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Rossi holds off Bayliss for provisional pole

Rossi holds off Bayliss for provisional pole

Rossi holds off Bayliss for provisional pole

Valentino Rossi asserted his authority over pretenders to his Donington Park throne with a new pole record at the Leicestershire circuit in sunny and warm conditions this afternoon. The MotoGP World Champion clocked a best time of 1'31.196 aboard the Honda RC211V, beating his own previous best here on the same machine by around half a second, to see off the challenge of former World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss, who had snatched top spot with just a couple of minutes remaining of the session.

MotoGP rookie Bayliss, who had crashed out in the morning free practice, has plenty of experience at this circuit and put his local knowledge to good use to revive his flagging fortunes on the Ducati Desmosedici. Although Bayliss' time was not enough to deny Rossi, it withstood pressure from Sete Gibernau and Carlos Checa to hold firm in second spot, as the two Spaniards completed the provisional front row on the Honda and the Yamaha.

Loris Capirossi flirted briefly with the top positions but was pushed out to the second row in fifth place as the battle for positions intensified over the final few laps. Olivier Jacque was another victim of the late push for times, losing a place on the front row in the dying stages after lapping consistently quick times throughout the session.

Tohru Ukawa and Colin Edwards came through to seal seventh and eight place respectively as just three tenths of a second separated the provisional second row. Max Biaggi, Alex Barros, Noriyuki Haga and Nicky Hayden all lapped under lap record time to complete the top twelve and seal provisional third row starts.

There were impressive showings further down the field as Jeremy McWilliams provisionally qualified in 18th place on the infantile four-stroke Proton V5, just 2.190 seconds down on Rossi, despite insisting he would rather ride the team's old two-stroke. Chris Burns would no doubt like to switch places with his British compatriot after being forced to ride a 1993 two-stroke 500cc ROC Yamaha for the first time with the WCM team, but the 22 year old did a sterling job to qualify in 23rd place. Burns' Spanish team-mate David De Gea also impressed, qualifying 24th fastest on an old Sabre V4.

MotoGP, 2003, Cinzano British Grand Prix

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