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Rossi takes 9th pole of the year, 15th front row start and new BMW to boot

Rossi takes 9th pole of the year, 15th front row start and new BMW to boot

Rossi takes 9th pole of the year, 15th front row start and new BMW to boot

Valentino Rossi is the fastest rider in MotoGP qualification once again, taking his ninth pole position and 15th front row start from 16 Grand Prix. The fastest lap ever by a motorcycle at the Valencia circuit under breezy but sunny conditions set by the Italian also clinched the BMW Award for the 24 year old who must now be looking around for what else he could possibly win in one season. His reward was the stunning new Z4 roadster, presented to him at the circuit on Saturday evening by Axel Zimmerman of BMW.

As per usual the one hour session was all about the final ten minutes. Rossi held the top spot for most of the period sharing the front row with team-mate Nicky Hayden, Sete Gibernau and Aprilia's Colin Edwards who slotted in some sticky qualification tyres half way through the chrono. The American, in his last ride with the Italians before apparently switching to Honda for 2004, was eventually knocked down the order to a nevertheless impressive 7th position and second row start.

Gibernau, riding at his third home GP of the season and at the venue where he clinched his debut victory back in 2001, seemed to be heading toward his second ever pole with only four minutes remaining. The Honda rider was then bumped to second with Rossi's very last lap and only second rapid circulation using a qualifying tyre.

The ‘Doctor', who is widely tipped to announce his departure from Honda to Yamaha tomorrow and is at the centre of a busy paddock negotiating new deals for '04, was decked out in a new psychedelic paint scheme for the weekend.

Loris Capirossi, Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi raised their game in the fading moments to each barge onto the front row at different stages as the order frantically switched around and Nicky Hayden, whose ascendancy of speed, confidence and results in the latter half of the season has been nothing short of excellent, seemed to be peaking with a lap that pushed him up to fourth and his first ever front line start in MotoGP. Capirossi grabbed third as Checa ended up fifth and leading the second row ahead of Biaggi, Edwards and Alex Barros.

MotoGP, 2003, Gran Premio Marlboro de la Comunitat Valenciana

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