Rossi leads Yamaha's 1-2 for Estoril grid

Valentino Rossi came up with the pole position in Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix in the qualifying session for the sixteenth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship (MotoGP). Camel Yamaha team second rider, Colin Edwards, took...

Valentino Rossi came up with the pole position in Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix in the qualifying session for the sixteenth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship (MotoGP). Camel Yamaha team second rider, Colin Edwards, took second place in the final stages of the session, right ahead of championship leader, Nicky Hayden.

"With the championship as it is now I think it was fundamental to be on pole position today and for Colin to qualify second is perfect - I am really pleased for him and all his guys," said Rossi. " We've worked hard this weekend because the right setting was quite difficult to find and all the team had to give 100% so I'm really thankful to them and to Michelin for a great tyre."

Rossi set a laptime of 1:36.200 to lead the field in tomorrow's starting grid for his fourth pole this season. Edwards completed Yamaha's 1-2 just 0.278 seconds from the polesitter, while Hayden finished 0.349 slower than the Italian.

"It's a fantastic feeling to be back on the front row and running with consistent times that we know can make us competitive in the race. Hats off to my team and to Michelin as well, because we had a lot of help from them today," said Edwards.

"After Motegi we stayed and tested and finally figured out the little piece of the puzzle that has been missing all year. Now the bike feels easy to ride -- I can push it to the limit, even go over the limit, and I don't know how to thank the guys enough," Edwards explained about the recent improvements to the YZR-M1. "Personally I feel good and feel that I'm riding great. Tomorrow looks like it's going to be really interesting so hopefully I can play my part for the team and we'll see what happens."

Hayden knows that he is up against his main rival for this year's title: "This is definitely the best my bike has felt for a few races and I'm enjoying riding more this weekend than I have in a while. Tomorrow's race is going to be a shoot-out and I think all the fans at home should get ready for it and take the phones off the hook because it's going to be a good one."

Second row belongs to Hayden's teammate, Dani Pedrosa, and Casey Stoner, who was fastest on Friday's practice. John Hopkins, with the Rizla Suzuki slotted sixth.

Japanese rider Shinya Nakano, who was announced not to continue next year in Kawasaki, took seventh followed by both Spaniards, Sete Gibernau and Carlos Checa, in a strong performance with the Yamaha of team Tech 3.

Loris Capirossi, winner of the last race in Japan, reached tenth place in a poor weekend so far with the Marlboro Ducati. "We did a very good job on set-up, to the extent that we were among the fastest this morning. But then we ran into some tyre endurance problems, so we modified the set-up some more to try and help tyre life but that made the bike difficult to ride, so we went back a step with the settings," explained Capirossi.

"It is clear that we are not in the best of shape here, but I know Bridgestone and the team are as committed as ever to giving us what we need. The problem is the new tarmac which has been laid at the most crucial parts of the track - it's like a bad joke for us," added the Italian. "Let's hope that the weather forecasts that predict rain are correct!"

Ilmor's new 800cc bike, with Garry McCoy as rider, ended up in the final spot of the timesheet in their MotoGP debut.

For Sunday's penultimate race in the 2006 season, Rossi realizes the challenge with Hayden, the current points leader on the front row with him: "Of course the important thing is tomorrow and with Hayden on the front row with us it looks like it will be a great battle for the victory. There are a lot of other riders with good pace too but for now I'm really happy with the pole position," he reflected. "My first two qualifying laps were quite good but the last one was unbelievable - it is so much fun to ride the M1 when it's working so well like this. Hopefully the weather will stay like this tomorrow and we can have a good show for everybody."

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Carlos Checa , Garry McCoy , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Shinya Nakano , John Hopkins , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa