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Spring showers fail to dampen fireworks at Phillip Island

Spring showers fail to dampen fireworks at Phillip Island

Garry McCoy made home advantage count in the first qualifying practice for the Qantas Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island today. The Camden-born rider took provisional pole position for Sunday´s race with a late fast lap which saw him prise Barros off top spot after the chequered flag had been waved. The Brazilian had been fastest for much of the afternoon on a track which was slightly damp in some areas at the start of the session but dried out to set up an exciting finale. Rossi recovered from a fall and then an off-track excursion on his second machine to clock the third fastest time behind Barros, with Checa completing the provisional front row after a consistent performance.

´I am desperate to do well at this race and I feel mentally and psychologically prepared,´ said McCoy. ´I struggled a little with the wind today like everyone else and I am still bruised from my crash last week in Motegi so it is extra pleasing to set the fastest time. The most important thing though is the race on Sunday and I feel confident I can do well. I want a race win before the end of the season and hopefully I can do it here.´

Jacque and Nakano today returned to action at the track where they contested the 250cc World Championship decider last year, when the Frenchman took victory by 0.014 seconds from his Japanese team-mate. The pair are hoping to steal the headlines in 500cc this time around and almost did so today with some impressive riding throughout. Both riders made it onto the second row, with Jacque in fifth and Nakano in eighth sandwiching Vd Goorbergh and Biaggi in and sixth and seventh respectively.

Katoh overcame the best efforts of Fonsi Nieto and Harada in the 250 class to take provisional pole on his very last lap. The trio had interchanged the top spots with McWilliams, Rolfo and Alzamora in the early stages of the session but it soon became a three man battle as the pace increased. Fonsi topped the time sheets with just over five minutes remaining before Katoh and Harada made their customary late charge. Harada was held up by traffic and had to settle for third spot ahead of McWilliams as Katoh went through to take the early advantage into tomorrow´s final qualifying practice. Melandri completed nine laps before returning to his pit garage due to intense pain in his wrist and chest caused by his crash last week at Motegi.

Cecchinello was the man who adapted best to the difficult conditions in the first qualifying session for the 125 class, taking provisional pole position as sporadic rain continually interrupted proceedings. The Italian trio of Sanna, Sabbatani and Perugini came through to seal front row spots alongside compatriot Cecchinello, with Sanna holding top position until the veteran´s last lap raid. Further late efforts from Vincent and Ui pushed Australian wildcard Stoner out to seventh place ahead of Championship leader Poggiali in eighth. Elias was unable to make an impression in the wet after a slow start and was forced to settle for 20th spot on the provisional grid.

500cc, 2001

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