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Rossi resumes island reign

Rossi resumes island reign

Rossi resumes island reign

Valentino Rossi continued his love affair with the Phillip Island circuit on Friday afternoon, setting provisional pole position for the Cinzano Australian Grand Prix in a bold statement of supremacy as he looks to complete a successful defence of his MotoGP crown. Despite icy temperatures and rain in the morning, strong winds opened the way for a bright and warm afternoon which saw Rossi stop the clock at 1'30.222.

The current World Champion can seal the title for the fourth time in a row with second place in Sunday's penultimate round of the season and his effort today dealt an early blow to his only rival, Sete Gibernau, who was 0.378 seconds adrift of the Italian in second place.

Even though Gibernau couldn't quite keep tabs on Rossi at the top, he was some way clear of Nicky Hayden in third place, with 0.777 seconds separating the Honda pair and a 1.155 gap covering Rossi and Hayden at either end of the provisional front row.

Previous success at this circuit in the World Superbike series seemed to benefit Colin Edwards and Ruben Xaus, who provisionally qualified at the head of the second row in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Xaus' performance was particularly impressive less than a year after a nasty crash here in preseason testing which saw the Spaniard hospitalised. His Ducati colleague Loris Capirossi also made a positive start to the weekend, qualifying sixth fastest at the track where he won his first ever 125cc World Championship back in 1990 to complete the provisional second row.

Marco Melandri escaped unhurt from a crash to qualify tenth fastest whilst home favourite Troy Bayliss, who last night announced that he will not be riding for Ducati beyond the end of the season, had a fall this morning and could only manage the twelfth fastest time in the afternoon.


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