Argentinean Sebastian Porto made a much needed return to the top of 250cc qualifying today at Phillip Island, taking provisional pole from semi-privateer Franco Battaini.

Frenchman Randy de Puniet was first to come out fighting this afternoon, setting the early session pace then building on it by enough to remain on top right through until the last 12 minutes when fellow Aprilia rider Toni Elias snatched pole by 0.138secs, then lost it within a lap to Battaini - to the tune of 0.531secs.

The Campetella Racing rider's pace would see him remain in charge (from Elias, de Puniet and Porto) heading into the final two minutes, when Honda mounted Porto stole provisional pole from him by just 0.074secs.

The last lap would see Elias have a lucky escape when he ran wide, forcing the Spaniard to pull his bike up and go straight after making contact with the grass. He managed to stop with centimetres to spare before hitting a firm looking tyre wall.

That escape aside, the final circulation would pass largely without incident, although Elias' team-mate Fonsi Nieto would grab a provisional front row start in fourth, while Porto was left to take a much needed overnight pole largely unchallenged.

Point's leader Manual Poggiali claimed sixth as he edges ever nearer to his second world title.

Full times to follow...

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



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