Rossi and Edwards claim Yamaha pole one-two

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Fiat Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards abruptly halted Ducati’s domination at the Istanbul Park by claiming the top two positions on the grid for tomorrow’s Turkish GP.

Current world championship leader Rossi claimed pole position for the 22-lap clash with a brilliant lap of 1.52.795 with four minutes of the hour-long session remaining.
That had fired him a massive 0.810s clear of the field and in a dramatic finale his time was good enough to hold onto pole despite late attacks from Edwards and Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.

Rossi, who leads the series by nine-points after a win in Jerez and second place in Qatar last month, dominated the session.

He went to the top of the timesheets after just 12 minutes with a lap of 1.54.487 and was only deposed when Randy de Puniet became the first rider to run a soft qualifying tyre after 30 minutes.

With 12 minutes left on the clock, Rossi used the first of his two Michelin qualifying tyres and logged a 1.53.092 to jump 0.614s clear of the field.

He was 0.3s faster on his second qualifier and he said: “I have never won at this track and in the past I have had a lot of problems in this track. Last year the bike was a nightmare to ride and I had a very bad moment, but now its like the track has changes and my M1 is a lot better and competitive and funny to ride. It’s great for me and for the team to be first and second.

I grew up in every practice, worked very well on the bike and the tyres. I have a found a very good front for the race but we still have to decide the rear. But with the Michelin qualifying tyre the bike flies. Tomorrow will be a hard race because Colin and Dani (Pedrosa) were very fast today.”

American Edwards recovered from the front-end problems that left him languishing down in 15th yesterday afternoon to register his second front row start of the season.

The Texan logged a best of 1.52.944 to finish just 0.149s and he is confident of adding to his Spanish GP podium. “We came out with a bang yesterday and then had some problems but we worked some magic. The bike is working really good.
“We put a qualifier on and it stuck like glue.

"My best lap was pretty mistake free though I came up on some traffic. I went through the fast right-hander with my eyes shut and we ended up coming out of the other side.”

Dani Pedrosa saved Honda blushes when he took third place on what has been a nightmare weekend for most of the RC212V riders.

It might have been a second successive pole position for the Spaniard had he not encountered John Hopkins’ Rizla Suzuki on his last flying lap. The 20-year-old though was content with third having qualified on the back row in 2006.

The triple world champion said: “I think I could have been a little bit faster but I could not get past Hopkins. I am still very happy to be on the front row. I just need to get a good start now because the first corner is always difficult.”

Aussie Casey Stoner had to settle for fourth on the grid though he is sure to figure prominently in the race after his impressive displays in the three free practice sessions.

He was fastest yesterday afternoon and this morning but is confident he can challenge for a second successive podium in Istanbul to keep himself firmly in the early title hunt.

Nicky Hayden salvaged some pride to claim sixth of the grid – his best qualifying result of a nightmare campaign. Alarmingly though for the American is he is way off the pace on race tyres and has spent the majority of the weekend languishing towards the bottom of the timesheets on race rubber.

Marco Melandri’s hopes of maintaining his 100 per cent winning record in Turkey seem remote. With his confidence battered by two crashes yesterday, the former world 250 champion will start down in 14th place, with four of the six Hondas failing to qualify inside the top 10.

 

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt