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Rossi wins pole for home GP
The top of Rossi's helmet made us laugh

Valentino Rossi brought out the best for his home fans once again in Mugello this afternoon, taking a stunning pole position to ensure he will start tomorrow's quest for a ninth Mugello victory in the best possible way. The Italian's 50th career pole has been a long time in coming, his last one having been at Catalunya last season, almost one year ago. It is also his first for Bridgestone and Yamaha's fifth from six races this season.

Rossi greeted his fans in slightly unusual fashion today as he unveiled his traditional one-off Mugello helmet, which this year carries a picture of his face on top of it. Joking aside however this morning's practice was another disjointed session with the track drying throughout after yet another rain shower and Rossi finishing sixth. After his crew made some slight, but important modifications to his M1 over lunch it was a different story this afternoon, as Rossi dominated a hot and sunny qualifying session. He was consistently fast on race tires and then improved with the first three of his four Bridgestone qualifying tires, bettering the existing pole position lap by more than 0.8 seconds with the third.

For the rider who has seemingly done everything in the premier class, pole position signified a new milestone for the Fiat Yamaha rider. His first of the season and first with Bridgestone tires, Rossi’s most recent top spot is also his fiftieth in the World Championship and keeps alive Yamaha´s dominant pole record thus far in 2008.

Rossi recorded his fastest lap with time to spare in the dry afternoon qualifying session, with no rider able to hang with the Italian favorite. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa came closest to dethroning the `King of Mugello´ with his final attempt, but fell just short with a time less than two-tenths of a second down on that of the current series leader.

Loris Capirossi completes the front row for the Sunday showdown, his first time on the frontline since joining Rizla Suzuki. Capirossi is the only rider on the grid besides Rossi to have won at Mugello, and will be gunning for his countryman when the lights go out.

2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner made it four different factories in the top four, heading the second row for home team Ducati Marlboro and lining up alongside Shanghai poleman Colin Edwards. Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden completes the second line of attack.

The leader of the BMW M Award for combined qualifying results, Jorge Lorenzo nonetheless starts from his lowest grid position since moving up to MotoGP. In seventh place at the top of row three, the Spaniard will have to storm through the field to try and catch Fiat Yamaha teammate Rossi. Heading into the first corner, he may also bash fairings with Tech 3 Yamaha´s James Toseland and San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Shinya Nakano, who join him in the eighth and ninth grid placings, respectively.


Valentino Rossi 1st 1'48.130;
"This is a great, great qualifying because it's been a long wait to be on pole position again, almost one year exactly! Now for sure we will try to win tomorrow. To be honest I was quite worried after practice this morning because we had a few problems with the set-up and I couldn't find my rhythm, but I want to say thank you to all my team because they made a great job during lunch, we did some important modifications and then this afternoon I had the feeling and the speed that I wanted. We're now fast on race tires but we still need to make our final decision about which tire to use and we will do this when we see the conditions tomorrow. It's great to make my first pole with Bridgestone and I think 48.1 is a very fast time and it shows how good their qualifying tires are now.

It's good as well to have two Italians on the front row and now I hope we have a lot of people here tomorrow and that we can make a big party once again! I have to be honest about my helmet, it was Aldo Drudi's idea this time but I think it's one of the best ever! It's not a drawing, it's a real picture of my face at the braking at the end of the straight here and I think it's very funny!"



Rider Nation Team Lap time
1 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 1'48.130
2 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team + 0.167
3 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 0.183
4 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team + 0.245
5 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha + 0.253
6 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team + 0.536
7 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.775
8 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha + 0.895
9 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini + 0.965
10 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.015
11 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.090
12 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.116
13 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 1.435
14 J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.471
15 T. OKADA JPN Repsol Honda Team + 1.699
16 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team + 1.721
17 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team + 2.145
18 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team + 2.335
19 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team + 2.759

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