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Rossi in control as Barros challenge fades

Rossi in control as Barros challenge fades

Rossi in control as Barros challenge fades

Valentino Rossi took an ultimately comfortable provisional pole position for the Grand Prix Polini de France despite the best efforts of Alex Barros. The World Champion dominated the first qualifying practice in sunny and dry conditions at Le Mans this afternoon, with many riders pushing hard in the light of local weather forecasts predicting rain tomorrow. Only Barros truly threatened Rossi's dominance, however, briefly dislodging the Honda rider from the top of the time sheets with five minutes remaining only to crash his Yamaha on the very next lap and return to his pit box with the Italian back in control. Rossi improved on Barros' time and then lapped half a second quicker to set a time of 1´35.208, almost a full second within the previous pole record and 0.777 clear of the Brazilian.

Loris Capirossi continued his good qualifying form on the Ducati as he set the third fastest time of the session, whilst Barros' factory Yamaha colleague Marco Melandri was simply outstanding as he snatched the final front row slot in fourth. The 250cc World Champion crashed at the end of the session but thankfully emerged unscathed as he continues to recuperate from the leg injuries which forced him to miss the first two races of his rookie MotoGP season.

Melandri´s team-mate Carlos Checa flirted with the front row before settling for sixth spot behind Max Biaggi, whilst factory HRC riders Sete Gibernau and Tohru Ukawa complete the second row. MotoGP debutante Ryuichi Kiyonari provisionally qualified for the race in 23rd position.

MotoGP, 2003, Grand Prix Polini de France

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