Motul TT Assen, Qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took his first ever premier class pole position at the Dutch GP, dueling it out with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as the final few seconds ticked down. Marquez crossed the line first and first – but the Frenchman almost immediately hit back to take his first MotoGP™ pole on his final lap. Zarco’s Assen heroics also make it the first French pole since Olivier Jacque in 2002. Another superstar in the battle was Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), who followed up his first ever front row in the Catalan GP by repeating the feat in the Netherlands in very different conditions.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) looked a contender for the top spot until his final sector, and although missing out the ‘Doctor’ will head the second row and has good scope to attack. Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) starts a season-best fifth after graduating from Q1 and topping FP3, and Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completes Row 2 in another impressive session from another rider with a reputation for excellence in the rain.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) crossed the line in P7 for his best QP of the season ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completing the third row after suffering a crash in QP.
Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) made the most of his first ever Q2 appearance, taking a top ten start to head up Row 4 – and ahead of Championship leader Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) starts from P12 after a more difficult day in the rain.
Those not making it through now decide the rest of the grid, with 2016 Assen winner Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) locking out the fastest fifteen.
The MotoGP™ race gets underway on Sunday at the slightly earlier hour of 13:00 (GMT +2) – with Zarco primed for a podium charge from pole.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took another impressive pole position as the 2017 points leader bounced back from a more difficult Catalan GP, heading key rival Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) by a tenth after conditions dried out for the intermediate class field to make a charge on slicks. Fellow title hopeful Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) completes the front row.
The session began with some doubt about tyre choice as the track conditions continued to improve after earlier rain, with slicks then proving the correct choice. Track action was interrupted soon after by a crash for Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) that brought out the Red Flag. The Italian is conscious and stable, and now set to stay in hospital for observation.
With the track then having had more time to dry, the times tumbled upon the restart. One rider to see a huge leap forward in the drier conditions was Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who heads up the second row, ahead of a scintillating final lap push for top rookie Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40). Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) completes Row 2, keeping his positive pace at the Dutch GP rolling.
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) staged the best comeback of the session as the veteran Italian crashed – twice, found himself almost last on the grid and then swept back to take seventh. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) suffered some slightly different fortunes as he crashed at Turn 9 after setting two red sectors – rider ok – and just got out for one more lap at the end of the session, unable to move up and therefore starting P8. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) locked out the top ten.
Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) was just pushed down into P11 by only 0.021, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), QP crasher Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team) and Simone Corsi (Speed Up).
Moto2™ have a different race time on Sunday – 14:30 (GMT +2).
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) is earning a reputation in 2017 as the polesetter in all but two of the races so far – and the Motul TT Assen is not one of the exceptions. The Spaniard sliced through the difficult, wet conditions of qualifying to flatten the field by eight tenths – breaking some home hearts as he pushed Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) off provisional pole. Nevertheless, the Dutchman flew and will start second at his home race after an impressive day of track action on Saturday. Completing the front row is Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Nicolo Bulega, who showed his huge progress in the rain once again.
Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) was another star performer in both FP3 and qualifying, and the Thai rider secured his best ever starting position as he heads the second row. CIP rider Marco Bezzechi was another who impressed in P5, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the second row in sixth.
There were a number of crashes in the session including an out-of-character off for Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) that leaves the Majorcan lining up in P7, ahead of rookie Tony Arbolino (SIC58 Squadra Corse) putting in a stunner in eighth. Manuel Pagliani (CIP) completes row three – another impressive performer in a shuffled session. Tatsuki Suzuki’s FP3 pace remained in qualifying, and the SIC58 Squadra Corse rider locks out the top ten.
Malaysian Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team), QP crasher Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team), early FP3 leader Jakub Kornfeil (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) and Marinelli Rivacold Snipers duo Jules Danilo and Romano Fenati complete the top fifteen.
Moto3™ get the Dutch GP in gear at 11:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.