Sport in Brief: Rossi leaves his best until last to take pole

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The Independent Online

Valentino Rossi produced a stunning lap in the closing moments of qualifying to claim pole position for today's FIM MotoGP World Championship round at Donington Park.

Reigning champion and series leader Rossi was lingering in fifth position until the last three minutes when he put his Fiat Yamaha in first with a lap of 1min 28.116sec.

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa was second fastest with an effort of 1:28.211, with Rossi's team-mate and nearest title challenger Jorge Lorenzo third. Marlboro Ducati rider Casey Stoner – who has won the last two races at Donington – was fourth with Britain's James Toseland ninth on his Tech 3 Yamaha.

Pedrosa had topped the timesheets all weekend but had no answer to Rossi's late pace as the Italian surged to the 56th pole of his illustrious career. Rossi said: "The pole position was a surprise because we were struggling for grip on the harder tyre but after a few modifications we were very fast on the softer tyre at the end." British rider Bradley Smith will start the FIM 125cc World Championship race in front of his home crowd from pole position after he clocked the fastest time during qualifying.

Spies finds there is no threat from rivals

Ben Spies claimed his ninth pole position of the season after qualifying quickest for the FIM Superbike World Championship at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic. The American, who lies second in the overall standings behind Japan's Nori Haga, clocked 1min 58.868sec to edge out Michel Fabrizio. The Italian Ducati Xerox rider also dipped under one minute 59 seconds but could not eclipse the Yamaha WSB of Spies, who dominated all three sessions. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing), fastest in the opening qualifying session, will start from third place on the grid with British duo Jonathan Rea (Ten Kate Honda) and Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati) fourth and fifth. Haga will start from 14th place after being eliminated in Q2.

Radford given out in Middlesex re-think

Middlesex yesterday announced they had parted company with first-team coach Toby Radford after a major restructuring of the cricket department. Radford said: "I asked to leave because this season's role has been very different from what it was last year. I very much enjoyed my five years' coaching at the club."

Kiwi efforts bear fruit in Sardinia

The Kiwis were the dominant force as Emirates Team New Zealand swept to victory in the Sardinia Trophy, a part of the Audi MedCup series, off Sardinia, writes Stuart Alexander. With Marseille also conquered, that makes it two in a row. Their nearest rival, the Argentinian yacht Matador, which won the opening event in Alicante, got it all wrong. She was the only one of the other nine which could have denied the Kiwis but she wrapped herself around the top turning mark in the final race of the 11.

The challenge from the Swedish entry Artemis fell apart in the final four races, including disqualification from the 10th, and defending champion Terry Hutchinson in Quantum also struggled.

Crates calls is a day after London meet

Former Paralympic champion Danny Crates came third in the 800m at the London Grand Prix in his final race before retiring from the sport.

Crates, who won T46 800m gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, finished behind winner Abraham Tarbei of Kenya and Poland's Marcin Awizen. "I wouldn't have thought of any other way to finish than in front of a great crowd at Crystal Palace," said the 36-year old.