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Dry spell suits Rossi at Assen

Dry spell suits Rossi at Assen

Dry spell suits Rossi at Assen

The black clouds which have loomed over the Assen circuit virtually unbroken since the MotoGP teams arrived earlier in the week began to crack today as the summer sun finally prepared a stage on which Valentino Rossi could shine.

The current World Champion had struggled to find a wet set-up for his Yamaha but wasted no time as the track surface dried during an extended dry spell this afternoon, clocking a new pole position record of 1'58.758 to take top spot from his team-mate Carlos Checa by 0.682 seconds.

"It was an incredible last lap on the qualifying tyre," explained Rossi, who is chasing his third successive victory. "For the first part of the lap I was not so fast but in the last two sections I really pushed hard.

"It was a good session because we worked on the set-up and it is incredible that the Yamaha has reached this level by the time we arrive in Assen. It was not so easy in the wet this morning and I really hope it's dry for the race tomorrow."

Current World Championship leader Sete Gibernau, who holds a slender five-point advantage over Rossi which would be relinquished with victory for the Italian in tomorrow's race, was third fastest and completes the front row on the Honda.

Marco Melandri continued his good form despite only undergoing an operation on his arm last week to join Rossi and Checa in making it three Yamahas in the top four, whilst Shinya Nakano again showed devastating qualifying pace on the Kawasaki with fifth, a new best grid position for the Ninja ZX-RR. Honda rider Alex Barros crashed early in the session but recovered to qualify sixth fastest, completing the second row.

Kenny Roberts was fastest at the end of the morning free practice when the wet track first began to dry and continued his form in the afternoon, sealing seven spot with a modified version of the Suzuki GSV-R engine which features a revised firing order. Team-mate John Hopkins is still using the ‘standard' motor but backed up a strong record here to qualify in the top ten behind Honda rider Makoto Tamada and Ruben Xaus on the Ducati.

Tamada's team-mate Max Biaggi, who finished second last year, will have to make up positions from twelfth on the grid as he desperately tries to stay in the title chase, whilst last year's pole setter Loris Capirossi was over a second off his qualifying time from last year on the Ducati and will be looking for a good start from the fifth row in fifteenth position.


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