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Rossi qualifies on pole after Motegi washout

MOTOGP world champion Valentino Rossi will start from pole in today's Japanese Grand Prix after qualifying was washed out by torrential rain yesterday.

With the weather deteriorating and surface water making it too dangerous for the riders, grid positions were determined by combined free practice times.

Yamaha's Rossi, 30, edged out Australian rival Casey Stoner on the time sheets at Motegi's Twin Ring circuit, where the Italian won last year to clinch his sixth premier-class world title.

Ducati's Stoner, the 2007 world champion, won the season opener in Qatar earlier this month when rain in the desert forced the night race to be run on the Monday.

A frustrated Rossi called for the Japan race to be switched to a different date as rain wreaked havoc again after the 24-hour delay in Qatar.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "Last year almost every grand prix had some rain but this year is even worse. We had problems in Qatar and here it's a disaster."

Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo completed the front row, the fastest times all having been clocked in dry conditions during Friday's practice.

American Colin Edwards, who splashed to the quickest time in a wet morning session yesterday before the rain turned nasty, will start from fifth on the grid on his Yamaha.

In the 250cc category, Italy's Marco Simoncelli will have pole position and will be joined on the front row by Japan's Hiroshi Aoyama and Spain's Alvaro Bautista.

Italy's Andrea Iannone will lead a 1-2-3 starting row for Aprilia in the 125cc race, followed by Spain's Julian Simon and Germany's Stefan Bradl.


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