These just in:
Rain Disrupts TT Assen Qualifying For Movistar Yamaha
This afternoon's qualifying session for tomorrow's Grand Prix of the Netherlands was anything but smooth with rain falling as the clock began its 15-minute countdown.
Movistar Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were quick to leave the pits as the first drops fell but were soon embroiled in a desperate pack of riders attempting to lock down a fast time before the track was too wet. With no clear space for a clean hot lap and grip rapidly disappearing the two returned to the pits with just over five minutes remaining, Lorenzo in ninth with a 1'42.259 and Rossi in 12th with a 1'43.625.
Both returned to the track for a last attempt but the track conditions made it impossible for any improvement. As a result Lorenzo will start tomorrow's race from the third row in ninth position and Rossi will start from the fourth row in 12th.
Today's qualifying session was different from the usual MotoGP script with the rain occurring just as the session began, leading all riders to undertake only a couple of laps and in one fierce pack. That did not hinder Bradley Smith's determination to battle as the leading satellite bike in tomorrow's race, who skilfully guided his Yamaha YZR-M1 around the fast flowing Assen circuit to 6th place in qualifying. The young British rider produced a firm display today with his performance from yesterday afternoon enabling him to glide straight through to Q2, after this morning's FP3 session experienced slight rainfall which prevented the riders from improving their lap times. In the second 15 minute shootout session, the 23 year old rider formidably powered through the tricky conditions to produce a best time of 1.40,818 which will see him start tomorrow's race from the second row. The lap was fractionally off 3rd place by the blink of an eye with a gap of only 0.086 and his positive qualifying leaves the British rider primed to forcefully battle to beat his previous best result this year of 5th in Austin.
Pol Espargaro will begin round 8 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship from 11th on the grid after having experienced unlucky circumstances during qualifying today. The reigning Moto2 world champion opened proceedings in a truly inspiring manner by clinching 1st place in the dry morning practice session yesterday. He then progressed instantly through to Q2 courtesy of his FP2 time and had to face his first ever wet experience of his young MotoGP career in the most inconvenient moment of the weekend where everything comes down to one lap. He remained resolute in the tricky conditions, before pulling off a lap time of 1.43.085. Nevertheless, the solid rhythm the Spaniard showed over the whole weekend sees him remain determined to storm to success in tomorrow's 26 lap dash around the 4542 metre ?cathedral of speed'.
Tomorrow the MotoGP race at the legendary TT Assen will see Aleix Espargaro get away from pole position on the grid, ahead of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on row one.
After having set the new Circuit Best Lap yesterday, Aleix Espargaro chose the perfect strategy in a qualifying session affected by the rain. He waited the best moment to set a best lap time of 1'38.789, taking his first ever pole position in career.
It was a very special moment for the whole NGM Forward Racing Team and Colin Edwards congratulated his team mate. Aleix's result was a shiny spot in a difficult day that saw the Texan rider struggling for lack of confidence. Tomorrow Edwards will take the start of the TT Assen from the 6th row (1'35.484).
9th / 1'42.259 / 8 laps
"It was a pity because I think with dry conditions we could stay in first row, but it was dry but spitting in some places like normal Assen circumstances. Like this it's very difficult to go with slicks and understand the limit of the track. You can feel good in two or three corners and suddenly arrive on one corner and it's wet and you crash. I tried to let some riders run in first position but they didn't want to so when we arrived in the last corner I decided to push. Maybe it wasn't the right strategy. It's a lesson to learn for the future. The pace is good but obviously it's not going to be easy to overtake the in theory slower riders tomorrow. I hope to pass some people on the first corners and little by little move up. The race is long and if we have a good pace we can fight for the podium."
12th / 1'43.625 / 8 laps
"It's a shame because I was competitive today and in all the practices so I thought I could fight for a good position for tomorrow. Unfortunately we had rain at just the wrong moment and I have to start from the fourth row. This changes a lot and everything will be harder. Jorge is close to me but our competitors are on the front row so it will be hard. On the dry I know I can be competitive, I have a good pace so we have to try the maximum. We improved a lot the stability of the bike for today, so I can push. Especially this afternoon I was really good so I am happy with the pace. We have to wait for tomorrow to see what the conditions are but I hope for a dry race."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Unfortunately this afternoon was a waste. The rain and probably the position of our riders when the rain began to fall compromised the work we've done during these two days. The riders are satisfied with the bike setting and the pace is good, so to start from the third and fourth row is not the best place where we would like to be. We have to deal with that and we still believe that we can achieve good results."
