Ukawa stuns by claiming pole for final 500GP

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Tohru Ukawa pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the GP season on Friday when he claimed pole position for the Brazilian 500 GP, ending Italian domination of qualifying this season

The Japanese works Honda rider celebrated his career-first 500 pole at the Nelson Piquet circuit to become the first non-Italian rider of the campaign to top the final leaderboard.

He knocked a massive 2.5s off his best time from yesterday’s session to end up with a best of 1.51.43. That denied Italian’s a clean sweep of pole positions this year as he knocked Loris Capirossi off top spot with just 15 seconds showing on the clock when he crossed the line.

Capirossi was only three hundreths of a second behind Ukawa and crucially for him second place in the championship now looks a real possibility. He trails Max Biaggi by just four-points going into tomorrow’s last round and the Marlboro rider ended up 10th fastest.

In a frantic session though only 0.8s split the top 13 riders.

Kenny Roberts was third quickest for a rare front row start for the American, while Shinya Nakano completes the front row.

World champion Valentino Rossi was, for once, not top dog. He ended up fifth.

British teenager Leon Haslam qualified 18th, while Noriyuki Haga looks set to miss the historic race as he sat out today’s final session with a bad tooth absess.

The race marks the final all-500 two-stroke clash with new 990cc prototype machines allowed on the grid in 2002.

Fancy a flutter? See the links to to name the first six for Saturday’s GP

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff