Battaini surprise fastest in 250s
ITALIAN Franco Battaini was the surprise provisional pole qualifier in the opening 250 qualifying session of 2002 at the Suzuka circuit in Japan today.
He pipped fellow works Aprilia rider Fonsi Nieto to top spot by just 0.1s as none of the real title contenders made any impression at the front.
Championship favourite Marco Melandri did actually finish third fastest but he was well clear of fourth placed Alex Debon, who was a further 0.6s back.
Other leading riders like Toni Elias, Roberto Rolfo, Emilio Alzamora and Roberto Locatelli were only eight, ninth, tenth and eleventh respectively.
British duo Jay Vincent and Leon Haslam ended up the session in 18th and 19th fastest positions.
Just 0.2s split the team-mates but they were both over 3.5s adrift of Battaini’s pace-setting best of 2.08.62.