Gauloises Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards both lapped inside the previous pole record time at Phillip Island today in a highly competitive battle for grid positions ahead of tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. Rossi shaved almost six tenths off the record time he set here two years ago to secure a front row start in second place behind pole setter Nicky Hayden (Honda). Team-mate Edwards was in equally impressive form, knocking almost two seconds off his best effort from yesterday as he became one of only five riders to dip under the 1'30 mark at the legendary track.
After tussling with Carlos Checa (Ducati) at the top of the time sheets for the majority of the session, Rossi launched his attack for pole in the final few minutes but was held up by another rider in the final two corners of his fastest lap. The Italian chose not to finish the lap and came in to switch to a fresh tyre for one last attempt, which didn't quite match the pace of his first and fell 0.106 seconds short of Hayden's record-breaking effort of 1'29.337. Edwards improved as the session progressed, ironing out some set-up difficulties with the YZR-M1 before clocking his personal best time at this circuit and sealing a second row start in fifth place.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd -- 1'29.443 31 laps)
"I was quite confident for pole position because the team have done a great job with the bike this weekend and it worked well from yesterday. I lost my best opportunity to take pole when I was held up by Xaus in the final corner; I tried to overtake him but I wasn't able to so I came in and tried again with another tyre. Anyway, sometimes that happens. I tried my best and my lap time was very fast but in the end Nicky was faster so congratulations to him -- it was a great ride. I am quite happy because the bike is good and second place is not so bad. It will be a hard race, especially for the tyres, but hopefully the good weather will continue tomorrow!"
COLIN EDWARDS (5th -- 1'29.943 28 laps)
"When you look back to yesterday the situation today is miles better. It looked like we were going to have a rough weekend but the team have worked really hard and we've worked the majority of the problems out. The truth is that we've still got room for improvement but if we can make progress in tomorrow's warm-up in the same way we moved forward today then we should be in even better shape for the race. I must admit that I'm a little relieved because it's a big race for me and after the first couple of practice sessions I wasn't too confident. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I can put on a good show for the family, friends and fans who have come down to support me."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"There was a lot of traffic on the track today and a lot of riders trying to follow Valentino to set a good time. The penultimate tyre he used was probably the best, but he got held up by Xaus and he was very sensible to come in and take a fresh tyre for another attempt. Anyway, even without the pole position Valentino has shown himself to be very strong today and he has a good race pace. Colin has also taken some big steps forward since yesterday, so we are confident both our riders can have a good day tomorrow. We have already won the Riders' and Teams' titles and we hope we can complete the trio with the Manufacturers' championship tomorrow."