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Melandri leaves it late for provisional pole in 250

Melandri leaves it late for provisional pole in 250

Marco Melandri crossed the line at the chequered flag having just recorded his fastest lap of the 250 final qualifying session, taking provisional pole for Saturday´s race in the process. The young Italian snatched top spot off the nose of Aprilia team-mate Jeremy McWilliams, who had dominated the session from start to finish, whilst Tetsuya Harada also came through right at the end to relegate the British rider to third. Harada´s late surge knocked Daijiro Katoh down to fifth place and ensured an all-Aprilia front row as Roberto Rolfo hung on to take fourth.

Melandri looked strong throughout the session and now seems over the injury problems which have dogged him since the start of the season, and that is bad news for Championship leader Daijiro Katoh, who will also have to contend with 100% podium performer Harada and a resurgent McWilliams when the race gets underway. McWilliams recorded one of his best results on a 250 machine here two years ago when he finished third, and there is no doubt the man from Ulster looks capable of equalling, or even bettering, that performance this weekend.

Katoh´s team-mate Emilio Alzamora qualified in eighth, and the Honda pair sandwich the Aprilia of Randy de Puniet and Sebastian Porto on the second row. De Puniet fell but emerged uninjured, as did Roberto Locatelli, whilst Fonsi Nieto qualified in 15th position on the provisional grid after fracturing his right malleolus (a small bone in the ankle) in this morning´s free practice session.

250cc, 2001, Gauloises Dutch TT, QP1

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