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West Honda Pons Saturday press release

West Honda Pons Saturday press release


Italian Max Biaggi grabbed his first pole position of the season after a typically hectic final qualifying session for the French Grand Prix at LeMans this afternoon. It was also a good session for Italian West Honda Pons rider Loris Capirossi who qualified on the second row in eighth placeafter improving his time from yesterday by over one second. His team-mate Alexandre Barros was not so happy and could only qualify 13th fastest and starts from the fourth row.

The lead constantly changed at the front as Biaggi and his great Italian rival, Championship leader Valentino Rossi, World Champion Kenny Roberts and consistent Japanese Yamaha rider Shinya Nakano swapped pole position. After one hour round the tight demanding Bugatti circuit it was Biaggi, despite running off the track, in pole with Roberts second, Rossi thirdand Nakano fourth.

The front row were separated by less than half a second and the first ten riders were separated by less than one second. Last year´s winner Alex Criville crashed and finally qualified in ninth place while the second row of the grid consisted of Carlos Checa, the impressive Noriyuki Haga, Norick Abe and Capirossi who was 0.826 seconds behind Biaggi.

The rider who looked capable of giving the leaders a really tough time was Australian Garry McCoy who led the first qualifying session but crashed in this morning´s practice and is ruled out of the race with a fractured scaphoid bone in his left wrist. Another rider out of the race is World 250cc Champion Olivier Jacque who suffered a similar break to McCoy in pre-season testing in Malaysia. He went out in Friday morning practice but decided he was not fit enough to compete in the race.

Australian Anthony West will miss the race after fracturing his right arm while 17 year old Leon Haslam is sidelined after fracturing his wrist yesterday.

LORIS CAPIROSSI 8th: ´We made some big steps forward during practice this morning and in the final qualifying session. The gearbox was much better and we seem to be working the right way with the settings. Also I> managed to complete many laps in the low one minute 39 seconds which should be good for the race. I need to make a good start tomorrow from the second row. If I do I think it could be a very close race.´

ALEXANDRE BARROS 13th:´Despite improving my times by only one second I will start from the fourth row of the grid. There were some improvements tothe bike but still nothing is 100 per cent. I hope we can make some improvements during the warm-up tomorrow morning and I can be competitive in the race.´

500cc, 2001, Anthony West

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