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Rossi smashes pole record at Donington Park

Rossi smashes pole record at Donington Park

Rossi smashes pole record at Donington Park

After recording his worst result of the season so far with third place in Laguna Seca two weeks ago, Valentino Rossi was firmly back on top of the MotoGP pile with a stunning new pole record at Donington Park on Saturday afternoon. In warmer temperatures than yesterday's free practice and with dry track conditions Rossi beat his own previous best at this circuit by almost a full second as he scorched to a lap of 1'27.897, some 0.285 seconds quicker than his closest challenger Sete Gibernau. Sunday's race will be the third time Rossi has started from pole position at this racetrack and on each of the previous two occasions he has gone on to take victory.

"I think for tomorrow everybody will be waking up and hoping for good weather because yesterday we lost a lot of time because of the rain," said Rossi. "Today the situation was better, it was a few degrees warmer and when the conditions are like this it is a great pleasure to ride at Donington Park. With the MotoGP bike it is incredible, one of my favourite tracks, and I always go very well here. I am happy because I was able to do a great lap – almost one second faster than last year. The bike is quite good and the feeling is not bad, also with the race configuration. For sure the race will be hard but we will try to fix a few last things in the morning and I hope to do well".

Whilst second place for Gibernau represented a huge improvement on his qualifying performance from Laguna Seca, where he started from 13th on the grid, the Spaniard is sure to come under pressure from the men behind him, with the top fourteen qualifiers all lapping inside Colin Edwards' circuit record this afternoon. The closest of those is Gibernau's team-mate, Marco Melandri, who clinched third place to secure his sixth front row start of the season.

Alex Barros will start his milestone 250th Grand Prix from fourth place and the Brazilian is joined on the second row by American pair Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards, who took first and second place respectively in the last round. Hayden is looking to become the first rider to follow up a debut success with a consecutive victory since Kenny Roberts in 1999. Troy Bayliss backed up his improved results at Laguna Seca with the seventh fastest time in today's qualifying session, with Max Biaggi and Makoto Tamada joining the Australian on an all-Honda third row.

After lapping third fastest yesterday Suzuki rider John Hopkins was unable to repeat his performance today and slipped to tenth on the time sheets, signifying a fourth row start in front of the large support provided by his English family and friends. Loris Capirossi and Shinya Nakano complete the fourth row of tomorrow's grid for the ninth round of the championship.


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