Lucio Cecchinello won a thrilling 125cc Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez today, holding off Steve Jenkner and Alex de Angelis for two Jerez wins in two years.

Final qualifying had seen Pablo Nieto barely brake a sweat as he stood firm at the top of the time sheets to take his second ever pole position. Several riders were unable to improve on their provisional times as track temperatures soared, leaving Nieto to repeat his pole from last year with his Friday's time.

Fellow Spaniard, and world championship leader, Dani Pedrosa crashed his number one machine with ten minutes remaining and had to settle for fourth on the grid - but will be looking to claim Hondas 150th 125cc win this afternoon.

Meanwhile, last year's winner Lucio Cecchinello was the only man to really threaten Nieto yesterday, moving up to second place but remaining 0.348 seconds adrift. De Angelis maintained his 100% front row record in 2003, with third.

When the red lights went out today it was Dovizioso who grabbed the advantage into turn one, leading Pedrosa, Barbera, de Angelis, pole sitter Nieto, Cecchinello, Giansanti and Stoner.

Pedrosa wasted no time in getting around the Italian, to lead by the end of lap one at his home race, meanwhile the masses of fans had more than one reason to cheer as Nieto carved his way through the field to make it a Spanish one-two, by lap 2.

Soon the top five - Pedrosa, Nieto, Cecchinello, de Angelis and Perugini - were dropping the rest of the pack, with Nieto overtaking the Telefonica rider for the lead on lap 8 of 23.

Nieto continued to comfortably control the race until lap 14, whereupon he swiftly sat up just after turn one as his Aprilia lost power, the thousands of fans sighing collectively as Pablo cruised into retirement.

Cecchinello then inherited the top spot, but young German Steve Jenkner was also impressing and fast catching the bar-banging lead group. This he managed to do on lap 18, and wasted no time in working his way towards the front, while by contrast crowd favourite Pedrosa was embroiled in a sometimes physical fight with Suzuka winner Perugini.

In cutting each other's lines so often, Perugini and Pedrosa allowed the top three to break away and by the last lap were 1secs from the rear wheel of then third placed man Cecchinello and effectively out of contention.

De Angelis led over the line on the penultimate lap, from Jenkner, but the top three were almost inseparable and cunning racer Cecchinello dived inside Jenkner at turn one, then deprived de Angelis at the Sito Pons right hander soon after.

Having promised his girlfriend a birthday victory, Cecchinello knew he plenty to lose and the class veteran threw caution to the wind as he pulled clear of the 'youngsters' behind.

They would close slightly as the LCR Aprilia rider took a defencsive line into the final tight left hander, but neither could stop Cecchinello repeating his 2002 victory and were forced to settle for well deserved podium finishes.

Further back, Pedrosa outbraked Perugini into the last corner for fourth, but was clearly fuming with the Italian for (presumably) holding them both up, and the normally quiet Dani made his feelings felt with wild hand gestures on the slow down lap.

Full results to follow...

1. Cecchinello
2. Jenkner
3. de Angelis
4. Pedrosa
5. Perugini
6. Stoner
7. Barbera
8. Ui

de Angelis defends 250 pole with last lap effort.

Randy de Puniet fought off a strong challenge from championship leader Manuel Poggiali to defend his overnight 250cc pole position in this afternoons second session at Jerez.
Yesterday, De Puniet survived a spectacular last minute high-side to take provisional pole, leading an all-Aprilia front row which also included Franco Battaini, Poggiali and Toni Elias.
The Frenchman rose gingerly to his feet after somersaulting into the gravel at the end of a crash strewn session which could also have finished badly for two of the other main protagonists.
Poggiali somehow recovered from a major rear end slide to wrestle his machine back into a straight line with his legs trailing on the ground, whilst Elias - already nursing an injured hand from a practice crash in South Africa two weeks ago - had the Spanish fans gasping when he disappeared into the gravel trap in the final stages.
Elias' team-mate Fonsi Nieto, who won here last year, could only make the second row in sixth place behind the improving Honda of Roberto Rolfo, whilst Naoki Matsudo on the Yamaha and Honda's Sebastian Porto, who also suffered a spectacular crash, completed the provisional top eight.
Those leading positions held until over half way through today's final qualifier, when Eric Bataille and Naoki Matsudo took seventh and eighth respectively, but the real action came some five minutes later when class rookie Poggiali, unbeaten in 2003, claimed the top spot by just 0.016secs.

However, de Angelis wasn't going to hand the San Marinese pole, and immediately responded with a lap just 0.026secs faster, while non-improvers Battaini and Elias still completed the front row.

But not for long, with 11mins to go, Battaini finally found his form and became the third rider to occupy provisional pole so far, as the Italian guided his Aprilia 0.176secs clear of de Angelis, with Rolfo also on the move - taking fourth from local star Nieto.

