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MotoGP washout leaves Rossi on pole

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  • Valentino Rossi benefits from qualifying washout at MotoGP in Japan
  • World champion will start from pole ahead of arch-rival Casey Stoner
  • Rossi critical of decision to have second round of championship at Motegi
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(CNN) -- Defending world champion Valentino Rossi will start on pole for Sunday's MotoGP in Japan after Saturday's qualifying session was called off due to torrential rain.

Rossi shelters under an umbrella as he signs autographs at a wet Motegi circuit.

Rossi shelters under an umbrella as he signs autographs at a wet Motegi circuit.

Rossi had been fastest in Friday's free practice on the Motegi circuit and will start on the front row with championship leader and arch-rival Casey Stoner and Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain.

The Italian superstar was critical of the decision to bring the second round of this year's title race to Japan.

"It is not a great idea to come to Motegi in April because the weather is always quite bad," he told the official MotoGP Web site www.motogp.com.

"We are lucky because we had a good session in the dry yesterday and so we are on pole, which is important for the race but it is still impossible to be at 100% after such a short time and with so little data."

Ducati's Stoner, who won the season-opener in Qatar, took a relaxed view of the situation.

"We've been running reasonably competitive in both wet and dry," said the Australian.

"We could have done with a little bit more time; we weren't going for the quickest lap time on Friday, more just preparing for the race. We're on the front row, so it's all good."

Australia's Chris Vermeulen, Colin Edwards of the United States and Italy's Loris Capirossi make up the second row.

Italy's Marco Simoncelli will occupy pole position in the 250cc event with compatriot Andrea Iannone claiming the honors in the 125cc category.

Track officials made desperate attempts to get the 4.8 km circuit fit for racing on Saturday, but the rain continued to hammer down in the afternoon.

The forecast is for improved conditions on Sunday but light showers are still set to come in.

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