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Biaggi, Harada and Elias shine through at damp Donington

Biaggi, Harada and Elias shine through at damp Donington

Max Biaggi will start the Cinzano British Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday after holding on to his provisional slot throughout a rain affected final qualifying session at a drizzly Donington Park this afternoon. With the track still damp from a shower during this morning´s 250 free practice which continued throughout the lunch break, only Norick Abe, Tohru Ukawa and Shinya Nakano, who dislodged Jurgen vd Goorbergh from the front row, were able to better their previous efforts. With many of the riders spending much of the afternoon session camped in the pit lane, the rest of the grid remains unchanged - meaning Championship leader Valentino Rossi will start from eleventh position.

´I am happy to be on pole, although due to the rain we haven´t completed the work we had planned for the tyres,´ said Biaggi. ´I´ll have to do some experimenting in the morning warm-up before the race tomorrow and I also need to test some front fork settings. It is a satisfactory grid for me but at the end of the day it can mean nothing when the race gets underway and somebody far down the list can often make their way into the podium positions or better.´

Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi, with second and third place respectively, hold their places on the front row between Biaggi and Nakano. Vd Goorbergh on the Proton KR heads a second row which also features Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts and Sete Gibernau as well as Yamaha man Olivier Jacque in that order. Further Yamaha apparatus piloted by Carlos Checa and Jose Luis Cardoso completes a top ten which includes just two Honda machines for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1992.

British rider Chris Walker will be happy with 14th place on the grid for his home Grand Prix, whilst fellow local Leon Haslam continues to recover from a fractured wrist and broken finger and lines up in 20th position.

Tetsuya Harada and Marco Melandri gatecrashed a Honda party in the final qualifying session for the 250 class by taking pole position and third place on the grid. Team-mates Daijiro Katoh and Emilio Alzamora had looked set to take a one-two on the Japanese factory machines but were foiled by the Aprilia pair who set fast laps in a hectic finale to the session. Jeremy McWilliams was relegated from the front row after holding on to his provisional pole position throughout the majority of the afternoon, although he dropped no further than fifth place thanks to some quick laps of his own. The Ulsterman is joined on the second row by Naoki Matsudo, Roberto Rolfo, and Randy de Puniet.

The provisional grid for the 125 category remained completely unchanged in their rain-hit final qualifying session, allowing Spanish youngster Toni Elias to take his first ever pole position. The 18 year old took his first career victory in wet conditions last week at Assen, and having made some excellent starts from the grid already this year he could be the man to beat when the red lights go out tomorrow morning. Holding their places alongside Elias on the front row are Youichi Ui, Manuel Poggiali and Masao Azuma.

500cc, 2001, Toni Elias

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