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Rossi recovers rule at Donington Park

Rossi recovers rule at Donington Park

Rossi recovers rule at Donington Park

Valentino Rossi re-established his reign at the Donington Park circuit with pole position for the Cinzano British Grand Prix on Saturday after provisional holder Nicky Hayden failed to improve his time. Rossi's effort of 1'28.720 represents a new record at the Leicestershire circuit, with nineteen riders dipping below last year's pole time set by Max Biaggi.

Honda rider Sete Gibernau was the closest of them to Rossi, lapping 0.432 seconds slower than his Yamaha rival to join the front row of the grid ahead of Loris Capirossi on the Ducati.

Capirossi's late effort knocked Troy Bayliss down to fourth place, giving him the honour of sealing Ducati's first front row of the season instead of his Australian team-mate. However, Bayliss will start from his best grid position so far this year on the second row, where he is joined by Honda pair Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden.

Sixth place for Hayden represents a disappointment after his provisional pole yesterday but the American youngster won't be too disheartened after his charge to the podium from ninth on the grid in Germany six days ago.

Hayden's fellow podium finishers from the Sachsenring, race winner Max Biaggi and Honda colleague Alex Barros, both qualified on the third row in eighth and ninth place respectively behind Yamaha rider Carlos Checa. Barros had gone fastest in the morning free practice with the latest prototype RC211V, which features a new exhaust system, but crashed it in the early stages of the final qualifying session and had to set his qualification lap on the old version of the bike.

Elsewhere, Marco Melandri fought through the pain barrier to qualify tenth fastest after breaking his thumb in a crash yesterday morning. Melandri did not ride in today's free practice as he is only permitted one painkilling injection per day and decided to save it until the afternoon, although another crash late in the session cast a shadow over his chances for tomorrow's race.

Neil Hodgson was the highest-placed home rider in fourteenth place on the Ducati although Aprilia team-mates Shane Byrne and Jeremy McWilliams were two of the riders to beat Biaggi's '03 pole record in an intensely competitive session.


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