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Rossi races to MotoGP pole despite Brno fall

  • Story Highlights
  • Valentino Rossi takes pole position for Sunday's Czech Republic GP in Brno
  • World MotoGP champion overcame a fall late in qualifying to set circuit record
  • The Italian was 0.05 seconds ahead of Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo
  • Spaniard is 25 points behind in second place in the overall standings
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(CNN) -- World MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi overcame a fall late in qualifying to take pole position for Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno.

Valentino Rossi is seeking to extend his championship lead over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

Valentino Rossi is seeking to extend his championship lead over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

The Italian will head the grid for the fifth time in 11 races this season as he edged out Yamaha teammate and closest title rival Jorge Lorenzo in Saturday's session.

Rossi, who leads the Spaniard by 25 points in the overall standings, clocked a circuit-record time one minute 56.145 seconds on the 21st of his 23 laps after a fierce battle between the two.

He is expected to be fit for Sunday's race despite suffering a minor finger injury when he went down in the closing minutes, sliding along the track after his bike flipped.

"Pole position is great, but the most important thing is that I'm okay after the crash. I have a bit of pain in my right thumb but that's all, so I think I've been quite lucky," Rossi told the MotoGP offical Web site.

"I'll get it checked out later but I don't think it's anything bad. This weekend only one of the front tires is working well for us, which means we only have four for the weekend, so we're putting quite a lot of stress on just a few tires.

"I arrived to brake very deep and just lost the front, it was unlucky. Anyway, we did a great job in the session and being on pole again is important. We have a good race pace and I think it's possible to be competitive tomorrow."

Lorenzo, who set the fastest pace in Friday's practice session, was 0.05 seconds adrift with compatriot Dani Pedrosa third on his Repsol Honda 0.383s behind Rossi.

Toni Elias, who will not be retained by San Carlo Honda Gresini for next season, was fourth ahead of American former world champion Colin Edwards and young Italian Andrea Dovizioso.

Elias and Alex de Angelis will be replaced by Marco Simoncelli and his fellow Italian Marco Melandri, who returns to the team he raced for from 2005-07.

The 27-year-old Melandri was runner-up in the world championship in 2005 but was less successful last year with Ducati and has done well with limited resources at Hayate this season.

Rounding out the top-10 on Saturday were De Angelis, Ducati's former world champion Nicky Hayden of the U.S., Italian Loris Capirossi on a Suzuki and Finland's Mika Kallio -- despite a crash in his stint as a temporary stand-in rider for Ducati.

Kallio is replacing 2007 world champion Casey Stoner for three races due to the Australian's ongoing health problems.

All About Valentino RossiJorge LorenzoDani PedrosaCasey StonerMotorcycle RacingMotorsports

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