Gibernau on provisional pole for final round

Gibernau on provisional pole for final round

MotoGP championship runner-up, Sete Gibernau, claimed pole position from World Champion, Valentino Rossi in the dramatic final minute of the of today's qualifying in Valencia. Sete Gibernau. Photo by Richard Sloop. Though Rossi led...

MotoGP championship runner-up, Sete Gibernau, claimed pole position from World Champion, Valentino Rossi in the dramatic final minute of the of today's qualifying in Valencia.

Sete Gibernau.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
Though Rossi led most of the session, it was Gibernau's 1:33.531 lap that secured him provisional pole. Second place qualifier, Makoto Tamada, stormed into the front row in similar fashion; the Japanese ace qualifying only three thousandths of a second behind Gibernau. Rossi's counterattack was only good enough for a 1:33.795 and third place in the front row of the grid.

Troy Bayliss will not be returning to Ducati in 2005 and is currently rumored to be negotiating with Kawasaki. However, this did not keep the wild-riding Australian from putting on an awesome display. While Rossi may have led most of the session, it was Bayliss that trailed the Italian in second place for the better half. Sadly, when it came time for the qualifying tires, Bayliss's position did not improve and was instead relegated to fourth. Max Biaggi better pray for a "better" RCV from HRC when he joins the factory team in 2005, as his race pace and performance only gave him fifth place on the provisional grid. Loris Capirossi tried in vain to out-qualify his teammate; the diminutive Italian only able to qualify sixth fastest.

Colin Edwards flew the American flag, but was only seventh fastest. Edwards has signed to become #2 at Yamaha for 2005 so perhaps his motivation to perform well on the Honda just is not there. Suzuki has confirmed John Hopkins for 2005 and to repay them, Hopper qualified the fastest Suzuki; just three hundredths behind Edwards. Rounding up the third row is Kawasaki #1 rider, Shinya Nakano.

Today's MotoGP session did not go without drama and surprises. Barros crashed in the early stages of the session, while Kenny Roberts Jr. withdrew from the event after setting the fastest time in this morning's practice session. Roberts complained of weakness on his elbow, the result of a six-rider pile-up caused by Capirossi on the first lap at the Motegi GP. Rossi debuted the 2005 M1, or at least an update to the model he rode this season. The new model sported the new four-into-four exhaust system he tested after the Brno GP at the same track. However, the "old-style" front fairing remained.

This weekend's event will mark the end of the 2004 season. With the top three positions already locked in the championship, expect Rossi, Gibernau and Biaggi to ride for pride.

Stay tuned for more.

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