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Scott Dixon beats Will Power to Motegi pole as Dario Franchitti ends up ninth

Scott Dixon, Ganassi, Motegi 2011Scott Dixon denied Will Power pole position for the IndyCar Series' Motegi round, but Power will still start seven places ahead of title rival Dario Franchitti, who could only manage ninth.

The result is only the second time all year that Penske driver Power has been beaten to pole on a road course, with Dixon (Ganassi) having already been the man who ended his pole streak at Lexington last month.

Power hung back early in the Fast Six session, letting his rivals fight for provisional pole. Ganassi's Graham Rahal was fastest initially, with first a 1m38.6055s then a 1m38.5946s.

Dixon beat him with a 1m38.4027s just as Power finally started a quick lap. But the Australian's 1m38.4194s fell short, and he could not improve on his final shot - while Dixon edged further out of reach with a 1m38.3918s to guarantee his pole. Rahal remained third, having been quickest in both group one and the top 12 segment.

All three Penske drivers made it to the final segment. Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves will line up fourth and sixth, sandwiching Newman/Haas' impressive rookie James Hinchcliffe.

Franchitti's ninth place was his worst qualifying result on a road course since Long Beach in April 2010 - although he was little more than a tenth of a second away from the sixth position required to make it into the pole shoot-out. The reigning champion rued a mistake and dirt on the track from an excursion by James Jakes just ahead of him.

The points leader will start behind an all-rookie fourth row, as Charlie Kimball (Ganassi) and Jakes (Dale Coyne) delivered by far the best qualifying performances of their short IndyCar careers so far.

While Jakes made it through, his team-mate Sebastien Bourdais was bumped out of the top 12 cut-off by Marco Andretti after a mistake on his final lap.

Andretti, who would qualify 10th, was the only member of his Andretti Autosport team to make it beyond the group stages, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway and Danica Patrick ending up 17th, 20th and 23rd respectively.

Another surprise from the early rounds was that Newman/Haas' Oriol Servia, who had been second in final practice, was only eighth in group two after flat-spotting his tyres on his best lap. He starts 16th.

Returnee Hideki Mutoh was unable to replicate his promising practice form for AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports so starts 22nd, while Tony Kanaan's off-the-pace weekend continued in the third KV car and he was slowest of all in group one. The brake problems that plagued the Brazilian in practice were resolved, but his set-up was still lacking.

The best of the KV drivers was Takuma Sato, who delivered 11th place for his home fans. He shares row six with a 'local' driver of sorts, as Formula Nippon star Joao Paulo de Oliveira continued to impress on his IndyCar debut for Conquest by making it to the top 12 session.

Pos  Driver                  Team               Time        Gap
 1.  Scott Dixon             Ganassi            1m38.3918s
 2.  Will Power              Penske             1m38.4194s  + 0.0276s
 3.  Graham Rahal            Ganassi            1m38.5946s  + 0.2028s
 4.  Ryan Briscoe            Penske             1m38.7082s  + 0.3164s
 5.  James Hinchcliffe       Newman/Haas        1m38.9226s  + 0.5308s
 6.  Helio Castroneves       Penske             1m38.9743s  + 0.5825s
 7.  Charlie Kimball         Ganassi            1m38.7911s  Part 2
 8.  James Jakes             Dale Coyne         1m38.8198s  Part 2
 9.  Dario Franchitti        Ganassi            1m38.8738s  Part 2
10.  Marco Andretti          Andretti           1m38.9058s  Part 2
11.  Takuma Sato             KV                 1m38.9194s  Part 2
12.  Joao Paulo de Oliveira  Conquest           1m39.0009s  Part 2
13.  EJ Viso                 KV                 1m38.9562s  Group 1
14.  Sebastien Bourdais      Dale Coyne         1m38.7495s  Group 2
15.  Alex Tagliani           Sam Schmidt        1m39.0409s  Group 1
16.  Oriol Servia            Newman/Haas        1m38.7719s  Group 2
17.  Ryan Hunter-Reay        Andretti           1m39.0750s  Group 1
18.  Giorgio Pantano         Dreyer & Reinbold  1m38.8588s  Group 2
19.  JR Hildebrand           Panther            1m39.2650s  Group 1
20.  Mike Conway             Andretti           1m38.9371s  Group 2
21.  Ana Beatriz             Dreyer & Reinbold  1m39.4724s  Group 1
22.  Hideki Mutoh            AFS/Sam Schmidt    1m38.9407s  Group 2
23.  Danica Patrick          Andretti           1m39.4789s  Group 1
24.  Vitor Meira             Foyt               1m39.3269s  Group 2
25.  Tony Kanaan             KV                 1m39.5004s  Group 1
26.  Simona de Silvestro     HVM                1m39.3440s  Group 2
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