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MotoGPApril 6, 2003
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 1
Japan GP, Suzuka

Rossi Earns Pole At Opening Round

World Champion Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) had his excellent form in FridayÕs timed practice to thank for winning the battle of the stopwatches in qualifying, taking pole position after wet and cold track conditions prevented virtually the entire field from setting faster times than those of the opening day. Thus RossiÕs 2:06.838 lap remained static and untouchable --- even by the world champion himself --- by the end of the second day.

The generally poor and constantly altering track conditions prevented any of the top riders setting a high number of laps on day two, drawing proceedings to a close in a somewhat subdued fashion.

Three Hondas filled the top three positions, with Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Honda Pons) closest to his great rival Rossi, and BiaggiÕs own teammate Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Honda Pons) slotting into third position. Carlos Checa (Yamaha) secured the last place on the final front row ranking, again thanks to his Friday time.

New MotoGP full-time competitor Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) scored fifth best time on his 2003 debut, and Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda) made it five RC211Vs in the top six places.

The slick track surface on Sunday was good news for the local wild cards in the 250cc class, with Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Harc-Pro Honda) and Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) securing the two top spots on the time sheets. Alex Debon (BQR Honda) eased into third, with Roberto RolfoÕs Fortuna Honda taking him to fourth place, albeit two seconds down on AoyamaÕs time. Sebastian PortoÕs Telefonica Movistar Jnr Honda was swift enough to put him inside the top five, after a tricky session for all the riders.

Dani Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jnr Honda RS125) was second quickest after day one and because of the uncooperative Saturday weather Dani could not displace Aprilia rider Alex de Angelis from the top of the time sheets.

Andrea Dovizioso took his Team Scot Honda to eighth, the only Honda second row starter, although there was a strong smattering of RS125R riders throughout the field. Top wild card was Shuhei Aoyama (Team Harc-pro) in 12th.

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 1
Japan GP, Suzuka

1 Valentino Rossi(Repsol Honda Team)
2 Max Biaggi(Camel Pramac Pons)
3 Loris Capirossi(Ducati Marlboro Team)
4 Sete Gibernau(Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
5 Troy Bayliss(Ducati Marlboro Team)
6 Colin Edwards(Alice Aprilia Racing)
7 Nicky Hayden(Repsol Honda Team)
8 Alex Barros(Gauloises Yamaha Team)
9 Shinya Nakano(d'Antin Yamaha Team)
10 Carlos Checa(Fortuna Yamaha Team)
20 Tohru Ukawa(Camel Pramac Pons)
DNF Makoto Tamada(Pramac Honda Team)
DNF Daijiro Kato(Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
1 Manuel Poggiali(MS Aprilia Team)
2 Hiroshi Aoyama(Team Harc-Pro)
3 Yuki Takahashi(Dy Do Miu Racing Team)
4 Sebastian Porto(Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
5 Franco Battaini(Campetella Racing)
6 Fonsi Nieto(Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
7 Roberto Rolfo(Fortuna Honda)
8 Naoki Matsudo(Yamaha Kurz)
9 Tekkyu Kayoh(Hitman RC Koshien Yamaha)
10 Sylvain Guintoli(Campetella Racing)
1 Stefano Perugini(Abruzzo Racing Team)
2 Mirko Giansanti(Matteoni Racing)
3 Steve Jenkner(Exalt Cycle Red Devil)
4 Lucio Cecchinello(Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
5 Andrea Dovizioso(Team Scot)
6 Youichi Ui(Sterilgarda Racing)
7 Pablo Nieto(Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
8 Daniel Pedrosa(Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
9 Thomas Luthi(Elit Grand Prix)
10 Gino Borsoi(Racing World)
17 Masao Azuma(Ajo Motorsports)

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