Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow's GP from third on the grid, behind Loris Capirossi and Max Biaggi, after a small mistake at the climax of the session left him on the wrong tyres.

Rossi started the second qualifying session holding provisional pole to Yamaha mounted Olivier Jacque with Biaggi and Tohru Ukawa third and fourth fastest respectively.

In the crucial second qualifying session the order remained constant at the sharp end until the last 10 minutes when the serious battle began. With six minutes to go Biaggi deposed Rossi from the top of the pile, only to be toppled minutes later by Loris Capirossi securing his third pole of the season.

Rossi eventually responded with a time of 1min 38.744secs, on his last lap, to secure his 10th front row start from 11 GP's.

"We did make a little mistake at the end," confessed the Italian superstar. "When I go past five minute from the end I read T3. I should have stopped and come in for a softer tyre but we didn't have enough time. It was not possible to go faster on the tyre I had.

"No big problem. First row and third position. I'm very happy with the work of my team. We make good work with the settings," he added. "Yesterday we had some problems - especially with the rhythm. Today it's coming better. Tomorrow we hope for more dry weather and a little less wind."

Rossi, who leads the championship from Sete Gibernau by some 34 points, will be keen to repeat the success of his last two visits to the Portuguese circuit where he has won on both occasions. In 2001 on the Honda NSR500 and last year aboard the 990cc RC211V.

 

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