Valentino Rossi ended free practice before this afternoon's all important final qualifying session at Phillip Island just 0.112secs clear of home hero Troy Bayliss.

Rossi lapped 0.5secs slower than his provisional pole time as the field continued with race set-up, with the top two in a class of their own - some 0.5secs clear of Bayliss' Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi.

But unfortunately for the pair, and the rest of the MotoGP field, the fine weather is expected to break tomorrow with a wet race likely - throwing all their set-up efforts out of the window.

Nevertheless, there's not much they can do about that and the plan for today remains unchanged: Rossi will be looking to defend his first ever Phillip Island pole, while Bayliss is looking to claim his first pole full stop, after just fifteen MotoGP appearances.

Behind the top three, Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden and fellow Honda rider Max Biaggi were just a fraction slower - with Kawasaki's Garry McCoy continuing his fine weekend (after a disastrous season) as he put his ZX-RR sixth, and within a second of the #46. McCoy's unlikely to mind a wet race tomorrow.

And nor is Jeremy McWilliams, who maintained his top ten form on the Proton KR V5, while fellow Bridgestone runner Makoto Tamada made a huge leap up to eleventh after struggling yesterday on his Pramac Honda.

McWilliams' team-mate Nobu Aoki, absent yesterday after needing a neck x-ray, was back on his bike today and set the 21st fastest time.

Final free practice:
1. Rossi
2. Bayliss
3. Capirossi
4. Hayden
5. Biaggi
6. McCoy
7. Nakano
8. Gibernau
9. Ukawa
10. McWilliams
11. Tamada
12. Melandri
13. Roberts
14. Barros
15. Hopkins
16. Checa
17. Jacque
18. Edwards
19. Pitt
20. Haga
21. Aoki
22. Kiyonari
23. de Gea
24. Burns

 

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