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Gibernau untouched on pole

Gibernau untouched on pole

Gibernau untouched on pole

Sete Gibernau will start from pole position at the Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia on Sunday after his provisional qualifying time from Friday remained steadfast at the top of the time sheets in this afternoon's final qualifying session. Gibernau came closer than any of his rivals to improving on his Mugello pole record but, with track temperatures rising by around 3ºC and the riders interrupted by a red flag just eight minutes from the end caused by a crash for Kurtis Roberts, the Honda rider fell some 0.367 seconds short of his 1'49.553 benchmark.

Gibernau's Honda colleague Nicky Hayden was just 0.002 seconds slower than the Spaniard today as he rose five places from his provisional qualifying position to seal his first front row start of the season in second place. Meanwhile, after setting the fastest time in the morning free practice, Valentino Rossi was third quickest with a lap just 0.004 seconds slower than the American, sealing what would have been the closest ever top three qualification laps in MotoGP history were it not for Gibernau's effort yesterday.

Previously, Rossi's Yamaha colleague Marco Melandri had been the only other Italian rider to seriously threaten the front row before being bumped down the order by Hayden's late push and then Alex Barros, who edged out the youngster for top spot on the second row in fourth.

Melandri will no doubt be happy to start from fifth place at his home race, however, whilst his compatriot Max Biaggi may not feel the same way as he joins the 21 year old on the second row in sixth on board the Honda.

Bridgestone-shod Honda rider Makoto Tamada, who enjoyed his career best finish of fourth here last season after fighting back from nineteenth on the first lap, will be looking to make a better start this time around from seventh place, ahead of Loris Capirossi, the highest Ducati in eighth, and Kenny Roberts, who completes the third row on his Suzuki.

Elsewhere, Alex Hofmann equalled his best grid position on the Kawasaki in 13th place whilst Aprilia rider Shane Byrne qualified 17th fastest on his return to action after missing the last race with a broken hand. Kurtis Roberts escaped unhurt from his spectacular late crash, which burnt an air fence as his Proton KR V5 was engulfed by flames, and will start from 21st place, whilst the bad luck continued for Chris Burns, who failed to qualify on the WCM.


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