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Capirossi takes early advantage in Italian battle

Capirossi takes early advantage in Italian battle

Capirossi takes early advantage in Italian battle

Loris Capirossi made a typical last gasp surge for provisional pole position for his first ever home Grand Prix riding the Ducati Desmosedici at Mugello today, edging out compatriots Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi in a dramatic first qualifying session. The former 250cc World Champion, who was born just 150km down the road in Borga Rivola, took victory here two years ago and holds the early advantage on two fronts this weekend, having also established himself as the prime candidate for the weekend's other big prize, the All Time Speed Record presented by Gericom. His top speed of 328.9km/h officially makes the Desmosedici the fastest ever motorcycle in MotoGP history, although the other riders have two more days to dislodge the Italian as the first winner of a high performance laptop from the Austrian notebook manufacturer.

Max Biaggi also launched a late assault on series leader Rossi, who had led comfortably throughout the session. Biaggi fell just a fraction of a second short through the final section, however, and had to settle for third place behind his Italian compatriots. Sete Gibernau continued his good form on the factory Honda and completed the provisional front row in fourth.

Carlos Checa heads up an all-Yamaha second row in fifth place, 0.336 seconds off the pace of Capirossi. Around four tenths cover Checa, Alex Barros, Shinya Nakano and Marco Melandri, who continues to impress in just his third appearance on the M1. Makoto Tamada sprang a surprise when he rose as high as third place in the early stages of the session despite never having seen this circuit before today. However, the Japanese Honda RC211V rider eventually dropped back to a highly respectable ninth as the pace heated up towards the end.

Tamada´s fellow Bridgestone rider Jeremy McWilliams was the other surprise package of the day, qualifying in 16th place in his first full session aboard the brand-new four-stroke Proton V5. McWilliams was less than two seconds off the pole time set by Capirossi, a remarkable achievement for a machine which only made its track debut two weeks ago at Le Mans.

MotoGP, 2003, Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia

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