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Rossi to start 75th Gauloises TT Assen from pole

Rossi to start 75th Gauloises TT Assen from pole

Rossi to start 75th Gauloises TT Assen from pole

Valentino Rossi will start from pole position for the fourth time this season as he searches for his six win from seven rounds in tomorrow's 75th anniversary Gauloises TT Assen. The MotoGP World Champion, who leads current the series by 58 points over Marco Melandri, was in stunning form at the end of an incident packed qualifying practice held in scorching temperatures touching 36ºC.

Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri, Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden and Loris Capirossi all posted fast laps with around six minutes remaining before a moment of bizarre calm before the final storm as several riders, including Rossi, coasted around waiting for clear track before launching their final pole attacks. Rossi timed his run to perfection, clocking a lap of 1'58.936 to scupper an effort from Gibernau, the only rival who managed to seriously threaten the Italian's dominance.

"I was lucky because I was able to use my qualifying tyres to 100%," reflected Rossi after the session. "With the first one I set a 1'59.4, which was a great lap, but I looked at it and thought maybe I could go a little faster. I had to wait a while because there were a lot of riders waiting for me on the last lap but I left it until the last moment and set another very good lap in 1'58. I'm happy to be on pole position because tomorrow for sure will be a hard race. We'll wait to see what the weather does but if the temperatures are like today it will be very tough for the riders and the tyres."

The heat continued to rise after the practice had finished, with Melandri coming together with Honda colleague Max Biaggi in an ugly clash on the final lap, when he accused his fellow Italian of deliberately blocking his passage. Despite being unable to improve his fastest lap up to that point, Melandri's previous best was enough for the final slot on the front row alongside Rossi and Gibernau.

Shinya Nakano's surprise surge to the top of the time sheets after just seven laps of the session was followed by another quick time on the final lap which was enough for his best grid position on the Kawasaki in fourth place. The Japanese rider relegated Hayden to fifth after the American's pole effort faded in the final two sections, with Edwards completing the second row in sixth place.

Loris Capirossi was unable to defend his place at the top of the time sheets after setting the pace in yesterday's free practice, eventually dropping to seventh place. The Italian is joined on the third row of the grid by Alex Barros and Max Biaggi, who also collided with Franco Battaini earlier in the session after running straight at one of the recently modified corners. Whilst Biaggi managed to stay on board his Honda, Battaini crashed spectacularly from his WCM although he escaped uninjured.


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