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Gibernau takes emotional pole in name of Kato

Gibernau takes emotional pole in name of Kato

Gibernau takes emotional pole in name of Kato

Sete Gibernau today honoured the memory of his team-mate Daijiro Kato in the most appropriate way possible, with a spirited pole position for the Arnette Africa's Grand Prix. Gibernau rose to the top of the time sheets with just under 20 minutes remaining of the session, continually improving his time to hold off an intense all-Italian challenge from Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi. Gibernau eventually knocked a massive 1.455 seconds off the pole record at the Phakisa Freeway, and tomorrow he will start the race from the front of the grid for the second time in his career – his only other previous pole being at this same circuit at the start of the 2000 season.

Capirossi's pole attack was effectively ended when he crashed his number one bike with just ten minutes remaining of the session, although he did improve his time with a desperate last lap effort on his second machine to seal a front row spot for Ducati. Capirossi will line up behind the Hondas of Rossi and Biaggi, who qualified second and third respectively.

After qualifying ninth yesterday Shinya Nakano made steady progress throughout the session and was up to third place before being dislodged from the front row in the final minutes. The Japanese rider qualified as the highest Yamaha rider, heading the second row in fifth place from the Honda of last year's winner Tohru Ukawa in sixth. Nakano's factory colleague Carlos Checa also made significant progress from a provisional position of thirteenth to qualify seventh, ahead of the fast-improving Aprilia of Colin Edwards.

The World Superbike Champion's team-mate Noriyuki Haga crashed but was uninjured and is one of nineteen riders who will start tomorrow's race having qualified within the circuit lap record time. Just 2.392 seconds cover the grid from pole position to last place, occupied by 2000 winner Garry McCoy.

MotoGP, 2003, Arnette Africa's Grand Prix

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