6th / 1'40.818/ Laps 4
"It's good to get the second row for the race around here tomorrow as the start is always vital to the race whether it's wet or dry. I am still a little disappointed with myself as I was in a pack of twelve riders and perhaps I should have dropped back so that I could have undertaken the lap on my own without the traffic or distraction of the others. The bike felt good today despite the ever-changing conditions but it was a bit tricky at times. On my only lap, I had a big moment in the last section of the track and at one point I touched the grass so for sure I could have gone faster which is a shame as I painfully close away from my second front row start of the season. Anyway, it's a decent position to start from and I will use it to get the best possible result tomorrow whatever the weather decides to do."
11th / 1'43.085 / Laps 6
"I have no words to describe how disappointed I am. The feeling with the bike and the confidence I had this morning had been amazing and until the qualifying session it had probably been my best day on a MotoGP bike. That's what really upsets me. However, I think we have just been unlucky. In the first and only actual lap I had, I passed Jorge and tried to follow Marc who managed to do a good time. But he then slowed down and hindered my pace in the first sector. I lost too much time before I was able to pass him, so I couldn't improve my lap time anymore. Afterwards the rain was too intense to lower it further and that's why we are starting in 11th position. Nevertheless we have to be positive and I am happy to say that in the case of a dry race, we are really competitive even when starting from the fourth row, which will not give us an easy task to ascend up the field."
1st / 1'38.789
"I'm really happy. It's so far a perfect weekend: yesterday we set the record of the track, today the pole position and tomorrow it will be a special feeling to take the start of my 150th GP from the first spot of the grid in front of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. We have been fast in all the sessions and when it started to rain at the beginning of the Q2, I decided to wait just 30 seconds to avoid to be packed in the group. It was a risk but it paid and it was the right decision. I want to thank the whole team for the great work".
"It was a difficult day, I'm struggling a lot as I don't have the feeling with the front. I want to congratulate the whole team and it was great for Aleix getting the pole position. It's a shiny spot for everybody and I'm happy for the whole team that is doing a great job".
Aoyama narrowly misses out on Q2
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider to start from fourteenth after lapping just three tenths shy of second session qualification
The legendary Assen circuit lived up to its reputation for unstable weather today as a light rain shower came right on cue at the start of MotoGP qualifying this afternoon, making for an entertaining and unpredictable session. All riders went out on track and pushed for a fast time at the start of the session on slick tyres, before the track surface became too damp. It looked more like a race than a qualifying session but it was 'Open' category rider Aleix Espargaró who timed his run the best, hanging off the back of the group to clinch the first pole position of his career ahead of factory pair Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa.
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Hiroshi Aoyama has been in determined mood all weekend after finding extra confidence from a change to his front suspension set-up, which is allowing him to ride more freely and with more confidence. Hiro made progress through the Q1 session and posted two fast laps, stopping the clock at 1'34.930 to close to within 0.3 seconds of a stop in Q2. His team-mate Nicky Hayden made an honest assessment of a disappointing day that saw his usual hard work and endeavour go unrewarded as he struggled to 22nd position.
14th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.34.930: "The track conditions were changing every five minutes today and it wasn't easy to judge. Luckily qualifying took place on a dry track and even though we didn't have much time available we managed to put two fast laps together and achieve our objective of setting a 1'34. I feel pretty comfortable on the bike this weekend thanks mainly to the changes on the front suspension. The new fork seems to be helping me although we still need to keep building confidence and gradually finding the perfect set-up. Anyway, I am more comfortable today and looking forward to the race tomorrow. I will give it my best shot and hopefully finish the weekend with a strong result."
22nd Nicky Hayden 1.35.792: "It wasn't an easy session for us and it's a shame because we improved a little in the last free practice, getting down to 1'35.9 on used tyres. I improved my time in qualifying but made some mistakes. The bike didn't perform 100% but neither did I so there are no excuses, I have to take responsibility for today. I know I can do a lot better so tomorrow I will work hard to make sure that's the case. Today is over, we have to start thinking about the race now and how we can improve. We'll try to get the bike turning a little better and hopefully get a bit more out of the acceleration to keep the bike on the right line from corner to corner."
