Ironically, it took a visit to the desert for Yamaha's Carlos Checa to break his two-year pole position drought.

For this afternoon at Losail, the Spaniard grabbed his first pole since Portugal 2002 in an energy-sapping final one hour qualifying session, in which he fought off the considerable challenge of Alex Barros and Sete Gibernau.

"I've waited a long time and so I'm going to enjoy it," said Checa. "I'm confident of a good result especially as we've worked very hard on tyre selection.

"The important thing tomorrow will be to get a good start and that is why this pole is so important," he added. "A good line has developed on the track now, but off that line it is very slippery and it will be hard to overtake. We'll see what happens, but I am confident I can have a good race tomorrow. At least we know it's not going to rain!"

"Congratulations to Carlos and his crew who have done a great job," praised team director Davide Brivio. "He used his tyres very well today. His race pace is pretty good too so I am expecting a good race from him. It's important that he gets away well."

Repsol Honda rider Barros pulled a fast time out of the bag on his last lap to gatecrash the front row in second place, relegating Telefonica Honda run Gibernau to third after his own late pole attack faltered in the final corner.

Meanwhile, Checa's team-mate - world champion and championship leader Valentino Rossi - struggled on the slippery surface. The 25 year-old finally qualified eighth fastest and will start from the third row of the grid.

 

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