x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Rossi takes pole at Czech MotoGP

World champion Valentino Rossi edges out his Spanish teammate Jorge Lorenzo to take pole position in the Czech MotoGP.

Valentino Rossi will lead from the front at Brno.
Valentino Rossi will lead from the front at Brno.

Championship leader Valentino Rossi claimed pole position for today's Czech Republic Grand Prix, but spoiled his day by crashing in the final moments of yesterday's qualifying session. The world champion, who is looking for a seventh title, put himself in a perfect position to extend his 25-point lead over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo as he took the top spot with a lap record time of 1min 56.145secs. But as the Italian aimed to lower his time even further in the final seconds he lost control of the front end of his bike and crashed heavily. Rossi said he would be fit to race though. "I have some pain in the right toe, maybe something more, but for sure tomorrow it will not be a big problem. The first important thing is that I'm fit." He added of his chances of a fifth win of the season: "We have the pole position, we worked well on the setting this afternoon so it's possible to be competitive, and fortunately I'm fit." But Lorenzo, who had been quickest for much of the session, was unable to beat his teammate's time, missing out by 0.050secs as he could only clock 1-56.195. As has been the case for much of the season it was the Yamaha bikes who looked the class of the field, with third-placed Honda rider Dani Pedrosa more than three tenths of a second adrift of the front two despite pushing to the limit on his bike. Toni Elias, who has been dropped by the Gresini team for next season, put in a good display to take fourth ahead of Colin Edwards in fifth on the Yamaha Tech 3 bike. The 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden qualified his Ducati in eighth, while his teammate Mikko Kallio, who is standing in for Casey Stoner, had a tough time as he crashed in the session before eventually finishing 10th fastest - 1.849secs adrift of Rossi's fastest time. gcaygill@thenational.ae