BRADL TO START FROM 8th SPOT AFTER RAIN AFFECTED QP2 AT ASSEN
Assen, 27 June: tricky conditions affected day two at The Cathedral complicating MotoGP Teams and riders job ahead tomorrow's 26-lap race. Initially the morning session saw the majority of the riders escaping the 45-min practice as the track was neither wet nor dry and the same mixed conditions influenced even the QP2 with LCR Honda Stefan Bradl setting the 8th lap time (1'41.982). Naturally the German, who will start from the middle of the third row, is not satisfied about his qualifying but he preferred to not take any risk on uncertain surface conditions.
Bradl: "We had a tricky qualifying today and even the free practice in the morning was not completely wet so we have been a bit unlucky with the weather. I do not have so much to say, we took the 8th spot in the grid because it was like a lottery. We could have pushed earlier in the session but it started to rain in certain parts of the track and in some others the asphalt was dry. We were a group of riders overtaking each others like in a race but in some points we could push and in some others we had to slow down so it was impossible for me to do a proper flying lap and I thought it was stupid to take risks".
Marquez and Pedrosa act shrewdly
Repsol Honda Team riders will start Dutch TT from second and third after a qualifying session affected by rain.
Historically, the longest running round in the World Championship has been characterised by two things: Firstly, the races being held on a Saturday. Secondly, the fact that there is always an appearance from the rain. Today it started to rain when the riders were taking to the track for the 15 minute qualifying session, with the light drizzle turning the session into a gamble. Under these difficult conditions, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa acted with intelligence and caution, taking spots on the front row of the grid. Marquez set the second quickest time, with Pedrosa third, as Alexi Espargaro took pole position.
A downpour affected the third free practice session of the weekend this morning, in which the Repsol Honda team riders were, along with Lorenzo and Petrucci, the only ones not to complete a single flying lap. The changeable weather at Assen allowed the asphalt to dry out for the fourth session, and in that runout Marc Marquez would set the fastest lap of the weekend: 1'33.462. Pedrosa was sixth, 0.891s off Marquez and more 3 tenths off his own time from yesterday.
In qualifying, with the track about to be opened, the rain returned. Riders used the early moments of the session -in which the track was not completely wet- to set their best times on slick tyres. They left the pits in groups, as if it were a race, and on the first two flying laps everyone set their fastest time of the session. Marquez and Pedrosa took second and third, respectively, as Espargaro claimed pole position. The trio will share the front row at 2pm on Saturday.
Marc Marquez 2nd 1:40.194 22 laps 100 km
"I'm happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole! The weather was very unpredictable, as sometimes it was raining and then it stopped - meaning that conditions were far from ideal. My goal was to get onto the front row, so when I saw that I was up into second I decided not to take any more risks; there was a lot to lose and not much to gain, so I kept calm because I had already reached my target".
Dani Pedrosa 3rd 1:40.732 23 laps 104 km
"It was a difficult session because the track was half-dry, half-wet, and then it started to rain more heavily. We went out with slick tyres and had time to put in a couple of laps, although there was a lot of traffic and we were all close together. It was hard to know how much of a risk we could take. Finally, with the track half-wet, we managed to set a good time and qualify on the front row which I'm happy with. Tomorrow we will continue working on the bike and try to have a good race, which could be either dry or wet".
Espargaro claims first MotoGP pole position in action-packed Assen qualifying
Round 8: Dutch TT - Qualifying
Assen, Friday June 27 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry/Wet. Ambient 18-18°C; Track 22-23°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4-QP - Dry/Wet. Ambient 20-21°C; Track 27-30°C (Bridgestone measurement)
NGM Forward Racing's Aleix Espargaro claimed his first ever pole position after a rain shower at the start of Qualifying Practice 2 turned the session into an exciting one-lap dash as riders tried to set a quick lap on slick tyres before conditions deteriorated.
Espargaro judged the conditions perfectly, running apart from the main pack of riders to set a lap time of 1'38.789 to end the session 1.405 seconds ahead of the next-best qualifier, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez. On the other Repsol Honda RC213V, Dani Pedrosa was third quickest in qualifying as he set a time of 1'40.732 before the rain intensified after which all the riders were unable to improve their times further.
