These just in:
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.
Assen (The Netherlands), 24th June 2017
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Valentino Rossi displayed great form in the free practice sessions and followed it up with a strong Q2 performance. He put in some hot laps around the TT Circuit Assen, setting the fourth fastest time. Teammate Maverick Viñales was unable to ride his YZR-M1 the way he had in mind and will start tomorrow’s race from the fourth row on the grid.
After getting a good feel for the wet conditions in FP3 and FP4, Rossi was determined to drop a fast time during the 15-minute long Q2 session. He stated his case clearly when he momentarily took pole on his first flying lap, before being pushed back to fifth place. His second attempt gained him one position, but he was soon back in fifth and briefly dropped to seventh.
It was his fourth hot lap that moved him up to second and, with the pole so close, the Doctor upped the intensity. He really put the hammer down on his next try and, being moved back to third, he climbed back up to second. He had two more goes left, but he lost time as he had to avoid one of his rivals suffering a technical issue. With just one more possibility to make his mark, he once again put his head down and set a red sector in S3. He beat his own best time and posted a 1’46.705s for fourth place, 0.564s from first.
Teammate Viñales started the Q2 session as one of the first riders to leave the box, to be assured of some clear track space. He briefly took second place on his first flying lap, before being pushed back down to tenth. His second attempt improved his time but didn‘t gain him a position, and he quickly returned to the pits with a little more than seven minutes remaining.
He rejoined the track a quick minute later. The Spaniard shaved off more than a second from his fastest time thus far with a 1’48.266s, which moved him up to seventh place. He continued to look threatening over the next two laps, setting personal best sectors, but he was unable to move up the order. He will start tomorrow’s race from eleventh position on the grid.
Today was a very complicated day to get it right for both the riders and the mechanics. The change in conditions – and even the different conditions between track sectors – kept everyone on their toes. Valentino did a great job adapting to the different situations per session and his confidence really showed when he set a couple of fast times in Q2. It was too bad he lost some time during one of his hot laps because, had he been able to complete it without any obstacles, he could have secured a place on the first row. Maverick had a very good feeling on the bike this morning, but unfortunately the qualifying didn’t go as we expected. He couldn‘t push the way he wanted to. The team will work hard to find a solution to the problems he experienced this afternoon, so he can have a good start from the fourth row. For him the beginning of the race will be crucial and hopefully he will hit the front of the field early on. We will exploit the time in the warm up session to fine-tune the bikes for the race, regardless of the weather conditions.
It‘s a shame I didn‘t get front row, but it‘s very important for the race to start from within the top-5. I‘m in fourth position and that‘s a good place and it was also a positive day because I was always competitive from this morning and I feel good with the bike. We had two practice sessions that were more or less fully wet, so we could work on the new chassis. This was very important to understand if we can be competitive, and the feeling was quite positive. Now we have to await the weather and the conditions. Here in Assen it‘s always a big surprise. We hope for either a full dry or a full wet race.
In FP3 I was feeling really good, even if the conditions were tricky. I was feeling great on the bike, but in qualifying I had no feeling and I couldn‘t push. It wasn‘t a problem with the tyres, because I think those were quite OK. I don‘t know why, but it was just my feeling and I couldn‘t push any more than I did. Starting from eleventh is difficult, especially the first few corners, so it will be important to be concentrated. I will try to make some fast overtakes and try to catch the front riders in the early stages of the race.
THIRD ROW FOR CRUTCHLOW AS RAIN HITS ASSEN
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow qualified on the third row for the Dutch Grand Prix after rain dominated proceedings at Assen on Saturday. Having been fifth on the timesheets overnight, the Briton’s hopes of making further progress on Saturday were hit by the wet conditions as he failed to find the rhythm he was looking for aboard his RC213V.
Rain in the morning’s FP3 session set the tone, with the top ten from Friday moving straight through to Q2 with lap times well down. The circuit did threaten to dry out at one point, but more rain ensured qualifying took place in slippery conditions with Crutchlow relieved to come through unscathed in eighth position.
The 31-year-old admitted afterwards he had found riding in the wet a struggle and is hoping for dry conditions in Sunday’s race. MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco will start at the head of the field having secured his first-ever premier class pole.
