After a two-year drought, Spaniard Carlos Checa took pole position from provisional pole-sitter, Ruben Xaus. Checa's pole position lap was the only lap in the 58 second range, quite an achievement on such a dirty and slippery track. Another...
After a two-year drought, Spaniard Carlos Checa took pole position from provisional pole-sitter, Ruben Xaus. Checa's pole position lap was the only lap in the 58 second range, quite an achievement on such a dirty and slippery track. Another surprise came in the form of Alex Barros. The Brazilian qualified second and only a tenth behind the Catalan. In third, starting from the outside of the first row will be championship contender, Sete Gibernau. Gibernau's pace was not much slower than the HRC factory rider, just seven thousandths behind.
Xaus may have set provisional pole on Friday, and though he improved on his provisional pole time, it was only enough for seventh place. Current world champion and championship leader, Valentino Rossi, will start from the eighth position of the grid. The Italian ran off the track no less than twice during Friday's qualifying session, and at least once in today's practice and final qualifying sessions. Rossi complained of the track being dirty and a lack of front-end grip. Surprisingly, his time of 1:59.494 came on race tires, as he chose to focus on race setup instead of a flying lap. With the track being so dirty and the racing-line being only about a meter and a half wide, passing will be very difficult. We'll find out tomorrow whether or not his decision was the correct decision. Qualifying ninth was Troy Bayliss. The Australian qualified just five hundredths behind Rossi.
Tomorrow's race will start at 3:00pm local time, an hour later than the qualifying sessions. The temperature of the track should be cooler, which will add yet another variable to an already unpredictable race.