Alex de Angelis kept his hopes of finally taking his first ever 125cc GP victory well and truly alive by taking his fourth pole position of the 2003 season, in a frantic final qualifying session for Sunday's Valencia Grand Prix.

Yesterday, Marco Simoncelli staked his claim as the next Italian prodigy to emerge in the eight-litre class after an entertaining jostle for top positions between an unusual collection of riders.

The 16-year-old dominated the time sheets for much of the session but set his fastest lap at the very end, just in time to hold off an attack from Gabor Talmacsi. The Hungarian's effort was enough to dislodge Casey Stoner from second spot, relegating the Australian to third ahead of Steve Jenkner, who joined his team-mate Talmacsi on the provisional front row.

Off the track, former 125cc World Champion Emilio Alzamora announced that this will be his final Grand Prix appearance before he retires at the end of the season.

The Spaniard, who won the title in 1999 riding a Honda, revealed that he had struggled to maintain his motivation during a disappointing season on the Derbi and said he will announce his plans for future projects in the near future.

Into today's final qualifying session and the times were soon sent tumbling on a much gripper circuit, with local hero Hector Barbera quickly turning his weekend around by claiming the top spot at the halfway mark, leading Simoncelli by 0.3secs.

Pablo Nieto soon made it a Spanish - and Aspar Aprilia - one-two by closing to within 0.15sec of Barbera as the final ten minutes approached, and the pair would hold firm until Dovizioso returned from the pits to put his Honda ahead... only for the on-form Simoncelli to fight back with five minutes to go.

Simoncelli's return to the top lasted just a minute before de Angelis displaced him, only for Nieto, Barbera and Simoncelli (first, second and third respectively) to put the San Marinese down to fourth as the frantic last lap began.

But treble 2003 pole sitter de Angelis would deliver on his last circulation, despite numerous riders throwing themselves into the gravel all around him, and the Globet Aprilia star nipped 0.111secs under Nieto's mark to claim the final pole position of 2003.

Simoncelli couldn't defend his provisional pole, but took a worthy third ahead of Barbera, while Dovizioso, Perugini, Bautista and Stoner complete the front two rows.

Full times to follow...

1. de Angelis
2. Nieto
3. Simoncelli
4. Barbera
5. Dovizioso
6. Perugini
7. Bautista
8. Stoner



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