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Rossi on pole as Italian showdown looms

Rossi on pole as Italian showdown looms

Valentino Rossi took pole position in the final qualifying practice for the 500 class, dominating the session and holding off the challenge of Kenny Roberts, who qualified second on the grid for the second successive race. Whether the World Champion will be able to maintain the position when the race gets underway however remains to be seen, as he is joined on the front row of the grid by Rossi´s compatriots, Loris Capirossi and Max Biaggi.

It´s the showdown everybody was hoping for and it promises to be a thrilling race from start to finish as the Italian trio go head to head from the moment the red light goes out.

Rossi´s provisional pole never looked in any trouble, and with Roberts deciding to wait in the garage to see how the early stages of the session developed, it wasn´t until the final half an hour when Capirossi and Alex Barros warmed up that any sort of threat was aroused. Even then, Rossi set a series of fast laps to post a pole time out of the reach of the rest of the field and delight his masses of supporters banked around the Tuscan circuit.

It was a hectic final few minutes as Biaggi relegated Barros from the front row and Alex Criville moved up alongside the Brazilian in sixth spot – his best qualifying position of the year so far. Jurgen vd Goorbergh, who has looked in good shape on the KR3 all weekend will start from a very creditable seventh, whilst Carlos Checa completes the top eight.

500cc, 2001

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