Laconi takes theearly advantage

The Frenchman Regis Laconi, who rode to his first career 500cc victory in the Valencia Grand Prix last year, was quickest in provisional qualifying yesterday for this year's edition.

The Frenchman Regis Laconi, who rode to his first career 500cc victory in the Valencia Grand Prix last year, was quickest in provisional qualifying yesterday for this year's edition.

Riding on the Ricardo Tormo circuit, Laconi clocked 1min 35.682se, just .003sec ahead of the American rider Kenny Roberts, who recorded 1:35.685. Roberts, who rides a Suzuki, leads the world standings with 194 points.

The Brazilian Alex Barros was third in 1:35.824, but the world champion, Alex Criville of Spain, finished in 10th in 1:36.546 after he fell in the last few minutes of qualifying.

With four races to go Roberts leads the standings by 46 points from Italian Valentino Rossi, who finished down in ninth.

Japan's Shinya Nakano led the 250cc class with a time of 1:37.263, with Olivier Jacque of France, who won the Portuguese GP two weeks ago, coming in second with 1:37.524, followed closely by Italians Branco Battiani in 1:37.552 and Marco Melandri, 1:37.718. Jacque heads the 250cc championship standings with 221 points, a comfortable 27-point lead over Nakano.

In the 125cc championship, Japan's Youichi Ui topped the charts by clocking 1:41.055. The poles for tomorrow's race will be decided in today's final qualifying sessions.

VALENCIA GRAND PRIX Leading first practice times: 500cc: 1 R Laconi (Fr) Yamaha 1min 35.682sec; 2 K Roberts (US) Suzuki 1:35.685; 3 A Barros (Br) Honda 1:35.824; 4 L Capirossi (It) Honda 1:35.860; 5 M Biaggi (It) Yamaha 1:36.075; 6 N Aoki (Japan) Suzuki 1:36.323; 7 G McCoy (Aus) Yamaha 1:36.362; 8 N Abe (Japan) Yamaha 1:36.391; 9 V Rossi (It) Honda 1:36.436; 10 A Criville (Sp) Honda 1:36.546. 250cc: 1 S Nakano (Japan) Yamaha 1:37.263; 2 O Jacque (Fr) Yamaha 1:37.524; 3 F Battaini (It) Aprilia 1:37.552; 4 M Melandri (It) Aprilia 1:37.718; 5 T Ukawa (Japan) Honda 1:37.857; 6 R Waldmann (Ger) Aprilia 1:37.966; 7 D Checa (Sp) Honda 1:37.986; 8 A Debon (Sp) Aprilia 1:38.152; 9 D Kato (Japan) Honda 1:38.415; 10 F G Nieto (Sp) Yamaha 1:38.487. 125cc: 1 Y Ui (Japan) Derbi 1:41.055; 2 R Locatelli (It) Aprilia 1:41.571; 3 A de Angelis (S Marino) Honda 1:41.695; 4 N Ueda (Japan) Honda 1:41.946; 5 A Vincent (Fr) Airtel Aprilia 1:41.957; 6 L Cecchinello (It) Honda 1:42.068; 7 P Nieto (Sp) Derbi 1:42.123; 8 G Borsoi (It) Aprilia 1:42.303; 9 A Nieto (Sp) Honda 1:42.357; 10 M Azuma (Japan) Honda 1:42.372.

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