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Katoh rides like the wind and sweeps to pole position

Katoh rides like the wind and sweeps to pole position

Daijiro Katoh took pole position as the 250cc qualifying session was stopped for over thirty minutes because of a freak mini-cyclone that swept the Catalunya circuit.

As the session got underway, eyes were on Fonsi Nieto to see if he could build on his excellent performance from yesterday. The fans hopes were short-lived as the local youngster slipped off his Aprilia mere minutes into the period. Nieto was touring around a right-handed corner on the outside line when suddenly his machine threw a strange shape and plumped him onto the track. Nieto immediately clapped his hands in frustration and worryingly limped towards the fencing. He was able to continue the session but couldn´t better his lap from Friday and keeps third on the grid for Sunday´s race.

Emilio Alzamora also got into a heap of trouble when he dived inside Alex Debon carrying too much corner speed, lost the front end and scooped up the Aprilia man as they both hurtled into the gravel trap. Both riders continued the period on their spare machines.

By the halfway mark only three riders had improved their times from yesterday. Debon - before the crash - Naoki Matsudo and Sylvain Guintoli from 14th, 16th and 17th positions respectively.

After 25 minutes the cyclone interrupted proceedings and sent advertising hoardings flying across the track, which forced the session to be red flagged.Jeremy McWilliams was one of the first riders out after the restart and must have been anticipating some wind assistance as the British rider sailed off course. He managed to pull up his Aprilia before the looming wall and steered his way back onto the track.

As Katoh´s name continually popped up first on the timing screens Marco Melandri and Roberto Rolfo did their best to chase the Championship leader.Katoh eased his way around the Catalunya circuit and waited until the final five minutes to post an even quicker lap. His time from yesterday would have been good enough to give him pole but he had to shave a quarter of a second from Friday´s best to further stamp his dominance. He generously gave his team-mate Alzamora a tow in the dying laps and the local rider cut two hundredths of a second off Friday´s time to place seventh. Tetsuya Harada also left his best circulation until late. The Aprilia rider secured second spot just half a second behind Katoh. Following Nieto, Marco Melandri was fourth to complete the front row and Jeremy McWilliams heads the second with fifth position.

250cc, 2001, Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya, QP1

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