Thpain, Final Qualifying Results:

John P Burns
by John P Burns


Camel Pramac Pons riders Max Biaggi and Tohru Ukawa kickedoff the first European Grand Prix of the season by placingtheir machines on the front row of the grid for tomorrow'sSpanish Grand Prix at Jerez. Biaggi will start from thirdand Ukawa from fourth. Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss(both Ducati) start from pole and second respectively.

The session began with ambient and track temperatures evenhigher than yesterday, air at 28 degrees and track at 41degrees, and the only rider in the top ten not to improve onhis time from yesterday was provisional pole-man SeteGibernau (Honda). Tohru Ukawa crashed twenty minutes intothe session but didn1t let it affect his concentrationsteadily making inroads on the top places as the sessionprogressed.

Max Biaggi climbed to third spot with ten minutes to go.Despite the best efforts of his rivals, including currentWorld Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda), he would not bemoved from a position he gained after putting in hard workwith his engineers to improve the performance of his RC211Vfrom yesterday where he was down in 12th place.

Rossi heads the second row and lining up alongside him willbe local hope Sete Gibernau (Honda) who despite toppingyesterday1s timesheet could not find any more speed today.John Hopkins (Suzuki) gave his team a much needed boost witha seventh on the grid.

Nobuatsu Aoki (Proton) proved there is still life in thelast of the two-stroke machines by fighting his way toeighth place ahead of all the Yamaha four-stroke mountedriders who are clearly struggling to find the key to a quicklap of the 4.423km track.

Olivier Jacque qualified as first Yamaha on the third row ofthe grid in ninth spot. Despite a fall in the last minute ofthe hectic session the Frenchman had done enough to squeezeinto the top ten. Local hero Carlos Checa will form up onthe grid alongside him on a Yamaha in tenth.

The Camel Pramac Pons Team performance is a clear signalthat the strong rider pairing and the team1s expertise willput them strongly in contention for a big result intomorrow1s race. A race that promises to be as gruelling asit will be exciting in punishing conditions.

Final Qualifying:1. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1m 41.983s2. Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1m 41.9933. Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons) 1m 42.124s4. Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons) 1m 42.258s5. Valentino Rossi (Honda) 1m 42.2766. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1m 42.3227. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1m 42.5798. Nobuatsu Aoki (Proton) 1m 42.609s9. Olivier Jacque (Yamaha) 1m 42.64310. Carlos Checa (Yamaha) 1m 42.711

Max Biaggi (third): "Yes, I have to be much happier now thatwe have fixed the front end from yesterday. I was losingtime in the fast turns on the bumpy bits of the track. We1vemade a big jump and I should be able to repeat the lap timesin the race. There are always things to fix on a bike tomake improvements but we are strong here now and we need tobe because the race will be very hard."

Tohru Ukawa (fourth): "I1m happy to be on the front row hereand I1m also pleased with the lap times that got me there.The race is going to be very tough tomorrow and to get agood start and get away will make things a bit easier. Butthis is my first front row of the year and I will try mybest to take advantage of that."

This service is provided by Camel, title partner of theCamel Pramac Pons team.

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