Rossi on pole for South African GP

Five-time world champion Valentino Rossi did it again. Rossi improved his time from yesterday by more than half a second and broke the Welkom lap record in the process. "The Doctor" lapped the circuit with a fastest time of 1:32.647. Just like ...

Five-time world champion Valentino Rossi did it again. Rossi improved his time from yesterday by more than half a second and broke the Welkom lap record in the process. "The Doctor" lapped the circuit with a fastest time of 1:32.647. Just like Friday, Spaniard, Sete Gibernau shadowed Rossi and qualified second on the grid, only four hundredths of a second behind (1:32.682). Third place was Max Biaggi riding the Camel RC211V. Biaggi was the only other rider to dip into the 1:32s with a time of 1:32.919.

Americans, Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards, led the American charge and qualified on the second row. Green rider, Shinya Nakano, impressed everyone by placing the ZX-RR in the second row.

Just like Rossi said on Friday's post qualifying interview, this year the top ten riders will be within a second; and they were. Marco Melandri, Rossi's compatriot, was the second fastest Yamaha rider with a time of 1:33.296. Alex Barros, Rossi's replacement at HRC, qualified 8th with a time of 1:33.359.

The day's surprises were just beginning, while Rossi took pole and Shinya Nakano qualified in the second row, the Bologna boys were struggling. Loris Capirossi was the quickest Ducati qualifier and only managed to put it in the third row. His teammate, Troy Bayliss, qualified 21st. Neil Hodgson, 2003 WSBK Champion, qualified 15th, followed by his teammate, Ruben Xaus who crashed during qualifying with only 15 minutes to go.

Suzuki boys, Kenny Roberts Jr. and John Hopkins, both finished on the fourth row with Kenny managing to edge out his teammate by only five hundredths of a second.

Tomorrow we will find out if Yamaha's bet on Rossi was worth the reported $10m. Whether or not it pays off, you can rest assured that it will be fun finding out.

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:32.647
2. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1:32.682
3. Max Biaggi (Honda) 1:32.919
4. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:33.098
5. Colin Edwards (Honda) 1:33.111
6. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) 1:33.276
7. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1:33.296
8. Alex Barros (Honda) 1:33.359
9. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1:33.522
10. Kenny Roberts Jr. (Suzuki) 1:33.543
11. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:33.598
12. Makoto Tamada (Honda) 1:33.679
13. Alex Hoffman (Kawasaki) 1:33.815
14. Carlos Checa (Yamaha) 1:33.884
15. Neil Hodgson (Ducati) 1:33.977
16. Ruben Xaus (Ducati) 1:34.103
17. Jeremy McWilliams (Aprilia) 1:34.404
18. Norick Abe (Yamaha) 1:34.484
19. Shane Byrne (Aprilia) 1:34.703
20. Nobu Aoki (Proton) 1:354.845
21. Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1:35.804
22. Marco Fabrizio (WCM) 1:36.982

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Norifumi Abe , Jeremy McWilliams , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Alex Barros , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , Kenny Roberts Jr. , John Hopkins , Neil Hodgson , Ruben Xaus , Shane Byrne , Makoto Tamada , Marco Melandri
Teams Williams