Wet drama in Assen

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First qualifying: Sete Gibernau has qualified on provisional pole for Saturday's Dutch GP round at Assen, but the real drama unfolded behind him in the cold, windy and wet conditions with Michel Fabrizio on the WCM qualifying in fourth.

Fabrizio stunned onlookers on the WCM, and even managed to follow Valentino Rossi in the closing stages and catch the world champion, posting a faster time in the process. The 18-year-old Spaniard finished behind countryman Ruben Xaus, who also benefitted from the wet weather on his D'Antin Ducati, taking a fine third with a smooth style suited to the conditions.

Tory Bayliss was fifth, Carlos Checa dropped to sixth from his quickest performance in free practice. Rossi finished seventh fastest, Colin Edwards eighth, and Kenny Roberts Jnr put his Suzuki in ninth. Max Biaggi finished the top ten. Hodgson was 12th, Byrne 13th, Burns 18th and McWilliams 19th.

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Thursday free practice:

Carlos Checa has gone fastest in a wet free practice for the 2004 Dutch TT at Assen on Saturday, June 26.

The Spanish Yamaha rider posted his fastest time on the penultimate of 19 completed laps, finishing over a second quicker than fellow Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. Checa finished with a best time of 2:14.799, which is 14 seconds down on the fastest ever lap at the track. Rossi meanwhile was second quickest with 2:16.193, with Troy Bayliss third quickest on the Ducati.

Britian's Shane Byrne finished fourth quickest on the Aprilia, in front of Alex Barros, Rueben Xaus and Micehl Fabrizio. Neil Hodgson was ninth quickest and Jeremy McWilliams rounds out the top ten.

Sete Gibernau is down in 23rd place.

1) Checa 2:14.799. 2) Rossi 2:16.193. 3) Bayliss 2:16.736. 4) Byrne 2:16.742. 5) Barros 2:17.509. 6) Biaggi 2:18.342. 7) Xaus 2:18.438. 8) Fabirizio 2:18.592. 9) Hodgson 2:18.823. 10) McWilliams 2:19.582. 11) Roberts Jnr 2:19.711. 12) Hopkins 2:20.240. 13) Hofmann 2:20.340. 14) Aoki 2:20.969. 15) Edwards 2:21.612. 16) Capirossi 2:22.410. 17) Tamada 2:23.628. 18) Nakano 2:25.037. 19) Burns 2:25.492. 20) Hayden 2:25.871. 21) Abe 2:27.484. 22) Roberts 2:27.756. 23) Gibernau 2:29.246. 24) Melandri 2:45.103.

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MCN Staff

By MCN Staff