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Roberts returns to pole in Rio

 Roberts returns to pole in Rio

Roberts returns to pole in Rio

Kenny Roberts returned to the top of the MotoGP pile some four years after winning the World Championship at the Nelson Piquet circuit, setting pole position for the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix with a stunning new record. Roberts' lap of 1'48.418 represents a second pole position for tyre manufacturer Bridgestone since they joined MotoGP two seasons ago and means Suzuki will start Sunday's race, which starts at 11:30 local time (16:30 CET), from the front of the grid for the first time since Valencia 2000.

"Bridgestone came up with a great tyre that allowed me to make time up in the corner up which we lose down the straightaways," commented Roberts. "We've had a new motor for the last couple of races and we're making progress, just trying to make it back to where we know we can ride. It's a long road but at least today there was a little sunshine."

With Max Biaggi second fastest and Nicky Hayden third, there was no room on the front row for championship leaders Valentino Rossi or Sete Gibernau. Whilst Rossi struggled to adapt his Yamaha to the Jacarepagua track and qualified eighth fastest, Gibernau starts from the front of the second row in fourth place after running out of time when returning for a soft tyre at the end of the session.

Gibernau is joined on the second row by Honda colleague Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi, who recorded his best grid position of the season so far on the Ducati in sixth. Makoto Tamada, who scored his only podium here last year, heads up the third row from Rossi, who was comfortably the highest Yamaha of the day in eighth place, and Shinya Nakano on the Kawasaki.

MotoGP, 2004

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