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Schumacher Takes Pole in Hectic Qualifying at Japan

World Champion Michael Schumacher claimed the 63rd pole position of his career as he benefited from drying conditions in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

World Champion Michael Schumacher claimed the 63rd pole position of his career as he benefited from drying conditions in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver, the penultimate man on track, produced his best at Suzuka in tricky conditions after the qualifying got underway a day late after the threat of Typhoon Ma-on passed by without incident.

Schumacher will start alongside brother Ralf on the front row after the Williams-BMW driver returned to form in his second race back from injury.

Jaguar driver Mark Webber surprisingly took third place for the Milton Keynes-based team, who have been put up for sale by owners Ford, after an faultless lap from the Australian.

BAR-Honda pair Takuma Sato and Jenson Button will begin from the fourth and fifth on the grid respectively, with Toyota's Jarno Trulli sixth and Giancarlo Fisichella seventh for Sauber.

McLaren's David Coulthard qualified in eighth place with Renault driver Jacques Villeneuve and Toyota's Olivier Panis, in his last Grand Prix start, completing the top-ten.

Minardi driver Zsolt Baumgartner, having spun in qualifying, failed to take to the track for his qualifying lap and will begin the race for the back of the grid.

With the racing line drying, Juan Pablo Montoya was the first man to opt to run on dry weather tyres and he held top spot by some margin until Fernando Alonso bettered his time by almost a second.

Villeneuve took over from Renault teammate Alonso at the top of the times before Sauber's Felipe Massa abandoned his qualifying run after running wide onto the gravel.

Button produced a faultless lap to move 1.1 seconds quicker than Alonso as the circuit continued to dry to make matters easier for the later runners, with Coulthard then slotting into second place.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, winner of the last two Grands Prix, finished almost 3.5 seconds slower than Button's best time, and Fisichella replaced Coulthard in second spot.

Home favourite Sato took over at the head of the time after going 0.260 seconds quicker than BAR teammate Button, despite a moment late in his lap as he pushed hard.

Jaguar driver Webber produced an impressive lap to go quickest, before Ralf Schumacher went faster still. World Champion Schumacher continued the trend by taking over at the top and Trulli was only able to go sixth quickest.

Pos Driver Team Time 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:33.542 2. R.Schumacher Williams-BMW (M) 1:34.032 + 0.490 3. Webber Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:34.571 + 1.029 4. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:34.897 + 1.355 5. Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:35.157 + 1.615 6. Trulli Toyota (M) 1:35.213 + 1.671 7. Fisichella Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:36.136 + 2.594 8. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:36.156 + 2.614 9. Villeneuve Renault (M) 1:36.274 + 2.732 10. Panis Toyota (M) 1:36.420 + 2.878 11. Alonso Renault (M) 1:36.663 + 3.121 12. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:36.820 + 3.278 13. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) 1:37.653 + 4.111 14. Klien Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:38.258 + 4.716 15. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:38.637 + 5.095 16. Heidfeld Jordan-Ford (B) 1:41.953 + 8.411 17. Glock Jordan-Ford (B) 1:43.533 + 9.991 18. Bruni Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:48.069 + 14.527 19. Massa Sauber-Petronas (B) No Time 20. Baumgartner Minardi-Cosworth (B) No Time All timing unofficial

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