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Biaggi takes provisional pole as Rossi tumbles on damp day at Donington

Biaggi takes provisional pole as Rossi tumbles on damp day at Donington

Max Biaggi took provisional pole at a gloomy Donington circuit this Friday afternoon, whilst his great rival Rossi was left picking gravel out of his leathers. The Roman, riding his Yamaha YZR, kept cool as there was a seven minute delay in proceedings caused by the debris of Rossi´s bike being strewn over the track. He came out of the pits to take provisional pole from underneath the noses of both riders from the Honda Pons team, Loris Capirossi and Alex Barros.

´We improved the set-up from this morning and the bike feels better,´ said Biaggi. ´We made a small change to geometry and the bike feels good into turns. We´ve still got some work to do on stability and we just need to do some fine tuning. With the weather looking unsure it´s good to be on pole, but we´re looking beyond tomorrow and more towards the race on Sunday.´

The other star performer of the session was Jurgen vd Goorbergh, who put the Proton KR machine on the provisional front row for the first time this season with a gritty display of riding. Suzuki team-mates Kenny Roberts and Sete Gibernau head the second row, whilst another rider to impress was Frenchman Olivier Jacque, who turned in his best performance of an injury-hit season to qualify seventh on the Yamaha. Carlos Checa makes up the second row whilst further Yamaha riders in the shape of Shinya Nakano and Jose Luis Cardoso complete a top ten which features just two Honda machines.

Two other riders joined Rossi in the gravel this afternoon. Loris Capirossi lost control early in the session before recovering to set his best lap on his second bike, whilst Leon Haslam also slipped on the greasy surface but emerged uninjured and was able to complete further laps before the clock ran down.

Jeremy McWilliams has set British hearts racing by following up his first ever Grand Prix victory last week in Assen with provisional pole position for his home race in the 250cc category. McWilliams will be careful not to get too carried away by his performance, however, with Championship leader Daijiro Katoh having qualified just 0.104 seconds behind the Aprilia rider. Marco Melandri and Tetsuya Harada make up the provisional front row in the quarter-litre class, whilst the consistent Randy de Puniet heads up a second row which also features Matsudo, Rolfo and Locatelli. All riders returned to their boxes for around 15 minutes when rainfall brought a temporary halt to proceedings half an hour into the afternoon session, but fortunately there were no accidents.

Toni Elias continued his recent run of form by taking provisional pole for the 125cc race after exchanging places at the top of the time sheets with Nobby Ueda and Youichi Ui. Ueda eventually slipped down to eighth place on the grid after an off-track excursion which gave Manuel Poggiali and Masao Azuma the chance to make it onto the front row in third and fourth positions respectively alongside Ui in second. Jarno Muller crashed and broke his collarbone, ruling himself out of the rest of the weekend´s action.

500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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