Today's weather was generally fine, although the occasional rain shower created variable track conditions at times. Light rain fell at the start of the morning Free Practice 3 session, with many riders taking the opportunity to scrub a set of wet tyres for later use, before conditions improved allowing riders to use slick tyres for the rest of the session. The afternoon FP4 session was dry, allowing riders to perform longer runs on their preferred slick tyre combination, and the fine conditions allowed Marquez to set a new Circuit Best Lap record time of 1'33.462. Ambient and track temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, with today's peak track temperature of 30° being thirteen degrees cooler than yesterday.
The cooler conditions today resulted in the riders preferring softer rear slick options, while the soft compound front tyre was the most popular. However, some riders opted to use the extra-soft front slick, preferring the extra edge grip this option provides rather than the better braking stability of the soft option. If tomorrow's race is run in dry conditions, it is expected that the majority of the riders will use the softest rear slick option available to them, paired with the soft compound front slick.
Weather forecasts indicate similar conditions to today, with a fair chance of rain. The next MotoGP? session is tomorrow's Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT+1) before the twenty-six lap race commences at 1400.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
"Today's conditions were cooler with rainy periods, so the riders perhaps to use the same tyre combinations that they evaluated yesterday. In FP3 and FP4, the riders continued to use the softer rear slick options and due to the cooler weather, no Factory riders decided to try the hard rear slick option. If conditions are dry tomorrow I think most of the riders are clear on their race tyre choice, and I expect the majority of riders to use the soft compound front slick. For the rear, it appears that the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will use the medium compound rear, while most of the Ducati and Open-class entrants will use the soft compound rear. In the case of a wet race, each rider will be able to choose from the soft and hard wet tyre compounds, so even if there is rain tomorrow tyre strategy could still play an important part in the race."
Following a day of mixed weather conditions, the end of Qualifying saw both AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing riders making steady progress and achieving personal best lap times around the Dutch circuit.
#5 Johann Zarco: "Qualifying in seventh position is ok. The weather in the morning's practice session was not consistent so we tried once the wet tyres and then once the slick tyres and I didn't progress because I didn't want to take too much risk.
"In the afternoon it was completely dry and we could push a lot so the lap time improved which is good, but I didn't have as much of the positive feeling on the bike as I had yesterday. However we now have a very good reference, so for the race if we have dry conditions I can be confident to fight until the end and if it's wet we will have to be careful, finish the race and take a good result.
"Starting on the third row is not bad and tomorrow is another day."
#2 Josh Herrin: "I'm not too happy with my qualifying position but in general I think today went well as I was able to improve my lap time again.
"We're one second off P10 which is good as it's a tight group between me in twenty seventh and tenth place. My goal was to get into the 1m38s lap times and try and get near the top twenty but we're only a couple of tenths away, so it's not as bad as it looks.
"We're starting from the tail end of the grid so it won't be easy but I've been able to really improve my fitness lately and I feel a lot stronger and capable of doing consistent lap times.
"The guys are doing a great job and the bike is working well so we won't be doing any big changes for tomorrow. Today I just wasn't able to get a good clear lap as I kept making little mistakes, but I'll put this behind me now and concentrate on tomorrow. I'm ready to race!"
Team Manager - Johan Stigefelt: "It's been a pretty good weekend so far.
"With Johann we had some issues in first practice yesterday but now it's becoming better and better. He struggled a little with his feeling on the bike in qualifying but his lap times were still consistent. We had hoped for a second row position but his pace is good, so hopefully he can make a strong start tomorrow and go with the front guys."
"With Josh he has made a good step forward this weekend. Unfortunately his qualifying position is not great but his times are good and he is working hard. I'm confident he can do well in tomorrow's race and aim for similar results to Barcelona.
"So let's see how the weather turns out because with mixed conditions like today anything could happen."
Crutchlow and Dovizioso make the best of weather conditions to set fifth and seventh quickest time in TT Assen qualifying
In an incredible Q2 session, marked by light rain that increased in intensity, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso managed to make the best of the conditions to set fifth and seventh quickest times respectively. As a result the two Ducati Team riders will start tomorrow's TT Assen, round 8 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, from rows 2 and 3 of the grid.
