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Kenny Roberts Smokes ‘Em in Qualifying for Australian 500 GP; McWilliams on Pole for 250 GP; Gobert Surprisingly Quick

American Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) dominated Phillip Island qualifying for Sunday’s 500 GP race. Roberts broke the track record and, more important for Sunday, was more than 7/10 of a second faster than Tetsuya Harada (Aprilia) who qualified second.

The front row of the grid was filled out by Regis Laconi (Yamaha) and Alex Barros (Honda), who were third and fourth fastest, respectively.

Points leader Alex Criville (Honda) struggled to twelfth fastest in qualifying, and will start from the outside of the third row. Criville injured his left wrist in a crash on Friday, and will ride in considerable pain. Roberts could take another big bite out of Criville’s points lead with a victory tomorrow.

The motorcycling world was waiting anxiously to see what type of performance the new kid on the block, Anthony Gobert (MuZ), would put in. He fared surprisingly well in qualifying, coming in 13th with a lap time of 1’33.911 (just .154 behind Honda’s Alex Criville and one place ahead of John Kocinski (Honda)). He also qualified five places ahead of MuZ’ rider Jurgen vd Goorbergh, a man who has captured pole twice this year already.

In 250’s, Jeremy McWilliams captured his first pole ever at Philip Island over Oliver Jacque (Yamaha) who was second fastest. Loris Capirossi (Honda) and Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) filled out the third and fourth positions on the front row.

500 GP Qualifying Results (Top 10)

1. Kenny Roberts; 1’32.319 (Suzuki)
2. Tetsuya Harada; 1’33.080 (Aprilia)
3. Regis Laconi; 1’33.177 (Yamaha)
4. Alex Barros; 1’33.229 (Honda)
5. Max Biaggi; 1’33.274 (Yamaha)
6. Sete Gibernau; 1’33.333 (Honda)
7. Tadayuki Okada; 1’33.417 (Honda)
8. Norick Abe; 1’33.452 (Yamaha)
9. Juan Borja; 1’33.498 (Honda)
10. Carlos Checa; 1’33.511 (Yamaha)

250 GP Qualifying Results (Top 10)

1. Jeremy McWilliams; 1’33.919 (Aprilia)
2. Olivier Jacque; 1’34.081 (Yamaha)
3. Loris Capirossi; 1’34.160 (Honda)
4. Shinya Nakano; 1’34.236 (Yamaha)
5. Tohru Ukawa; 1’34.482 (Honda)
6. Jason Vincent; 1’34.527 (Honda)
7. Valentino Rossi; 1’34.541 (Aprilia)
8. Ralf Waldmann; 1’34.629 (Aprilia)
9. Sebastian Porto; 1’34.693 (Yamaha)
10. Stefano Perugini; 1’34.738 (Honda)