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Capirossi, Katoh and Elias shoot to front on day one in Malaysia

Capirossi, Katoh and Elias shoot to front on day one in Malaysia

Loris Capirossi set a new pole record at Sepang and took prime spot on the provisional grid for the 500 race in this afternoon´s first qualifying practice for the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The Italian knocked Max Biaggi off the top of the time sheets with a best lap of 2´05.637 after the chequered flag had been waved, bettering his compatriot by 0.205 seconds. ´I´m happy to set the best time today because even though the title has been decided the fight is still on for second place between Biaggi, Barros and myself,´ said Capirossi. ´There are fifty points still available and I will be trying my best to take them. The humidity and heat are difficult to deal with here but you expect that when you come to Malaysia and it is the same for all the riders.´

Nakano set the third fastest time of the session to line up on the provisional front row ahead of newly crowned World Champion Rossi. McCoy was fifth fastest overall after a typically spectacular tyre sliding display and he heads a second row which also features Abe, Barros and Jacque in sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Kurtis Roberts made a disappointing debut in the 500 class, crashing out of the first qualifying practice on his first lap.

Daijiro Katoh has initiated his quest for a tenth win of the 2001 season and the 250cc World Championship title in determined fashion, dominating the first qualifying session and taking a comfortable provisional pole. Harada, Katoh´s only rival for the quarter-litre crown, crashed in this morning´s free practice and was unable to put any pressure on his Japanese compatriot this afternoon, eventually setting a late lap to move from thirteenth to seventh on the provisional grid. Perhaps the performance of the day came from De Puniet, consistently the fastest rider behind Katoh and a deserved second at the end of the session. With Melandri taking things steady due to a hand injury, McWilliams, Fonsi Nieto, Rolfo and Alzamora were left to battle it out for the remaining two front row spots and they repeatedly swapped positions in a hectic finale. McWilliams jumped from fifth to third on his last lap with Nieto eventually taking fourth.

Toni Elias sent a defiant message out to championship leader Poggiali, who he trails by 16 points, with provisional pole in the 125 class. The Spanish youngster set a new pole record of 2´15.358 to take the psychological advantage into tomorrow´s final qualifying session. Poggiali was eighth fastest today, his best lap 1.710 seconds slower than that of Elias. Ui, who also has an outside chance of the title, was second fastest at the end of a session which he dominated for long periods until Elias took action. Sabbatani and Cecchinello also stepped up the pace but were unable to better Ui and complete the provisional front row in third and fourth place respectively.

500cc, 2001, Loris Capirossi, Toni Elias

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