Final qualifying for the Rio Grand Prix saw joint world championship leader, and Friday pole sitter, Sete Gibernau unable to improve - and fall victim to Suzuki's Kenny Roberts, plus fellow Honda riders Max Biaggi and Nicky Hayden.

"The rear can really spin-up at the start and you have to be careful, but I'm happy with the second fastest time," said Biaggi, who finished the hour just 0.154secs from Roberts' Suzuki . "Our qualifying tyres are really fantastic and you can open the throttle so much earlier than usual.

"We're also strong in race trim and I'm so happy for my team because they just never give up," added the Camel Honda rider. "I was disappointed with provisional seventh yesterday and today we worked hard and solved the problems."

Hayden made his move with 10 minutes of the session remaining and powered his RC211V to second. But there was more to come from the rest of the field and the young American needed another storming lap to secure his third front row start of the season.

"I'm happy to be on the front row," said Hayden. "I've had a few front rows this season that didn't amount to much in the races, but I'm hoping to make this one count. Hopefully the inside of the track won't be too dirty.

"On the last lap of qualifying I was really just holding on and I didn't expect it to be a front row time. We've still got some front-end problems to sort out if we're to have a real chance tomorrow."

By contrast, Gibernau was the only rider - with the exception of last-placed qualifier David de Gea (WCM) - who failed to better his time from yesterday, but his Friday time was only two tenths of a second away from the pole time, and he's in confident mood.

"The work we did on set-up was good," he said. "I lost the chance to do a final quick lap but the race tyre we have is good. I'm not worried about the second row start because I'm on the left side of the track where it's clean. If I had to choose between a pole and a good race set-up - I'd choose race set-up."

 

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