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Gibernau leads Spanish rule at Le Mans

Gibernau leads Spanish rule at Le Mans

Gibernau leads Spanish rule at Le Mans

After a first day dominated by American riders Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden at Le Mans, Sete Gibernau and Carlos Checa today secured Spanish superiority at the front of MotoGP grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix Polini de France. Whilst neither Edwards or Hayden managed to improve their times in hot and sticky conditions at the Bugatti circuit, Gibernau shook off the effects of a fever to storm to a new pole record of 1'33.425.

Yamaha rider Checa clinched second place to join his compatriot on the front row, the first time ever that two Spaniards have qualified in the top two positions for a premier-class Grand Prix.

Max Biaggi qualified third fastest on the Honda to clinch the final front row position, with Valentino Rossi struggling to fourth place and lining up on the second row of the grid for the first time since the third round of last season at Jerez.

Edwards' provisional pole time was enough for a second row start alongside Rossi in fifth place, whilst Honda colleague Nicky Hayden was relegated to the third row in seventh by Marco Melandri, the third Yamaha rider to qualify in the top six.

Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss showed signs of progression with the 2004 version Desmosedici, both lapping inside the top ten although eventually being bumped down to ninth and tenth respectively after a late effort from Honda rider Makoto Tamada to clinch eighth.

Alex Barros, who finished on the podium here last year, qualified in a disappointing eleventh place despite being less than a second off Gibernau as the top seventeen riders lapped inside Valentino Rossi's 2003 pole time.

MotoGP rookie Shane Byrne did not take part in this afternoon's session and will not start tomorrow's race after struggling all weekend with a hand injury. The British Superbike Champion broke a bone in his right hand in a crash at Jerez two weeks ago but is hopeful it will recover in time for the next round at Mugello in a fortnight.

Byrne's compatriots Neil Hodgson and Chris Burns also crashed today, although both riders escaped unhurt.


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