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Checa clinches historic pole in Qatar

Checa clinches historic pole in Qatar

Checa clinches historic pole in Qatar

Carlos Checa will make history as the first man ever to start a MotoGP race from pole position in Qatar on Saturday after setting the fastest time in the final qualifying session at the Losail International Circuit this afternoon.

The battle for top spot on the grid started as early as the seventh minute of the session, when vastly improved track conditions allowed Sete Gibernau to swiftly dislodge provisional pole holder Ruben Xaus. Eventually Xaus' time would be bettered by some 2.4 seconds as a host of riders took their turn at the top of the time sheets, culminating with a series of hot laps at the end of the session from Checa and a decisive pole time of 1'58.988.

Alex Barros pulled a fast time out of the bag on his last lap to gatecrash the front row in second place, relegating Sete Gibernau to third after the Spaniard's own late pole attack faltered in the final corner. Barros' effort knocked his team-mate Nicky Hayden off the front row, the American dropping to fourth place ahead of Shinya Nakano and Loris Capirossi.

Despite his early optimism and an improvement of almost two seconds on his provisional time today, Xaus was eventually forced back to the front of the third row in seventh place. He is joined by current World Champion and series leader Valentino Rossi, who was over half a second off the pace of his Yamaha team-mate Checa as he qualified back in eighth.

Troy Bayliss made huge strides to move up to ninth on the grid, knocking 4.5 seconds off his provisional time, whilst Colin Edwards suffered the biggest disappointment of the afternoon as he slipped to tenth despite being the fastest man in the morning practice, when he became the first rider to complete a lap of this circuit in less than two minutes.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, QP2

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