Poggiali retook the lead position, by 0.026secs, at the start of his final run - by which time pole looked like being a three way fight between himself, Battaini and de Angelis - with fourth placed Rolfo some 0.6secs behind.

Those times (and positions) held until the very last lap, when de Angelis proved he's fast becoming a force to be reckoned with by regaining his overnight pole, by 0.174secs, from the double 250 GP winner.

Spanish Repsol Aprilia team-mates Nieto and Elias will lead row two tomorrow, despite the latter failing to improve today, while West and Porto complete the top eight.

Full times to follow...

1. de Angelis
2. Poggiali
3. Battaini
4. Rolfo
5. Nieto
6. Elias
7. West
8. Porto


Capirossi claims Ducati's first pole!

The Ducati have taken their first ever MotoGP pole - and a dream one-two on tomorrows' grid - in only their third MotoGP race, after a thrilling second qualifying session at a sun baked Jerez today.

Both Loris Capirossi and team-mate Troy Bayliss had a slow start to the session, but in the final five minute showdown both took turns at the top, before an all or nothing effort from the Italian put him 0.1secs clear of his team-mate and straight into the history books.

Yesterday, Gibernau continued his excellent form by leading a late Honda front row attack to take provisional pole in a session that had been dominated by Valentino Rossi until the final ten minutes.

Ducati duo Bayliss and Capirossi then raised the tempo as they moved into first and second places respectively, but were relegated to fourth and fifth as Honda colleagues Gibernau, Tohru Ukawa and Rossi hit back.

Only a last ditch effort from Capirossi broke the Japanese factory resistance, the Italian moving up to third to edge Rossi out to fourth and knock Bayliss onto the second row. However, the Australian didn't have a chance to use his qualifying tyre and so is expected to be back in contention for a front row start today.

Former World Champion Kenny Roberts showed glimpses of his old self on the Suzuki, maintaining top positions throughout yesterday's session before finally settling for sixth spot. He was joined by his young team-mate John Hopkins, who qualified eighth behind the fastest Yamaha of the day, ridden by Carlos Checa.

Several riders suffered minor crashes yesterday, most notably Max Biaggi, who struggled to twelfth place on the provisional grid after a visit to the gravel trap in free practice, while Alex Barros hit his already injured knee in the same session, and was left one place behind the Italian.

Into the today's all-important second session and it would be Yamaha riders Barros and Checa who immediately improved on their Friday times, the Brazilian most spectacularly as he found almost 1sec in the opening minutes to hold sixth, one place ahead of the Spaniard, as he continued the form shown in morning free practice.

Also on the move was fellow first session under-performer Biaggi, although his advance was less spectacular, as he moved steadily up the order to tenth. Meanwhile, Colin Edwards had put his earlier ignition problems behind him to claim 14th, immediately ahead of Aprilia team-mate Haga, by the close of the first ten minutes.

After that initial flurry, the session settled down and the next change in the top eight came from none other than Marco Melandri! Who claimed a provisional place on the outside of the second row at the half way mark, having found 1.1secs over yesterday on his MotoGP return.

By this point it was starting to look as though Yamaha had taken a major step overnight, having the only riders in the top eight to improve - a theory reinforced when Nakano took sixth - but could they find the 0.7secs still needed to take the first M1 pole of the year?

Meanwhile, Max Biaggi wasn't letting his former employer steal all the attention, as he put his Camel Pramac Pons RCV into seventh (between Barros and Checa) soon after, his Friday engine braking problems seemingly cured.

First of the front row to show some speed was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Valentino Rossi - the Italian superstar had broken the lap record in morning practice, with a time that would have put him on pole by 0.3secs, but with 20mins to go his improvement was only slight, and wasn't enough to push Capirossi out of third.

Into the last ten minutes and the front row was still unchanged (Gibernau, Ukawa, Capirossi and Rossi), but sixth placed Checa was now less than a tenth behind the non-improving Bayliss, with Nakano, Barros, Biaggi and Melandri completing the top ten.

First to shake up this order was the 'Texas Tornado', who continued his fine qualifying performance so far in his debut MotoGP year, by putting the #45 Alice Aprilia eighth. But that soon became ninth when Biaggi nailed a front row start with third on the #3 RCV as he easily became the fastest man of the session so far.

Next to shock was Suzuki mounted John Hopkins, the Hopper had slipped well down the order from yesterday's provisional eighth, but with seven minutes to go he claimed sixth - ahead of one N. Aoki on a KR3 two-stroke - as Bayliss fell from the top two rows.

