16-year-old Jorge Lorenzo took his first ever pole position today at Sepang, the Derbi rider more than holding his own against countryman - and world championship leader - Dani Pedrosa, in today's 125cc final qualifying session.

Yesterday, Pedrosa made a firm declaration of his intent to lift the 2003 title with a provisional pole position lap of 2mins 14.991secs, which held off a surprise challenge from veteran pair Mirko Giansanti and Masao Azuma, who were in resurgent mood after both enduring indifferent seasons.

Pedrosa needs to score eleven more points than Stefano Perugini to win the title, and yesterday the Italian could only qualify fifteenth fastest. Andrea Dovizioso completed the provisional front row after a typically hectic finale which saw eight riders pushing for pole position on the last two laps.

Dovizioso's effort was one of many to fail in the final section of the circuit which is made up by two crucially long straights, but it was enough to knock Steve Jenkner back to the second row in fifth, just ahead of Mika Kallio, Arnaud Vincent and Jorge Lorenzo.

Into today, and Pedrosa would push pole a further two tenths away from the opposition in the opening half of the 30 minutes, but even that wasn't enough to stop a rejuvenated Jenkner snatching the position, by 0.198secs, as the final ten minutes began.

Next to shine was Casey Stoner, the Australian teenager producing a remarkable recovery after his fall yesterday to take pole, by a whisker, with six minutes still to go - while Giansanti and Azuma were still to improve.

Pedrosa would wait until the final three minutes before launching his own attack, the Spaniard's Honda twitching as he forced the power down early on his way to the top spot, albeit by less than a tenth... and that wasn't enough to stop Rio winner Lorenzo jumping ahead of the Telefonica rider on his penultimate lap.

The last lap was surprisingly quiet, with Pedrosa settling for a front row, but one man breaking the mould was young Finn Mika Kallio, the KTM rider charging hard to take an excellent third with the chequered flag waving.

Stoner hung on for a front row start on a day when his team-mate/owner Cecchinello was just 22nd. Jenkner was unable to repeat his early pace when it mattered and slipped to the second row.

Full results to follow...

1. Lorenzo
2. Pedrosa
3. Kallio
4. Stoner
5. Jenkner
6. Luthi
7. Nieto
8. Dovizioso



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