Loris Capirossi took Ducati's first ever MotoGP
victory today in a nail biting Catalan Grand Prix, which came to life when the tyres of then leaders Rossi, Capirossi, Biaggi and Gibernau began to slide in the scorching heat.
The action then turned frantic when Rossi missed his braking point twice, allowing Loris through and leaving the Repsol rider to make a tyre-smoking comeback from sixth...
Final qualifying had seen sizzling temperatures prevent many riders from improving on their provisional qualifying times and meant that Valentino Rossi's pole remained untouched.
The Italian could not beat his own previous best of 1min 43.927secs, but neither could any of the other riders, with only Olivier Jacque improving out of the top four.
Jacque qualified third to seal his second front row start in the MotoGP
class - his first since setting pole position at the Sachsenring last year. Pole setter Rossi and second placed Loris Capirossi
survived the 'Jacque attack', but home favourite Sete Gibernau
was pushed to the outside of the front row, while the Frenchman's former team-mate Shinya Nakano
was dropped to the second row.
Nakano was eventually edged further back by Jacque's current team-mate Alex Barros, who rose three places from his provisional position to seal fifth. Colin Edwards
was in impressive form throughout the day, having set the fifth quickest time this morning, and he continued his progression on the Aprilia to move up to the second row in the afternoon. His final qualifying position of seventh is his highest so far in the MotoGP
Carlos Checa makes up the second row riding the Yamaha, after edging out his former team-mate Max Biaggi for eighth.
There were slight changes further down the grid, with Jeremy McWilliams
– due to make his 150yth GP start today - improving two places to seventeenth on the Proton V5. The bike only made its race debut last weekend at Mugello, but McWilliams would start today's race ahead of two Honda RCVs and two Kawasakis.
When the red lights went out on today's grid, it was Capirossi who once again took the holeshot, leading Rossi, Gibernau, Jacque, Biaggi, Nakano, Barros, Checa, Melandri, Ukawa, Hayden, Edwards and Bayliss around the first chicane.
Eliminated soon after were McWilliams, Pitt and Yanagawa – last placed Pitt missing his braking point by miles into a tight right-hander and (despite hanging his inside leg off the footpeg to try and turn tighter) impact with the field in front was inevitable.
The #88 slammed into the Proton V5 of McWilliams, then the pair of them took out Pitt's Kawasaki team-mate Akira Yanagawa.