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Rossi irrepressible on first day at Sachsenring

Rossi irrepressible on first day at Sachsenring

Rossi irrepressible on first day at Sachsenring

Valentino Rossi shrugged off his first crash of the entire season in the first free practice session for the Cinzano Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland this morning to set the fastest time in the afternoon and clinch provisional pole position for Sunday's race. With partly cloudy but dry conditions replacing the heavy rain and thunderstorms from yesterday, the Italian left it until the very last lap to dislodge compatriot Max Biaggi from the top of the time sheets with a time of 1'24.335. Biaggi had dominated for the first half of the session before factory colleagues Rossi and Sete Gibernau and Yamaha duo Shinya Nakano and Carlos Checa briefly took turns at the top of the time sheets. With just minutes remaining Jeremy McWilliams looked the man most like to oust Biaggi, lapping within 0.042 seconds of pole on the two-stroke KR3 machine, but it was Rossi once again with a typically late surge who grabbed the headlines.

Despite his frustration at coming so close to top spot McWilliams will be more than happy with a provisional front row slot, as will Checa, who qualified 0.323 seconds behind the Ulsterman in fourth. Troy Bayliss, sporting a new shaven-headed look, made significant progress late in the session to qualify fifth fastest on the Ducati. The Australian is joined on the second row by Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri and Norick Abe, who is making just his fourth appearance of the season with Yamaha as a wildcard.

Alex Barros had sufficiently recovered from an operation on a bone he broke in his hand just two weeks ago to clock up 47 laps on his Yamaha today and qualify in eleventh place despite heavy strapping on the injury. World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards had a scare this morning when his Aprilia caught fire and he was forced to abandon ship at high speed. The American escaped with scorched leathers and slightly burnt confidence although he was able to ride in the afternoon and qualified in sixteenth.

MotoGP, 2003, Cinzano Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland

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