Championship points leader, Sete Gibernau, placed his RC211V on provisional pole for Sunday's Italian GP at Mugello. Gibernau broke Valentino Rossi's lap record by 1.7 seconds with a time of 1:49.553. But perhaps the bigger shock was his distance between himself and the rest of the field. The usual suspects of the Italian GP are the Italians of course, and Gibernau's closest Italian challenger was almost half a second adrift.
As many had expected, Rossi appeared to struggle in the uber-fast Tuscan track, the fastest in the calendar. Rossi's best effort only got him to within half a second of Gibernau with a time of 1:49.961. It is worth noting that only Gibernau and Rossi managed to dip into the 1:49 times.
Last place on the provisional front row went to fellow Italian, Max Biaggi. Although in the front row, his performance was disappointing as Biaggi was a full 1.2 seconds behind Gibernau, a lifetime in motorcycle racing.
Leading the second row is Marco Melandri, also Italian. Next to him sits Spaniard Carlos Checa on the third Yamaha of the championship. Rounding up the second row is Brazilian Alex Barros on the HRC-works Honda.
Third row went to Barros's teammate Nicky Hayden. Next to Hayden is Makoto Tamada and American Kenny Roberts on a Suzuki.
According to weather forecasts, showers are expected tomorrow, with a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday. Check back tomorrow for a full report on final qualifying.