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Biaggi quickest in warm-up session at Estoril circuit

Biaggi quickest in warm-up session at Estoril circuit

The sun is shining down brilliantly on the Estoril circuit, and despite a forecast of rain, this seems like a distant prospect as the riders took to the track for their warm up sessions. The 500cc bikes were last out, Max Biaggi setting the pace there and showing us the beginning of what promises to be a great battle with Valentino Rossi this afternoon, his rival coming in behind him in second. Sete Gibernau made good time to come home third fastest, with last year´s winner on the Red Bull Yamaha, Garry McCoy, fourth fastest and proving that he cannot be written off to repeat the event. Repsol YPF Honda rider, Alex Criville, was a non-starter this morning, he´s suffering from a severe migraine and the only worry is that it won´t clear up for this afternoon´s race. Norick Abe was on the track and will take part in the race despite being seen around the paddock yesterday evening with his arm heavily bandaged and limping.

Daijiro Katoh was fastest in the 250 warm up, ahead of pole holder Tetsuya Harada and Marco Melandri, incidentally the runaway top three in the championship. Katoh will be keen to keep himself in front of Harada in this afternoon´s race as his compatriot tries to gnaw away at what at the moment is a comfortable 35-point lead. Melandri has not been hitting top form this weekend himself, but has consistently been in and around the top three this season, always offering a challenge to the Japanese pair. There were no fallers in the session that allowed the riders to put the finishing touches to their bikes and select their race tyres.

In the 125 category, second on the grid Youichi Ui set the fastest time of the 20 minute session, ahead of pole holder Manuel Poggiali, the two looking smooth and impressive throughout. For the race this afternoon they will have to go out as favourites, after having dominated the weekend so far. Championship leader Toni Elias came in 6th fastest, with his 15 year-old team mate, Dani Pedrosa beating his time and placing himself third. It has been a good weekend so far for the Telefonica Movistar Juniors, with Joan Olive also looking impressive and finishing seventh quickest. Sanna and Cecchinello placed themselves between the Honda bikes of the Spanish youngster in a session that saw Andorran rider Eric Bataille crashing out.

500cc, 2001

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