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Gibernau eclipses Melandri to seal inaugural Istanbul pole

Gibernau eclipses Melandri to seal inaugural Istanbul pole

Gibernau eclipses Melandri to seal inaugural Istanbul pole

Sete Gibernau became the first rider to lap quicker than Marco Melandri at the Istanbul Park circuit in this afternoon's single qualifying practice for the Grand Prix of Turkey, snatching pole position from his young team-mate on the final lap of an exciting afternoon session. Gibernau's time of 1'52.334 was enough to secure top spot thanks largely to a mistake from Melandri, who ran wide during his final pole assault after again dominating the time sheets throughout the majority of the day.

The Spaniard's fourth pole position of the season also puts him within touching distance of the BMW Award for the MotoGP Best Qualifier, with a 1.956 second advantage over Valentino Rossi and just one qualifying session remaining at Valencia in two weeks' time.

"From the first moment we came here I've felt comfortable with the track and the bike has been working well," reflected Gibernau. "It is very technical and has a bit of everything; I'm enjoying myself. When you are having fun everything else seems to come much easier and we're in good shape. This morning we ran almost a full race distance and in the afternoon I was able to put in a good qualifying lap so hopefully our progress can be confirmed in the warm-up tomorrow. I'm not obsessed about winning but I am about having a good race!".

Nicky Hayden responded to Melandri's challenge by recording the third fastest time of the afternoon session to complete an all-Honda front row. The American is tied on points with the Italian in the battle for the second place in the championship and, after lapping 1.268 seconds slower than his rival yesterday, he was able to close the gap down to just over five tenths today.

Colin Edwards, who trails the pair by eight points in the championship, will continue his quest for the runner-up spot from the second row of the grid in tomorrow's race after a close battle with his Yamaha colleagues Valentino Rossi and Toni Elías. Whilst Rossi will be launching his bid to equal Mick Doohan's record of twelve wins in a single season from fourth place, Elías made the most of a tow from Edwards on the final lap to line-up behind the American in sixth – improving his previous best ever qualifying performance from last weekend at Phillip Island by one place.

Makoto Tamada propelled himself several places up the grid with a final lap effort that was good enough for the seventh fastest time. The Japanese rider lines up ahead of Alex Barros and Carlos Checa on the third row, knocking his compatriot Shinya Nakano back to the fourth row ahead of Chris Vermeulen, who produced an impressive performance in only his second MotoGP appearance to out-qualify the experienced Max Biaggi. Lone Suzuki rider John Hopkins qualified fourteenth fastest despite suffering from a heavy cold, whilst it was announced that his team-mate this season Kenny Roberts, who is out of the final two rounds with a broken wrist injury, will not have his contract renewed by the factory next year.


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