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Biaggi resumes pole dominance in Australia

Biaggi resumes pole dominance in Australia

Max Biaggi will start from pole position for the 7th time this season after clocking the best ever lap of the Phillip Island circuit by a motorcycle in a time of 1´31.984. It was just the boost Biaggi needed ahead of a race in which he knows he must finish in the top two positions if he is to have any chance of preventing his arch rival Valentino Rossi from being crowned World Champion. Rossi starts from second place on the grid and, although a place in the top eight is guaranteed to seal him the title, he will be expected to pile the pressure on Biaggi from the start and challenge for his ninth win of the season.

´We found the right tyre for today and set a couple of good laps,´ said Biaggi. ´We think we have found a good compound for tomorrow´s race but don´t know whether it will be quite good enough. We seem to have been able to find a good tyre for qualifying all season but not in the race, so we will just have to wait and see.´

In-form riders Barros and Gibernau complete the front row, the Brazilian having dominated the time sheets throughout the afternoon until late efforts from the two Italians. Barros tried his utmost to react but fell on a fast lap, injuring his neck, although he will be fit for the race. Jacque had looked set for his first front row start of the season at the circuit which saw him clinch the 250cc title last year until Gibernau came through to steal fourth. The Frenchman will now start from the head of the second row in fifth place ahead of Capirossi, Checa and Ukawa respectively. Local hero McCoy, who set the provisional pole time yesterday, was unable to maintain his high standards and qualified fourteenth.

Tetsuya Harada made it seven pole positions from the last eight races despite falling midway through the final qualifying session for the 250 class. Katoh, who leads his Japanese compatriot by 24 points in the rider standings, qualified in third place behind McWilliams in second - the British rider´s best qualifying position of the season. Locatelli snatched the final front row spot ahead of Fonsi Nieto. The Spaniard starts from fifth place on a second row. Melandri decided not to take part today after injuries sustained in last week´s crash at Motegi proved too painful. The Italian youngster is unfit for tomorrow´s race.

Manuel Poggiali set a new pole record in the 125 class and holds a huge race advantage over his title rival Elias, who will have to make a great start from the fifth row of the grid if he is to challenge for honours tomorrow. The only two men able to get within a second of Poggiali´s best time were Cecchinello and Ui, who enjoyed an entertaining battle for second spot and both set times under Locatelli´s previous pole record at the circuit. Borsoi was one of the few riders able to make a clean break from a closely bunched pack on the last few laps, his effort proving just enough to knock De Angelis out of the final front row position.

500cc, 2001, Max Biaggi

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