Gibernau takes home pole for MotoGP finale

Sete Gibernau will start the final round of the MotoGP World Championship from pole position after setting a new record time at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia today. Gibernau was comfortably the quickest rider at the scene of his debut victory four years ago, his fastest lap of 1'31.874 proving too fast for his closest challengers Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden, who again complete the top three in an exact replica of the front row at the last round in Turkey.

There was a major difference to the order behind them, however, with Valentino Rossi qualifying in fifteenth place - his lowest grid position of the season. Rossi was forced to use his second bike after crashing eleven minutes from the end of the session, effectively conceding the prize of a new M5 car to Gibernau in the BMW Award - MotoGP Best Qualifier 2005.

"Everyone has said that this has been a bad year, but I want to see it differently," commented Gibernau, who lies sixth in the championship and has yet to win a race this season. "We have actually been faster than ever, maybe even the fastest in the championship, but we just haven't had the results. I'm very happy because I feel we have been fast and consistent. We'll come back tomorrow to fight for the podium and hope to win the race."

Carlos Checa looks set for a strong performance in his swansong with Ducati after clinching the fourth spot on the grid, ahead of Italian veteran Max Biaggi. Colin Edwards out-qualified Yamaha team-mate Rossi for the first time this season after the Italian's untimely crash. The American lines up in sixth place for the second successive race as aims to end his first season with the factory by scoring his first MotoGP win.

Dani Pedrosa looks set to leave the 250cc class in style after setting a new pole record for his home race. Provisional pole setter Casey Stoner crashed in the early stages of the session and was unable to improve his time from yesterday, leaving Pedrosa to clinch top spot ahead of local favourite Héctor Barberá with a time of 1'35.298. Second place for Barberá represents his best ever grid position in the class and he is joined on the front row by Alex de Angelis and Jorge Lorenzo, with Stoner dropping back to the second row in seventh.

Thomas Lüthi will start from the front row of the 125cc grid as he aims to clinch the World Championship ahead of Mika Kallio. Lüthi needs to score three points in tomorrow's race to secure the title should Kallio win - and the rivals will start the race side by side after Kallio qualified third fastest, with Lüthi fourth. Local hero Sergio Gadea clinched his maiden pole position, beating Mattia Pasini by just three thousandths of a second on his last flying lap.

Photo: Honda Pro Image

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