Valentino Rossi became the first rider since the advent of the one-tire rule to dip under an existing pole position record in the Czech Republic today, taking his third consecutive pole position despite sliding off into the gravel trap with just a few minutes remaining. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo qualified second, continuing his 100% front-row qualifying record for the season.
Lorenzo had ruled the standings in both previous sessions and it looked like being the same story again this afternoon, as the Mallorcan went straight to the top and then continued to improve his time around the undulating Brno circuit. Sitting just four thousandths of a second off Rossi's 2006 pole position record, Lorenzo looked likely to be the one to smash it but it was the World Champion who did so with a brilliant lap with eight minutes left on the clock, shaving 0.046 seconds off the time he set on the way to second place three years ago, back in the days of 990ccc engines.
The drama wasn't over however as Rossi, pushing hard with two minutes remaining, lost the front in the second sector and slid into the gravel, luckily emerging unscathed. Lorenzo made a last minute assault on the Italian's time but was caught in traffic and the 22-year-old had to be content with second position. The pair are joined on the front row by Dani Pedrosa, with Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards putting in another strong performance to qualify in sixth.
In the absence of Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa could be the biggest threat to Rossi and Lorenzo, with the talented Repsol Honda rider having qualified in third place, just under four tenths down on Rossi. zzzz
Toni Elías, meanwhile, reacted well to the news that he will not be riding for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team next year, placing himself at the front of the second row on his RC212V.
With Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) qualifying in fifth to seventh respectively the top seven was dominated by Yamaha and Honda.
De Angelis will be joined on the third row by Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, who survived a scary moment to qualify ninth. There was a crash for temporary factory Ducati stand-in Mika Kallio who placed tenth, whilst Randy de Puniet ran off track at one stage and qualified 13th.
||Alex De Angelis
||Randy De Puniet