Reigning MotoGP World Champion and current series leader, Valentino Rossi, will start tomorrow's Pacific GP from third place after losing out to Max Biaggi and Makoto Tamada in today' final qualifying session.

Rossi started the session second fastest from yesterday's session, in which he complained of braking difficulties on his five-cylinder Honda. Overnight adjustments seemed to have been in the right direction as the Honda ace posted the fastest time in the hour long morning free practice session.

In this afternoon's critical second qualifying session it was a battle of the Honda RCV's. MotoGP rookie Nicky Hayden was the first to dislodge the overnight pole sitter Sete Gibernau, with 12 minutes of the session remaining. Makoto Tamada then toppled the American to be relegated himself by Rossi - who then fell victim to Tamada again.

However, Rossi was never to retaliate and instead Biaggi, in the dying minutes, posted the eventual pole time, some 1.356 seconds inside the late Daijiro Kato's best from 2002.

"Things are coming better especially with the setting on the bike," said Vale. "We work a lot for the race set-up and we manage to get a good high rhythm. There are still small things to fix but we have an opportunity in the warm up tomorrow.

"At the end of the session we tried for the best lap time with the qualification tyre. Normally we are always in delay and run out of time. Today we had a little bit too much time and in the last five minutes I had used all the tyres!" he explained. "Anyway - third position and on the front row is not too bad. We wait for tomorrow!"

Rossi, who leads the championship from fellow Honda RC211V riding Gibernau by some 51 points, has a mathematical chance of clinching his fifth world title if he wins the 24-lap race tomorrow and title contender Gibernau finished in 15th place or worse.

 

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