Alex de Angelis took 125cc provisional pole at Rio today, the San Marinese defending his position against some surprise contenders as the eight-litre field took on the bumpy Brazilian circuit.

Stefano Perugini led the early running in the half-hour session, improving his lap time slightly with each circulation - but with the half way point approaching the Italian was only 0.037secs ahead of Steve Jenkner, with world champion Arnaud Vincent also in fighting form a mere two tenths further back on his second event with the Sterilgarda Aprilia outfit.

However, it would be championship leader Dani Pedrosa who soon rose to the fore - snatching a considerable 0.5secs lead on his fifth lap of the Nelson Piquet circuit. That advantage would increase in subsequent laps and by the midway point the Spaniard was the only man to have broken into the 1min 58s.

Telefonica backed Pedrosa would continue to reign right until the final five minutes when Italian youngster Andrea Dovizioso put his Tea, Scot Honda onto provisional pole by just 0.02secs. Meanwhile, Vincent was also continuing to make progress, sitting in a close third.

The closing stages saw perennial runner-up de Angelis mount a stiff challenge, seizing pole - then extending his margin - in successive laps. With the flag falling, the expected challenge from Pedrosa never returned and instead it was the likes of Gabor Talmacsi, Jorge Lorenzo and Gino Borsoi who would complete the provisional front row.

Pedrosa would find himself a provisional sixth, behind Dovizioso, while Estoril winner Pablo Nieto was left ninth, just ahead of early session pace setter Perugini. Vincent would slip to eleventh.

Full times to follow...

1. de Angelis
2. Talmacsi
3. Lorenzo
4. Borsoi
5. Dovizioso
6. Pedrosa
7. Barbera
8. Giansanti



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