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A review of the action at the first day of the Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya

A review of the action at the first day of the Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya

Loris Capirossi made the most of a mistake by Valentino Rossi to take provisional pole position in an eventful first qualifying session in the 500 class at the Circuit de Catalunya today. The Honda Pons rider had been in impressive form throughout the day, as had team-mate Alex Barros, and he came within 0.004 seconds of Alex Criville´s pole record at the Spanish circuit. Barros was third fastest overall behind Norick Abe, despite taking over at the top of the time sheets when Rossi fell for the second time in two weeks.

´I´m very happy with the way we have performed today because this is the home Grand Prix for my team,´ said Capirossi. ´We have continued our good work from Mugello and that is the sort of consistency we need to maintain. I came close to the pole record today but I think I can go even faster tomorrow.´

Rossi lost the front end of his Honda when braking hard into a right hand corner. Having made a major rear tyre slide, the Italian tipped into the turn with too much pace and the front end of the bike tucked under, sending him sliding towards the grass. As Rossi dusted himself down, Barros made his move, only to be dislodged by Capirossi and Abe at the end of the session. ´The Doctor´ Rossi had to settle for the final front row position on the provisional grid despite returning to the track on his spare bike.

There were a couple of surprises on the second row as Jurgen vd Goorbergh put the Proton KR3 in fifth place behind consistent Yamaha rider Shinya Nakano. Sete Gibernau lapped well on his Suzuki at his home track and also makes an appearance in the top eight, well ahead of team-mate and World Champion Kenny Roberts who qualified back in fourteenth. Max Biaggi lines up just ahead of Roberts, although his Marlboro Yamaha team-mate Carlos Checa brought some cheer to the crew by making up the second row in eighth position.

Other fallers included Tohru Ukawa, Chris Walker and Johan Stigefelt, who all escaped uninjured. Garry McCoy and Olivier Jacque both lapped and are set to ride tomorrow, whilst Leon Haslam pulled out of the free practice through injury this morning and confirmed that he will not be returning to action this weekend.

It was business as usual in the 250 class as Daijiro Katoh put his Mugello nightmare behind him to take provisional pole position ahead of a typical Aprilia onslaught. Jeremy McWilliams took initial control and it wasn´t until late in the session that the other riders began to claw back his 0.5 second advantage. With five minutes left, Katoh moved into provisional pole and just managed to hold off a late surge from Fonsi Nieto and the ever present challenge of Marco Melandri. Home rider Fonsi was second fastest ahead of the Italian and a burst from Tetsuya Harada relegated McWilliams to the second row at the death.

Lucio Cecchinello was a class above the rest of the 125 field, taking provisional pole by 0.965 seconds from Spaniard Toni Elias. Local youngster Elias´ 16 year old compatriot Angel Rodriguez was just 0.002 seconds slower in third, as Manuel Poggiali took the final front row place. It was a promising day for Spanish motorcycling, as Elias´ Telefonica Movistar Honda Junior Team colleagues, 15 year old Dani Pedrosa and 16 year old Joan Olive, registered season-best positions of eighth and thirteenth respectively. Championship leader Gino Borsoi qualified in a lowly 20th position, whilst Youichi Ui made a late rush from 22nd to record the fifth fastest time of the session.

500cc, 2001

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