Gibernau claims pole position at Le Mans

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> MotoGP leader Sete Gibernau has taken pole position for Sunday's French Grand Prix after clocking a record time on the Bugatti circuit.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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After a first day dominated by American riders Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden at Le Mans, Sete Gibernau and Carlos Checa secured Spanish superiority at the front of MotoGP grid for Sunday's Grand Prix Polini de France. Whilst neither Edwards nor Hayden managed to improve their times in hot and sticky conditions at the Bugatti circuit, Gibernau shook off the effects of a fever to storm to a new pole record of 1'33.425. Yamaha rider Checa clinched second place to join his compatriot on the front row, the first time that two Spaniards have qualified in the top two positions for a premier-class Grand Prix. Gibernau has two previous pole positions to his name - both at the Welkom circuit in South Africa. Max Biaggi qualified third fastest on the Honda to clinch the final front row position, with Valentino Rossi struggling to fourth place and lining up on the second row of the grid for the first time since the third round of last season at Jerez. Edwards' provisional pole time was enough for a second row start alongside Rossi in fifth place, whilst Honda colleague Nicky Hayden was relegated to the third row in seventh by Marco Melandri, the third Yamaha rider to qualify in the top six. Honda bikes dominated the qualifying as Daniel Pedrosa of Spain claimed his very first pole in the 250cc class, and 125cc leader Andrea Dovizioso of Italy clocked the quickest lap in his category. The 250cc session proved the most exciting as Aprilia riders Randy De Puniet of France and Sebastian Porto of Argentina swapped the top two spots several times. But Pedrosa bounced back and raced ahead of De Puniet, while Porto crashed in the final minutes of the session. He was not hurt and is to start the race from third place. Aprilia rider Manuel Poggiali completes the front row in fourth. In the 125 class, championship leader Dovizioso, Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Hector Barbera, and Roberto Locatelli of Italy will make up the front row. As usual there were a number of spectacular spills during qualifying but, thankfully, no reports of any serious injuries although some riders will bound to have a few bruises and gravel rash when they line up on Sunday. (AP)