Rossi wins battle of the minds

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The Independent Online

World champion Valentino Rossi won another round of psychological warfare when he stole pole position for today's Dutch MotoGP with only seconds remaining in the one hour qualifying session yesterday.

Carlos Checa, his Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team-mate, held the top spot with a lap of 1m 59.440s when Rossi went out for his final attempt. Checa's time was then 0.728s faster, but Rossi hacked nearly seven-tenths of a second from that to take pole in 1m 58.758s.

"It was an incredible lap," the 25-year-old Italian said. "At the beginning I wasn't able to go at 100 per cent, but I was able to ride harder the last two sections."

Championship leader Sete Gibernau blamed a faulty clutch on his Honda for ruining his final charge. The 31-year-old Spaniard will start from the front row, but he cannot be happy that his time was more than a second slower than Rossi's.

The best of the British riders was Shane Byrne in 18th place, with Belfast's Jeremy McWilliams in 19th, Neil Hodgson in 20th and Chris Burns in 24th.

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