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Battaini continues his fast start in Welkom
Franco Battaini continued his surprise start to the new season in the first qualifying session of the quarter-litre category. He continued where he left off in Suzuka by claiming provisional pole after an intense battle with three other Aprilia riders, with the lead chopping and changing during the final ten minutes of the session.
Marco Melandri and Alex Debon made the early running, but with ten minutes remaining Battaini put himself top of the time sheets, showing he wanted to claim the provisional pole. Debon then again went faster than the Italian just under a minute later, and maintained his advantage, until three minutes from the end when Melandri again went quickest. On his next lap Battaini then produced what was to prove the session´s fastest, some three hundredths ahead of Melandri, and three tenths clear of Fonsi Nieto and Alex Debon.
Emilio Alzamora was the fastest Honda, qualifying fifth ahead of young Australian rider Casey Stoner, who in turn finished ahead of Elias and Rolfo. Raul Jara also enjoyed an excellent session, the Spaniard coming home tenth.
16 years ago