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Rossi asserts his authority

Rossi asserts his authority

Rossi asserts his authority

There were a number of surprise candidates for provisional pole position in baking hot conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya today, but in the end Valentino Rossi re-affirmed his authority aboard the Honda RC211V, clocking a new pole record of 1´43.927 to distance himself by almost half a second from his nearest challenger. Aprilia rider Colin Edwards, Shinya Nakano on the Yamaha and Makoto Tamada, riding the Bridgestone-shod Honda, had all threatened to steal the headlines, but as the Italian stepped up the pace towards the end of the session the only true challenge came from his factory colleague Sete Gibernau and Loris Capirossi on the Ducati.

Capirossi eventually took second place on the provisional grid ahead of Gibernau, with the Spaniard faltering in the second half of a last lap pole attack. Nakano was relegated to fourth place by the duo, but tomorrow he will defend a possible front row start for the second consecutive week. Tamada had risen as high as third place but was dropped to the second row in fifth during the final scramble for times, whilst Max Biaggi edged ahead of Edwards for sixth. Alex Barros crashed out of a potential pole lap with around 15 minutes remaining and was unable to improve his time, although it was enough for the final second row position in eighth.

Further back, John Hopkins shrugged off the absence of his Suzuki team-mate Kenny Roberts and the effects of injuries sustained when the two clashed at Mugello on Sunday to qualify eleventh, whilst Kawasaki wildcard Akira Yanagawa out-qualified factory colleagues Andrew Pitt and Garry McCoy in fifteenth. Nobuatsu Aoki was dogged by mechanical problems for the Proton V5 throughout the session and only completed nine laps, although he did provisionally qualify for the race.

MotoGP, 2003, Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya

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