Rossi prepares for Mugello showdown with first pole of 2008

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Valentino Rossi ended his pole position drought as the sun shined on Mugello, taking the top spot for his home race.

The man with a perfect record of four stroke MotoGP victories at Mugello, Valentino Rossi will make his attempt at a seventh consecutive home win in Sunday´s Gran Premio d´Italia Alice from pole position. The five-time MotoGP World Champion was in inspired form as he negotiated his favourite circuit on the calendar, smashing the existing Saturday record by eight tenths of a second with a 1´48.130 lap.

For the rider who has seemingly done everything in the premier class, pole position signified a new milestone for the Fiat Yamaha rider. His first of the season and first with Bridgestone tyres, Rossi´s most recent top spot is also his fiftieth in the World Championship and keeps alive Yamaha´s dominant pole record thus far in 2008.

Rossi recorded his fastest lap with time to spare in the dry afternoon qualifying session, with no rider able to hang with the Italian favourite. Repsol Honda´s Dani Pedrosa came closest to dethroning the `King of Mugello´ with his final attempt, but fell just short with a time less than two-tenths of a second down on that of the current series leader.

Loris Capirossi completes the front row for the Sunday showdown, his first time on the frontline since joining Rizla Suzuki. Capirossi is the only rider on the grid besides Rossi to have won at Mugello, and will be gunning for his countryman when the lights go out.

2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner made it four different factories in the top four, heading the second row for home team Ducati Marlboro and lining up alongside Shanghai poleman Colin Edwards. Repsol Honda´s Nicky Hayden completes the second line of attack.

The leader of the BMW M Award for combined qualifying results, Jorge Lorenzo nonetheless starts from his lowest grid position since moving up to MotoGP. In seventh place at the top of row three, the Spaniard will have to storm through the field to try and catch Fiat Yamaha teammate Rossi. Heading into the first corner, he may also bash fairings with Tech 3 Yamaha´s James Toseland and San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Shinya Nakano, who join him in the eighth and ninth grid placings, respectively.

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