Rossi prepares for Mugello showdown with first pole of 2008

2008-05-31 02:46
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 up 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.


After claiming second place on two occasions thus far in 2008, Hector Barbera finally secured an elusive pole position for the 250cc Gran Premio d´Italia Alice. Team Toth Aprilia´s Spanish star recorded an amazing late lap of 1´52.675, to beat nearest rival Alvaro Bautista by nearly eight-tenths of a second.

Barbera´s fourth pole of his 250cc tenure came during another dry session for the quarter litre class riders, benefitting from the immediate adaptability of his Aprilia machinery. Chasing his second victory in the class, he will undoubtedly face stiff competition from last year´s race winner Bautista.

Local rider Marco Simoncelli once again had a positive qualifying run, seemingly inseparable from Bautista this season. The Metis Gilera rider is on the front row for the second consecutive race, the first line completed by World Championship leader Mika Kallio.

Lukas Pesek, Manuel Poggiali, Alex Debon and Thomas Luthi make up the second row consisting of all-Italian manufacturers. Luthi and Poggiali both experienced crashes in the session, a fate that twice befell Polaris World´s Mattia Pasini at the beginning and end of the session.


A final minute shootout for the 125cc pole position was won by Raffaele de Rosa, taking his first ever qualifying top spot at his home circuit. The Italian Onde 2000 KTM rider was involved in a sprint to the line with reigning World Champion Gabor Talmacsi, both riders on hot laps worthy of pole position but De Rosa´s 2´19.259 just shading it.

Talmacsi was only 0.165 behind as he looked for his first pole position of the season, but had to settle for a fourth front row and a prime opportunity to take the holeshot in tomorrow´s race instead.

The late surge relegated Ajo Motorsport´s World Championship leader Mike di Meglio to third place for the third time this season, the place on the front row showing the Frenchman´s dry riding prowess after two successful wet races in Shanghai and Le Mans. The lack of precipitation on the track also meant that all riders were starting afresh from their Friday runs, with provisional poleman Pol Espargaro demoted to fourth.

Sergio Gadea heads the second line of attack, lining up alongside Sandro Cortese, Bradley Smith and title challenger Simone Corsi. In a familiar story for Smith this season, the Polaris World rider found the limits of his machine in the hardest possible way, crashing whilst chasing pole position. The highside left the Le Mans podium finisher with a fractured metatarsal and a wrist injury, although neither should affect his participation in Sunday´s race.

Source: Dorna

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