alzamora will be joined on the second row by Randy de Puniet, Jeremy McWilliams and Naoki Matsudo. If not, the Spaniard will be moved up to the front row and Sebastian Porto will start from eighth.

McWilliams was one of the only riders unable to improve their times from yesterday, alongside Diego Guigovaz and David Tomas. Guigovaz fell for the second time today and was joined on the deck during the afternoon session by Sylvain Guintoli and Shahrol Yuzy.

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

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