Tamada steals pole from Rossi at Portugal

Makoto Tamada rode an amazing lap to steal pole position from Valentino Rossi for Sunday's Portuguese GP at Estoril. Tamada's pole position lap was the first-ever lap in the 37 second range. Tamada's lap of 1:37.933 was almost half a second faster...

Makoto Tamada rode an amazing lap to steal pole position from Valentino Rossi for Sunday's Portuguese GP at Estoril. Tamada's pole position lap was the first-ever lap in the 37 second range. Tamada's lap of 1:37.933 was almost half a second faster than the previous lap record held by Loris Capirossi of 1:38.412.

With pole stolen, Rossi was left to take second place on the grid. While Rossi was not able to improve on his Friday time, it was still good enough to leave him safely in second place. The same applied to championship contender, Sete Gibernau. The Spaniard was also not able to improve on his Friday time, but like Rossi, his Friday time was good enough to leave him in third place.

Leading the second row will be Max Biaggi. The Italian shaved off half a second from his Friday time; enough to grid himself in fourth place with a time of 1:38.069. Next to Biaggi will be Alex Barros. The Brazilian, like Rossi and Gibernau, was not able to find additional speed today. This relegated him from third on Friday, to fifth today. Rounding up the second row is American John Hopkins. Hopkins found half a second between yesterday and today, lapping the Estoril circuit with a time of 1:38.323.

Third row will be led by Marco Melandri. Melandri improved his time by four tenths, but it was still only good enough for seventh place. In eighth place will be Colin Edwards. Edwards gained three tenths, but was still displaced one spot from Friday. On the outside of the third row will be Kenny Roberts Jr., who improved from 1:39.078 on Friday to 1:38.740 today.

Weather will be key on Sunday. Today's morning practice was held in the wet; Barros led Rossi, followed by Gibernau. Sunday's weather is forecasted to be similar, so the ability for riders to adjust to weather changes will separate the boys from the men.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Alex Barros , Sete Gibernau , Kenny Roberts , John Hopkins , Makoto Tamada , Marco Melandri