Barros on pole position for Portuguese GP

Barros maintained his control over the rest of the MotoGP riders by proving he was the man to beat during morning practice and taking pole position this afternoon at Estoril, Portugal. The last few minutes of qualifying saw Carlos Checa, Sete ...

Barros maintained his control over the rest of the MotoGP riders by proving he was the man to beat during morning practice and taking pole position this afternoon at Estoril, Portugal.

The last few minutes of qualifying saw Carlos Checa, Sete Gibernau and Alex Barros fighting for the top spot. But at the end of the day, pole position was destined for the Brazilian, the same person who had dominated all the previous practice sessions.

Barros's lap was seven tenths of a second faster than the previous lap record held by Makoto Tamada, who incidentally qualified 20th for this year's GP.

Sete Gibernau qualified second, a tenth behind Barros. However, the Spaniard was noticeably still suffering from the injury he sustained at the opening round of the season at Jerez. To make things worse, Gibernau crashed during today's free practice, which further injured his already tender shoulder. During the qualifying press-conference he warned that he would not be able to fight for the win as he doubted his shoulder would allow him to maintain the race-pace for 28 laps.

For the first time this season, a Ducati will adorn the front row. Checa was not able to fend off the charges from Barros and Gibernau, but still held third place on the grid for tomorrow's GP.

The second row will be led by the reigning World Champion, Valentino Rossi. The Italian tried, but ultimately was not able to get rid off the four tenths of a second gap to Barros's amazing pole position. Rossi's compatriots, Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi, will sit next to him on the grid. The youngest of the Italian trio qualified six tenths behind the pole-sitter, while the oldest qualified a farther two tenths behind.

Rossi's teammate, Colin Edwards, will lead the third row, followed by HRC-Repsol teammates, Max Biaggi and Nicky Hayden.

Looking at the lap-per-lap analysis, Barros still has the upper hand over the rest. During qualifying he set six laps in the 38-second range, more than any other rider in the top-three positions.

Estoril is famous for being unpredictable. Anything can happen, from wind to rain, to thundershowers, to bright sunshine. The weather forecasts say there is a 50% chance of rain; let us hope it does not happen between 1:00 and 2:00pm local time.

Stay tuned for more.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Alex Barros , Sete Gibernau , Makoto Tamada , Marco Melandri