We need a moto gp thread. The 1st moto gp is today in Welkom in SA.
Rossi takes pole at Phakisa
Posted on 17 April 2004 - 18:50
Three times world champion Valentino Rossi threw down the gauntlet to his critics at the South African motorcycle Grand Prix on Saturday and slid his new Yamaha machine into pole position for Sunday's opening race.
The flying Italian set a new record time of 1min 32.647sec at the Phakisa Freeway track in central South Africa in cool but sunny conditions, setting an early tone for this year's 16-race season.
Following closely behind was Spain's Sete Gibernau, last year's winner here and Rossi's arch rival, Italian Max Biaggi in third.
Both Honda riders will push hard to dethrone "The Doctor" around the high altitude 4.242 kilometre (2.636 mile) track on Sunday.
But said Rossi shortly after the qualifier: "I am very, very happy with the pole position.
"I have great confidence in this new adventure, but the race is only tomorrow."
Starting on the second row of the grid will be Americans Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards, both on Hondas which confirm the Japanese manufacturer's dominance of the sport.
The surprise of the day however, was Japanese rider Shinya Nakano on a Kawasaki, who finished in sixth position, the last spot on the second row and who seemed determined to change the team's flagging fortunes in the last few years of racing.
Rossi, who will be keen to silence critics after his controversial move to the Yamaha M1 motorcycle - described as inferior to the last two Hondas that carried him to world championship victories - on Friday said he was surprised by his bike's performance.
Should he win on Sunday, it will be the flamboyant London-based racer's 60th win since he started his Grand Prix career in 1996, racing 125cc machines.
Qualifying was not without other dramas. German Alex Hofmann, on a Kawasaki, took a bad tumble after highsiding his bike before skidding off the track, but rejoined the race after taking his spare from the pits. Similarly, newcomer Ruben Xaus dumped his Ducati on the back of the track, but also rejoined later. None of the two riders were seriously injured.
Frenchman Randy de Puniet, on an Aprilia, outsmarted the pack in the 250cc class to take pole with a time of 1min 35.300sec, followed by Argentina's Sebastian Porto, also on an Aprilia.
In the 125cc class, a close session saw 15 riders finishing within a second from each other, with Andrea Dovizioso of Italy on a Honda in pole, with a time of 1min 40.942sec, followed by Roberto Locatelli, also from Italy on an Aprilia.