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Harada wrests pole from Katoh with just seconds remaining

Harada wrests pole from Katoh with just seconds remaining

There was another dramatic finish to the 250cc Final Qualifying Practice today as Tetsuya Harada slashed just under a second off his previous best on his penultimate lap, to take pole for tomorrow´s Qantas Australian Grand Prix. He snatched the lead grid position from under the nose of Daijiro Katoh who had left it too late to leave the pit and set a competitive time, and saw second place suddenly become third as Jeremy McWilliams sneaked in ahead of him. It is Harada´s eighth podium of the year, and his seventh from the last eight races.

The Aprilia rider has been in sparkling form this season, and the only thing preventing him from the 250 title this season has been the class of Daijiro Katoh. However, the Motegi win has put him back within firing distance of his compatriot, who was consigned to the ground there. He will be hoping that pole position gives him the impetus to close the gap to Katoh even more, and reduce the 24-point deficit.

Second on the grid Jeremy McWilliams will be delighted with his performance, after having proved himself a fighting force all season more often in qualifying than the race. Melandri´s absence allowed him to get his bike into top nick and take his best start of the season. Katoh eventually claimed third spot ahead of Roberto Locatelli, who also profited from Melandri´s injury.

The second row will be made up from a consistent Nieto, a grid-best equalling Battaini, an infinitely best qualifying position for Hofmann and Argentinean Sebastian Porto on the highest-placed Yamaha. The third row is Checa, Alzamora, Rolfo and De Puniet.

250cc, 2001, Qantas Australian Grand Prix, QP1

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