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Schumacher Earns Pole in Bahrain

April 3, 2004

SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) _ Michael Schumacher had the fastest qualifying time Saturday for the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix, his third consecutive pole of the season.

The six-time Formula One champion was timed 1 minute, 30.139 seconds on the new 3.4-mile Bahrain International Circuit. He recorded his 58th career pole, closing in on Ayrton Senna’s record of 65.

Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello was second at 1:30.530 on a day when track temperatures were around 122 degrees. Williams-BMW drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher were third and fourth.

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen will be last on Sunday’s grid after his car died on the warmup lap. Raikkonen has failed to finish a race this season after being second in the 2003 standings to Michael Schumacher, losing the title by two points in the last race.

Michael Schumacher leads the championship with 20 points after winning the first two races, and Barrichello is second with 13.

Qualifying times may not indicate the fastest cars because teams have different strategies with fuel and tires for Sunday’s 57-lap race.

Raikkonen’s engine caught fire in Friday’s practice and he had to get a replacement. New regulations allow only one engine per weekend with a penalty of 10 grid positions.

However, without recording a time in qualifying he will start last. He began last in the 2003 Spanish Grand Prix and crashed within seconds of the start.

The desert circuit was built in 16 months after Bahrain was given the chance to host a Formula One race.

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