Rossi's revenge would come a minute later when the #46 slid his RCV just 0.009secs inside Sete's Friday time, but with just 0.2secs covering the top four anything could happen as the remaining riders returned to the track on qualifying tyres.

Bayliss was the first to benefit, rocketing to the top of the times as he sought Ducati's first MotoGP pole, while team-mate Capirossi backed up the Aussie's effort by closing to within 0.131secs of the sister Desmosedici for an all red one-two.

Ducati had been in almost exactly the same situation yesterday, only to be deprived by a late Honda run that shattered their hopes - could the HRC riders repeat that feat today...?

Ukawa was the first to threaten, but could only manage third to put Rossi back to where he began the session - fourth, while with one minute to go Gibernau was yet to improve and had now slipped to fifth.

Then Biaggi stepped up to the mark, and the Roman proved his qualifying quality yet again by splitting the Ducati top two as the session officially ended.

Now on his last lap, Capirossi was clearly determined not to let his team-mate take rob him of a place in history and threw everything he had into his last circulation of the fan packed Jerez circuit. He was almost equal with Bayliss heading into the last part of the lap, but as he cut the timing beam he had found exactly 0.1secs to take a new Jerez pole record, and his place in history, while the Ducati team punched the air in disbelief at their incredible one-two.

Look out Honda; the boys from Bologna have arrived.

Further back, Biaggi will be pleased to have beaten his Honda team-mates, while Ukawa's front row start is a good result for Sito Pons. Rossi will surely be disappointed with fifth, particularly as after his free practice pace, while Gibernau must also understand hwy he was unable to improve despite completing 23 laps.

Other than the Ducatis, ride of the day could arguably be split between Hopkins and Aoki. The former put his Suzuki into seventh, by far its best performance of the year (his team-mate Roberts was just 17th) while the Japanese was just one place behind the #21 on his 'outdated' (?) two-stroke.

After his early promise, Barros slipped to 15th - although he was still just 1secs from pole such was the closeness of the times - while the fellow Yamaha of Melandri was 16th.

Hayden has never really got to grips with the circuit so far and will start 19th, ahead of the three Kawasakis of Pitt, Hoffmann and McCoy respectively.

Full times to follow...

1. Capirossi
2. Bayliss
3. Biaggi
4. Ukawa
5. Rossi
6. Gibernau
7. Hopkins
8. Aoki
9. Jacque
10. Checa
11. Edwards
12. Tamada


Nieto holds home pole.

Spaniard Pablo Nieto held on to his popular home pole at Jerez today in 125cc final qualifying, despite failing to improve on his Friday time.

Yesterday, Nieto gave an early indication of his intentions for his home Grand Prix with an impressive provisional pole, taking a 0.558secs lead over the rest of the field.

Previous record holder Youichi Ui had led the session but was pushed back by a Latin onslaught in the final stages as Alex de Angelis, Dani Pedrosa and Lucio Cecchinello forced their way through to join Nieto on the provisional front row.

Andrea Dovizioso also muscled ahead of Ui to head up the second row in fifth spot, with Stefano Perugini and Casey Stoner completing the top eight. World Champion Arnaud Vincent continued with the rapid development of the KTM, qualifying in eleventh.

Into today's session and the leading positions held until ten minutes into the half hour, when Barbera moved ahead of Stoner for eighth, shortly followed by improvements from Cecchinello trimming half a tenth off the still 0.5secs deficit between himself and third placed Pedrosa.

But Pedrosa soon had problems of his own, being thrown from the seat of his Telefonica liveried machine just after the half way mark when the rear wheel broke free on the exit of a slow right hander.

The teenager almost managed to hang on, but eventually fell to his left and onto the Jerez asphalt. Fortunately, neither rider or machine was damaged and the World Championship leader was able to remount and return to the puts for a 'once over'.

Into the last five minutes and Cecchinello was still the fastest man of the session so far, now having worked his way ahead of non-improvers Pedrosa and de Angelis for second, and just 0.3secs behind home hero Nieto's overnight pole.

But Cecchinello's speed was the exception rather than the rule, with eighth placed Barbera the only other rider to improve in the top two rows.

Ui finally broke the stalemate when he moved into fifth, while fans favourite Pedrosa was back on track, but off the pace by the tune of 1.5secs.

As the session came to a close, Nieto held on to a popular home pole - despite being 0.7secs slower than his Friday pace - while Steve Jenkner put himself fifth. Pedrosa produced a last gasp effort, but was unable to trouble the top three and will start from the outside of the front row.

Fellow top four starter de Angelis was also unable to improve, but still clung to third.

Full times to follow...

1. Cecchinello
2. Jenkner
3. de Angelis
4. Pedrosa
5. Perugini
6. Stoner
7. Barbera
8. Ui