Rossi topples Gibernau in final seconds. World Champion rides fastest-ever Brno lap to lead super-close front row. Michelin riders dominate in red-hot conditions, filling top nine grid positions. Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team...
Rossi topples Gibernau in final seconds. World Champion rides fastest-ever Brno lap to lead super-close front row. Michelin riders dominate in red-hot conditions, filling top nine grid positions.
Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) roared to pole position at Brno this afternoon, jumping from seventh place to first on his last-but-one lap to topple title-rival Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) from pole. The session was a real thriller, with Gibernau and Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) cutting some super-fast laps in the final stages despite track temperature soaring to 45 degrees. Biaggi ended up third with Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) fourth. Just 0.147 seconds covered the fastest four riders, making this the second-closest MotoGP front row (just 0.094 covered the front row at June's Italian GP). Michelin riders dominated once again, filling the top nine positions on the grid.
"That was a great session for us -- incredibly fast," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "When everyone came here to test last month only Biaggi did a 1m 58, now we've got four riders at that pace. But there's stillwork to do on tyre choice -- it was wet yesterday morning and cool yesterday afternoon, so we've only had one session in the heat, and the weather forecast says it will be cooler tomorrow, so our guys will only make their final choice after morning warm-up."
Rossi needed pole here to boost his confidence after a lean few races -- he hasn't won a GP since Mugello in early June and he hasn't started a race from pole since Catalunya in mid-June. The Italian hero left things to the last moment -- withone minute to go he was still seventh but his penultimate lap was the fastest ever at Brno, putting him 0.130 seconds ahead of Gibernau who was also on fine form. "We worked very hard for pole today, it's very important for the championship," said Rossi, whose fastest lap was almost a second inside the 2002 Brno pole time. "My best lap was unbelievably quick, so we're in good shape, though we've yet to make a final decision on which Michelin rear I'll use for the race."
Gibernau, winner of two of the last three races, went fastest with 12 minutes to go, displacing Friday pace-setter Biaggi, then improved his time once again with two minutes remaining, but it wasn't quite enough to keep Rossi at bay. "I'm veryhappy because we're running a really good pace," said the Spaniard. "And once again I'd like to thank my team and Michelin for their hard work."
Provisional pole-sitter Biaggi bounced back from an early session spill to come within 0.009 seconds of Gibernau's quickest lap. The Roman, who started last year's Czech GP from pole and has only been beaten twice here in his last nine visits, didhis best lap on his number-two bike: "I don't know why I crashed on my second lap, but I thought I saw smoke or spray coming from the bike in front of me, so maybe that was the cause," said Biaggi who has new performance parts from HRC here. "My second bike isn't my favourite but we still did good times with it." Capirossi is also feeling confident after making good progress with a new chassis which features optimised stiffness for faster direction changes. "We've got the new chassis working very well," he said.
Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) was in the running for a front-row start until Rossi's last-gasp attack demoted him to fifth to lead row two. The Spaniard ended the day a fraction ahead of Brno first-timers Troy Bayliss (DucatiMarlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), the American MotoGP rookie scoring his first-ever second-row start. Row two was completed by Tohru Ukawa (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin).