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Formula One Motor Racing : Schu gets Ruben of the green.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER conjured another of his breath-taking last-gasp

finishes to snatch pole slot for today's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

But the world champion was made to battle all the way for the 45th pole of his career as he edged team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who was using the new Ferrari for the first time this term.

Schumacher came out on top by just 0.064secs and said: "Rubens gave me a hard-time but that is the way it should be. It was fun out there and was so close between us

"It shows we have mutual confidence in each other. I am confident - we are well sorted."

The 33-year-old already leads the championship by eight points from the Williams of brother Ralf, who had to settle for third place on the grid, and another victory would move Michael closer to a fifth drivers' crown.

Ralf's team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth, ensuring the Colombian will start directly behind his Ferrari rival.Montoya has warned Schumacher he wants revenge for their crash in Brazil two weeks ago when he accused the German of deliberately cutting across him.

McLaren's David Coulthard was best-placed Brit but will start sixth behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Scot desperately needs a good result and cannot allow Schumacher to extend his 22-point lead over him if he is to stand any chance of the title.

Coulthard, on the podium in his last four visits to Imola, said: "We need to take a big step to catch Ferrari and Williams. If we can do that maybe we can get a podium but it will be tough."

England's Jenson Button - who has been tipped as a candidate to partner Schumacher in 2003 in what would be a dream move to Ferrari - qualified ninth for Renault.

Scot Allan McNish took 17th for Toyota, one slot better than the Jaguar of Eddie Irvine. McNish said: "It was a good day, although we are not as high up the grid as we would have liked. This is a representative position for us at the event."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 14, 2002
Words:344
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