Vermeulen takes "wet" pole in Istanbul

Under wet conditions at the Istanbul Park Circuit in Turkey, rookie rider Chris Vermeulen claimed his first ever pole position for the third round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). The Australian rider set 2m04s617...

Under wet conditions at the Istanbul Park Circuit in Turkey, rookie rider Chris Vermeulen claimed his first ever pole position for the third round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP).

The Australian rider set 2m04s617 to lead tomorrow the front row with the Rizla Suzuki bike in the Turkish Grand Prix. Vermeulen took advantage of the right moment on the track to take the best laptime of the qualifying session in front of a respectable audience in the grandstand.

"From the start of the qualifying session the bike was working really well and it was comfortable to ride, even when the conditions got pretty bad and grip was hard to find", Vermeulen commented.

"I tried to go out in the better conditions and it turned out that it was best at the end. I just stayed out and tried to be as fast as I could and in the end I was faster than everybody!", he said.

Vermeulen had to fight with yesterday's fastest rider in dry conditions, Nicky Hayden, who was able to put his Repsol Honda in second place, just 0s206 off the pole.

On his final lap of the session, Hayden was 0s2 up on the split times and looked to be heading for his first pole of the season, but a small mistake going into the final complex left the Honda men kicking himself, yet still pleased with the speed of his RC211V on Michelin wet tyres.

"My goal for the session was to be on the front row but I'm not happy with myself for making that mistake in the last split - it was a club-racing move. I knew I had a good lap going and I went through the fast 5th gear corner quicker than I had before in the wet, and then I tried to brake a little deeper into the next corner but it was never going to work!", explained the American rider.

Hayden proved to be fast in the Istanbul Otodrom no matter the weather conditions, which gives him the title of main candidate for tomorrow's competition.

Spaniard Sete Gibernau beat his teammate and standings leader, Loris Capirossi, in the battle of Ducati boys taking third place leaving the Italian in fourth.

"We're happy. I've not ridden the bike so much in the wet, so for now we're doing better than we thought we would in these conditions. Ducati and Bridgestone are doing an outstanding job and I'm very happy with that", Gibernau stated.

Fifth spot belong to the other Rizla Suzuki bike with John Hopkins, followed by two rookies, Randy de Puniet and Casey Stoner. Top ten places were completed by Shinya Nakano, Colin Edwards and Kenny Roberts Jr.

The Bridgestone wet weather tyres worked extremely well in today's atrocious conditions, a fact that was emphasised by all six of the Bridgestone shod bikes qualifying in the top eight positions.

Seven times World Champion and winner of the past round in Qatar, Valentino Rossi, appeared in eleventh position with the Yamaha M1. The Italian, who continues without any pole position in the 2006 season, ended-up almost three seconds from Vermeulen.

"We're having a lot of difficulty, not just at this track but during this period. Unfortunately the problem with the bike came late in the pre-season and we have not had time yet to fully understand it. It means we are off the pace here in the wet and the dry, but we don't completely understand why", Rossi tried to explained about the problems the bike is suffering.

"I'm surprised, because last year our bike was really good in the wet and after the new bike worked so well at Catalunya during the rainy pre-season tests I was confident it would be good today as well, but it has been the opposite. If it's dry tomorrow then we have some things to try in the morning, but if the conditions are the same as today then it's going to be very hard for us", added a not so happy Valentino in Istanbul.

With the weather as a question mark for Sunday`s race, MotoGP expects to have a thrilling battle for the victory right from the green lights.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , Kenny Roberts , John Hopkins , Randy de Puniet , Chris Vermeulen , Casey Stoner