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Biaggi takes fourth consecutive pole position

Biaggi takes fourth consecutive pole position

Max Biaggi will line up on pole position for the fourth consecutive race in tomorrow´s Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal after topping Valentino Rossi´s best lap from yesterday in an intense final qualifying session, which saw a battle for top spot between the Italian pair and their compatriot Loris Capirossi. Seven riders lapped under Garry McCoy´s pole time from last season in blissful sunshine at the Estoril circuit, with Capirossi eventually settling for second spot ahead of Rossi. Tohru Ukawa will line up on the front row for the first time this season after qualifying in fourth.

´I´m particularly happy because yesterday we had a few problems and we´ve worked very hard to sort them out,´ said Biaggi. ´I think I showed again today that I am a bit of a specialist at pulling off one fast lap when I need to but tomorrow´s race will be a different story and I just hope I can stay in the top positions and fight all the way for the win.´

Vd Goorbergh maintained his recent qualifying form with the fifth fastest time of the day on the Proton KR ahead of Barros and Gibernau, whilst Checa completes the second row in eighth position. Last year´s race winner McCoy has his work cut out this time around as he starts from the third row in ninth place, as does World Champion Kenny Roberts who failed to qualify higher than eleventh despite supposed improvements to his Suzuki. Criville and Haga line up in twelfth and thirteenth respectively, behind Abe who was unable to improve on his times due to the injuries he suffered in his spectacular crash.

Tetsuya Harada continued his assault on 250cc Championship leader Daijiro Katoh with his fifth consecutive pole position. The Aprilia rider took his time to get going as Katoh set the pace for much of the session, but he turned in a series of sensational laps including the best ever time by a quarter-litre machine at the circuit to leave his title rival battling for second place on the grid with McWilliams. The Japanese Honda rider held off an admirable effort from the British veteran, who paid the price for some on-the-edge riding with a spectacular highside in the closing stages of the session but will be fit to line up in third place on tomorrow´s grid. Fonsi Nieto pipped Melandri to the final front row slot with a late raid that relegates the Italian to fifth spot ahead of Alzamora, Matsudo and Checa.

Manuel Poggiali´s Gilera became the fastest ever 125 machine to lap the Estoril circuit as the San Marino rider sent out a warning shot to title rival Toni Elias with the first pole position of his career. Poggiali stole top spot from the in-form Youichi Ui but the Derbi rider can have no complaints at second place on the grid. Elias was eventually forced to settle for a second row spot as Italian duo Sanna and Cecchinello emerged to take third and fourth place respectively on the grid of what promises to be another breathtaking start-to-finish battle in the World Championship´s minor class.

500cc, 2001, Max Biaggi

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