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Rossi smashes pole record on first day at Sepang

Rossi smashes pole record on first day at Sepang

Rossi smashes pole record on first day at Sepang

Valentino Rossi got back to business on the racetrack today in the best way he knows how, smashing the pole position record at the Sepang circuit aboard his Honda RC211V. The reigning MotoGP World Champion, who is aiming to retain his title with a seventh victory of the season here this weekend, set a time of 2'03.516 to hold off the challenge of Makoto Tamada, who continues to impress in a strong finish to his first season in the class.

With heavy overnight rain leaving the track cool and slightly damp in the morning, afternoon sunshine and temperatures reaching 34ºC tempted the riders to push hard early in the afternoon session and Troy Bayliss, Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri all crashed on the opening laps. All three escaped uninjured but they were unable to threaten the top positions in a session almost completely dominated by Honda riders.

Only Ducati rider Loris Capirossi was able to break the top seven positions, qualifying fourth fastest and completing the provisional front row behind Max Biaggi. Tohru Ukawa was fifth quickest ahead of Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden, with Yamaha rider Carlos Checa the next non-Honda in eighth place despite his crash. Kenny Roberts showed signs of improvement on the Suzuki, qualifying ninth fastest in the absence of his suspended team-mate John Hopkins. Jeremy McWilliams also had an encouraging day, qualifying 16th on the Proton KR V5 machine.

MotoGP, 2003, Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix

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