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Rossi sets new pole record as Abe suffers spectacular crash

Rossi sets new pole record as Abe suffers spectacular crash

It was only the first qualifying session for the 500 class at the Grande Premio de Portugal in Estoril this afternoon but there was an intensity to the atmosphere in the pit lane and a determination out on the track which outlined the crucial importance of the penultimate European race of the season. Valentino Rossi showed that he is in no mood for games as he rode on the limit to set a new pole record with a time of 1´40.389, over half a second quicker than nearest rival Norick Abe.

Yamaha rider Abe will spend the rest of his birthday in some pain, however, after a nasty high speed crash which sent him bouncing into the gravel trap. The Japanese star was taken straight to the Mobile Clinic to undergo x-rays. Max Biaggi set the third fastest time of the session and is joined on the provisional front row by Italian compatriot Loris Capirossi, fourth fastest.

Carlos Checa heads the provisional second row ahead of Alex Barros and Shinya Nakano, whilst Sete Gibernau held off Suzuki team-mate Kenny Roberts to take eighth spot and relegate the World Champion to the third row.

Alex Criville was the only other 500 rider to fall this afternoon, returning to the track to qualify in twelfth, whilst Australian youngster Brendan Clarke did not ride due to a crash in this morning´s first free practice session.

500cc, 2001

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