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Katoh recovers from Motegi disappointment to take provisional pole in Australia

Katoh recovers from Motegi disappointment to take provisional pole in Australia

In the 250 first qualifying practice, Daijiro Katoh dusted himself down after his DNF at the Pacific Grand Prix to record another provisional pole position for the season, at the Phillip Island circuit. The Japanese rider overcame the best efforts of Nieto and Harada to set his fastest lap on his 25th lap of 25. Katoh had interchanged top spots with Nieto and Harada throughout the session, with intermittent attacks from McWilliams, Rolfo and Alzamora. Towards the end though it was the first three riders who set the pace, Katoh snatching pole from the Spaniard, Nieto after the chequered flag had come out.

Katoh´s time of 1´34.739 is still over a second outside the pole position record of Shinya Nakano last year, and given that this was the place where the 250 title was decided last year, Katoh will be looking to put the early pressure on his main title rival, Tetsuya Harada. Third in the championship, Marco Melandri, could only manage 9 laps as he limped his way into 26th spot. Ironically, it was Melandri who put Katoh out of the race in Japan recently, but the Italian was not present for the majority of the session to be another thorn in Katoh´s side, as he was whisked off to the medical centre for his broken hand to be checked over by medical staff at the circuit.

Nieto´s provisional second and Harada´s third meant Briton Jeremy McWilliams had to settle for the last front row place, while behind the four leaders came Roberto Rolfo, Emilio Alzamora, Alex Debon and Sebastian Porto - the highest of the Yamaha bikes.

The weather for this session was sunny and dry, so all the other riders will hope this keeps up to give them the chance of challenging for a higher position - especially 30th placed Katja Poensgen and the six other riders from 29th to 35th, none of whom made the 107% qualifying time. If the rain were to come, it would be practically impossible to improve on today´s times, so we shall have to wait and see.

250cc, 2001, Qantas Australian Grand Prix, QP1

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