Toni Elias ruled the first qualifying session for Saturday's 250cc Rio GP today at the Nelson Piquet circuit, the Spaniard responding to the best efforts of his rivals to take a 0.36secs overnight advantage.

Elias began will by leading the early stages of the 45-minutes test until - after 15minutes - the Spaniard found himself briefly in the shade of fellow Aprilia rider Manuel Poggiali, the MS liveried star snatching a slim 0.123secs lead over Elias with his sixth circulation of the session.

But it wasn't to last as Elias was soon back on top - demolishing Poggiali's best by 0.77secs - while team-mate Fonsi Nieto finally looked back on pace as he, and then Honda riders Sebastian Porto and Roberto Rolfo, also moved ahead of the former 125cc world champion.

2002 event winner Porto, riding in the nearest thing to an Argentine GP, was soon on the move, overcoming Nieto and closing to within 0.1secs of the once comfortable Elias with 15mins to go.

However, the response would come soon after when Toni again grabbed a huge handful of time over the competition and multi 2003 race winner would be 0.414secs clear of nearest rival Randy de Puniet as the final overnight pole attack began.

Nieto would then make it a Telefonica Aprilia one-two by demoting de Puniet out of second - briefly - before the ever determined Rolfo stole the position from him. But Elias was still 0.36secs clear thanks to his earlier effort and he would never be troubled for overnight pole despite his rivals' best efforts.

Poggiali, who must be eager for a return to his early season winning ways, heads the provisional second row, from Porto, and Campetella team-mates Battaini and Guintoli.

Full times to follow...

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



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