Jeremy McWilliams, who last year claimed pole at Phillip Island on a two-stroke, is in a provisional ninth place on the Proton V5 for this Sunday’s MotoGP at the Australian circuit.
Valentino Rossi set a new qualifying record to head the two factory Ducatis of Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss. Rossi, the 2003 champion, set a time of 1:30.631 on his final lap to claim the top spot by one tenth of a second.
Max Biaggi was next on the Camel Honda, followed by Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden. Carlos Checa is seventh, with a good qualifying result for Aussie Garry McCoy at his home GP in eighth. His Kawasaki team-mate and fellow countryman Andrew Pitt finished the session in twelfth.
The session had to be red-flagged for around ten minutes due to a fall by Italian Yamaha rider Marco Melandri, who was unhurt and returned to claim 14th on the grid. Britain’s Chris Burns is currently 23rd on the WCM, behind Ryuichi Kiyonari and WCM team-mate David De Gea.
Daniel Pedrosa, the newly-crowned 2003 125cc champion, has finished his season early after breaking both of his ankles during the free practice session on Friday morning. The 18-year-old fell at the Lukey Heights section, sliding into the tyre wall feet first.
Pedrosa was airlifted to hospital in Melbourne, as his left ankle was badly twisted and required urgent surgery. Doctors have confirmed the Spaniard will miss the next round at Valencia in two weeks.
In the 125cc qualifying session it was Jorge Lorenzo who put his Derbi on pole, with a front row containing Hector Barbera, Marco Simoncelli and Casey Stoner. Meanwhile Mika Kallio has put the KTM machine in eighth, fresh from his second place at the previous round in Malaysia.
Telefonica Movistar rider Sebastien Porto dedicated his provisional pole to injured 125 team-mate Pedrosa after topping the timesheets with two quick laps at the end of the session.
Franco Battaini, who had led for most of the session, was relegated to second, with Toni Elias third after he left the track trying to improve his position. Fonsi Nieto completes the front row.
Britain’s Chaz Davies qualified in 19th position on the Aprilia Germany bike. Meanwhile six riders are currently outside the 107 per cent qualifying time, with five Australian wildcards joined by German Honda rider Katja Poensgen.
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