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Birthday Boy Hayden celebrates with pole

Birthday Boy Hayden celebrates with pole

Birthday Boy Hayden celebrates with pole

Nicky Hayden celebrated his 24th birthday in fine style at the Sachsenring circuit today, taking pole position for the Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland with the fastest MotoGP lap in today's qualifying practice. Hayden clocked a time of 1'22.785 to hold off the challenge of Honda colleague Sete Gibernau by 0.101 seconds whilst Alex Barros, who crashed twice yesterday after setting the fastest time of the day, set the third quickest lap of the session to complete the front row. The Brazilian was denied the chance to challenge for pole in the closing minutes as he dropped his Honda for the third time this weekend.

"It's a nice way to celebrate my birthday but tomorrow's the big one – I'll have a slice of cake if I do well in the race!" smiled Hayden, who took his first pole position at the Red Bull US Grand Prix three weeks ago. "It's nice to take pole for the whole team. Laguna Seca was cool because it was my first pole but a lot of people said it was only because it was my home track. Here the other guys know the track much better than me so nobody can say that I didn't deserve it. In the race I'll just try to stay up front for as long as possible and go for it; we'll see what happens."

MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi recovered from a tricky opening day at the German track to move up from thirteenth on yesterday's time sheets to clinch a second row start in fourth place. Marco Melandri, who is currently second to the reigning World Champion in the rider standings, posted a quick final lap to gatecrash an all-Italian second row behind Rossi and ahead of Max Biaggi.

Colin Edwards suffered from similar set-up problems to his team-mate Rossi yesterday but also made progress today as he moved up two places to qualify seventh fastest. The American will be joined on the third row of the grid by Loris Capirossi and Kenny Roberts, who provisionally held pole position for much of the session at a circuit where he celebrated victory five seasons ago.

Roberts' Suzuki team-mate John Hopkins rode through the pain barrier today after it was confirmed that he has a broken a metatarsal bone in his foot caused by his crash in yesterday afternoon's second free practice session. The American qualified tenth fastest, taking advantage of Carlos Checa's misfortune as the Spaniard endured the most spectacular crash of the season so far.

Checa was making a challenge for pole position when he lost control at the top of the notorious turn twelve, a fast right-hander that comes after a series of left-hand bends. Checa was thrown into the air at high speed but miraculously returned to his pit box within minutes to take his second bike and qualify eleventh fastest. Hopkins and Checa are joined on the fourth row by Shinya Nakano, the fastest of a trio of Kawasaki riders with home favourite Alex Hofmann and wildcard Olivier Jacque just behind him in thirteenth and fourteenth respectively.


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