World championship leader Valentino Rossi has been dropped to the back of today's Qatar Grand Prix grid for illegal grid cleaning.

While Rossi was not directly involved, some members of his factory Yamaha team were apparently caught preparing his eighth placed grid slot last night by the use of a scooter 'burning out' its tyres.

Any such grid preparation is illegal and, after a protest by rivals teams, Rossi - who holds a 39-point world championship over Sete Gibernau heading into the event - has been given a six-second qualifying time penalty that has dropped him to the back of the 22-rider grid.

With the dusty racetrack extremely slippery off the thin racing line, Rossi - second fastest in the warm-up - now faces a serious test as to how far he can advance up the order this afternoon.

Title rival Gibernau will start today's race third.



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