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Katoh brushes aside the competition to take pole in Sepang

Katoh brushes aside the competition to take pole in Sepang

Daijiro Katoh continued with his weekend of pure domination in the second qualifying practice here in Malaysia, brushing aside any hope of him losing his provisional pole position, setting a new pole record and stretching out a huge gap to all the other riders. Only Nieto was able to better Katoh´s time from yesterday, and that by a mere 0.016 seconds, Katoh himself sliced the majority of a second off his time, recording 2´08.151, an incredible lap taking into account the searing heat and heavy humidity.

At the same time as being the only rider to beat Katoh´s provisional pole time, Fonsi Nieto was also the only rider to get within a second of the Japanese Honda rider, his superb last lap showing that the fine imposed on him after yesterday´s qualifiers had not affected his concentration at all. Joining these two on the front row will be Katoh´s team-mate, Emilio Alzamora, who also recorded a magnificent last lap, and Roberto Rolfo. The Italian Aprilia rider was one of the last to finish, and his lap was just enough to knock Frenchman Randy de Puniet down the order.

The Equipe de France Aprilia rider will head the front row, and trailing him in sixth place is the only other rider with a chance of winning the title, Tetsuya Harada. The MS Aprilia rider is suffering from another bout of flu, and this was manifested in his time which was over 1.5 seconds slower than Katoh. It will now be down to getting a good start and hoping that Katoh´s is not so good, if he wants to prevent his compatriot from pulling away from the group, and running away with the title. The second row is completed by Harada´s Aprilia colleague, Roberto Locatelli and his team-mate Marco Melandri, the latter still suffering from the broken hand he suffered in Japan.

Row three will be headed by McWilliams, who was unable to reproduce his usual qualifying burst, as well as German Alex Hofmann, who is sandwiched in 11th place between the two home-supported Petronas Yamaha bikes of Malaysian Shahrol Yuzy and Japan´s Naoki Matsudo.

250cc, 2001, Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, QP1

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