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Gibernau maintains Assen reign

Gibernau maintains Assen reign

Gibernau maintains Assen reign

One year on from his victory in torrentially wet conditions at Assen, Sete Gibernau left little doubt that he is again the man to beat at the Dutch circuit this weekend with a comprehensive provisional pole time under heavy rain this afternoon.

The current MotoGP World Championship leader made the best of the treacherous conditions, aggravated by blustery winds and temperatures as low as 12ºC, to set a quickest time of 2'12.540 and hold off another experienced Assen veteran, fellow Honda rider Alex Barros, by 1.183 seconds.

Ruben Xaus again raised a few eyebrows as he completed the provisional front row with the third fastest time on the Ducati but the surprise of the day came from his fellow MotoGP rookie Michel Fabrizio. The Italian youngster lapped fourth fastest on the WCM machine to head up the provisional second row from a host of senior rivals.

Although the conditions are expected to be similar tomorrow, the lap times are sure to drop significantly as the riders push for final grid positions. Ducati rider Troy Bayliss and Yamaha's Carlos Checa will be looking to force their way onto the front row after qualifying fifth and sixth fastest respectively today, whilst reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi will be confident of improving on seventh.

Colin Edwards, who won here to clinch the WSB title for current employers Honda in 2002, was eighth fastest and joins Yamaha's Rossi on the provisional third row, as does fellow American Kenny Roberts Jr. on the Suzuki. Marco Melandri crashed his Yamaha in the morning but recovered to qualify 16th fastest this afternoon, just eight days after undergoing an operation to relief compartmental syndrome in his right arm.


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