The British rider in particular put together a good result after four difficult free practice sessions. Forced to take part in Q1, Crutchlow managed to move through to the next round, lapping in 1'34.598. Then at the start of Q2, as the rain increased, he immediately set a time of 1'40.796, which earned him fifth place on the grid for tomorrow's race, his best qualifying performance so far with Ducati.
Dovizioso instead was unable to get the best out of the few moments of dry track time available and had to settle for seventh place on the grid. However Andrea declared he was quite satisfied with the work done today, during which he tried out a slightly different set-up as well as the soft tyre, which gave good results.
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) - 5th (1'40.796)
"Obviously again today was a tough challenging day. We went the wrong way with the set-up in FP4 and I couldn't make the bike turn at all, but then for Q1 we changed something and it seemed to get better. My lap time was almost as fast as my pole time last year, so we can't really say anything! In the damp conditions, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't get past the riders in front of me because I feel we could have taken better advantage. The reality is that this afternoon we played the right cards and I threw the chips all in!"
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) - 7th (1'41.140)
"This qualifying session was a bit dangerous, but also enjoyable. Those who took the most risks went the quickest, and so in these conditions a seventh place is quite good: all I need to do tomorrow is get off the line well so as not to lose touch at the start. I'm happy with the work we did today, because in FP4 we tried a different set-up, which improved the feeling. We also pushed ahead with the soft tyre: performance drops off a bit, but it proved to be quite constant and I managed to set some good laps at the end."
AUTISTA TENTH AS RAIN DISRUPTS ASSEN QUALIFYING. REDDING 16th
The Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini experienced today a complicated qualifying day at the historic TT Assen circuit in the Netherlands: this morning the changeable weather with some light rain didn't allow Alvaro Baautista to enter directly into the decisive Qualifying 2, which decides the first twelve positions on the starting grid and then, after a good Qualifying 1 on a dry track, closed by the Spaniard with a good 1'34"274, the rain disrupted again the crucial QP2 session.
With damp track conditions, all riders were on track during the first stages of the session: a difficult situation who saw Bautista clocking the tenth fastest time, 1'42"884, which means that the Spaniard will start tomorrow's 26-laps race from the fourth row.
His teammate Scott Redding, closed the Qualifying 1 with the sixth fastest time, therefore he will start tomorrow from 16th place on the grid: the English rookie is satisfied with the behaviour of his bike in dry conditions and is confident ahead of tomorrow's race, but he's a bit disappointed to be behind Abraham and Aoyama's Honda RCV1000R machines on the grid, even if only by one tenth of a second.
ALVARO BAUTISTA (10th - 1'42"884)
"Today has been a really strange day: yesterday during practice we could set a lap time to jump right into the Qualifying 2, in order to feel more relaxed today, but it was not possible because of the traffic, and this morning it rained... During FP4 we also tried two different set-up solutions looking for more traction, but with no improvement, so we went back to the previous set-up for the Qualifying 1; in this session, however, I was able to be fast even if I didn't use new tyres but then, right at the beginning of the Q2,it started to rain and it was very risky. The conditions were the same for everyone, but on the first lap I preferred not to push too hard because if I fell and the track had dried out, I'd be in an even worse situation. Tomorrow first of all we will keep an eye on weather conditions, because overall I'm happy with my feeling on the bike in the dry".
SCOTT REDDING (16th - 1'35"059)
"The Qualifying wasn't bad, all the Open Class Hondas are very close; we made more or less the same lap time, and my race pace is quite good, so I'm not too worried about the grid position. Maybe it's going to rain for the race, so we have to change our plans because I still made no laps on the wet with this bike. Overall I'm quite happy, also because I made my best lap alone, but I'm obviously a little bit disappointed to be only the third fastest Porduction Racer Honda, even if the gap is minimal".
"I'm not happy with today's Qualifying... We want and must do better results than the tenth position on the grid: we encountered difficult conditions in the decisive Qualifying 2, but it was the same for everyone. Tomorrow the race will be definitely not easy because on this track it's really important to be in a good position in the first laps, and actually we will start from the fourth row. Scott set more or less the same time of the other ?Production Racer' bikes, so we can say that he has done his duty; I think that tomorrow he can do a good performance".