Cal Crutchlow – 8th
(1’40.042 – lap 8 of 8)
“We just tried to survive in the qualifying session, it was a lottery really just to stay on as it was not the best conditions. The track was really greasy, but congratulations to the guys on the front row, they managed the situation well. I didn’t have a great feeling with the bike or tyres today, but hopefully tomorrow will be better”.
“We are struggling in the wet at the moment. I won a race last year in the rain and took a pole, but this year I don’t have any feeling and the bike is moving a lot in the corner. In the dry I feel really comfortable and confident, I would have preferred some more dry track time this weekend, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Marquez second fastest at wet TT Assen, Pedrosa on fourth row
Qualifying day at the Dutch TT dawned wet as expected, with all of the day’s sessions affected by rain to greater or lesser extents.
Marc Marquez set the third fastest time in FP3 on a wet track and the seventh fastest in FP4 in mixed conditions before attaining a very important front-row start position during qualifying, on a wet-but-drying surface. Marc set a series of fastest laps throughout the 15-minute stint and was pushed off provisional pole only by Johann Zarco at the very end, by just 0.065 seconds.
Dani Pedrosa had to settle for a fourth-row start after struggling all day with a lack of grip, finding it hard to put enough heat into the tyres in today’s challenging weather conditions.
Weather forecasts indicate dry conditions for tomorrow’s MotoGP race, which will get underway at 1 p.m. local time.
“Today was one of those days when you have to take some risks because you ‘need’ to be there. Toward the end of the session, a dry line started to form and we were able to be faster and faster. At the very end I missed the chance to do another lap when I took the flag by a couple of seconds. But okay, we’re on the front row, which was the main target for today. The team did a great job and I’m happy. Tomorrow we’ll see what weather we have. You never know here; it can change every five minutes. Our opponents are strong in both wet and dry, but we’re not so far off and tomorrow we’ll try to start well, stay with them, and fight for the podium.”
“It was impossible for me to ride normally today, as I couldn’t put any temperature in the tyres, especially the rear and especially on the full wet. I had no grip at all; the tyres were too hard for me. We tried everything on the bike, everything on the tyres, everything on track, but unfortunately there was nothing to do. For tomorrow, of course we must adapt to the situation, which isn’t the best for me at this track, but I’ll try to focus on the race and do as well as possible.”
NICE PERFORMANCE FOR SAM LOWES WHO GOES THROUGH TO Q2 AND RIDES HIS RS-GP INTO THE TOP-TEN
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ WILL START FROM THE FIFTH ROW TOMORROW
This time in the Aprilia camp it was Sam Lowes with a smile on his face, having gone through to Q2 for the first time in Assen. The result is the fruit of good performance in the first qualifying session, where Sam took an excellent second place with 1’47.191 that sent him through to the second session where he competed for the best 12 spots on the grid. In Q2 the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini English rider put a time of 1’48.128 on the sheets which gave him a nice tenth place on the grid, the best of his MotoGP rookie year. This means that he will start from the best spot on the fourth row.
Aleix Espargaró proved to be fast in free practice, but the wet conditions in FP3 on Saturday kept him from making it through to Q2. In Q1, also a wet session, he did his best lap at 1’47.277. This is a time that earned him the 15th spot on the grid on the fifth row. The forecast for tomorrow, uncertain as they always are at Assen, do not rule out a dry race and the pace Aleix demonstrated on Friday make him a candidate for a comeback race, on the hunt for the best positions.
“This morning in the wet I felt good. I finished the session in seventh place with good sensations. In the afternoon I did not find the same feeling. There was less grip and the conditions were really demanding. Despite this, I missed Q2 by a hair, less than one tenth. Obviously our race tomorrow will be more complicated because of our starting position, but I think that on a dry track we will be able to do well.”
“Yesterday in the dry I was already rather fast and today in the wet I found a good feeling straight away. I have not ridden the RS-GP much in these conditions, but everything works well. The qualifiers could have gone even better. In any case, tenth place shows our progress and it is a good starting place on which to build a solid race. To be honest, I would prefer a race on dry asphalt, but I am confident in any case. The top-10 could be a realistic goal tomorrow.”
A fantastic Saturday for Octo Pramac Racing in the “Cathedral of speed”. Petrux 3rd, Scott 5th . Thank you guys
Octo Pramac Racing played the organ in the “Cathedral of Speed” of Assen. Danilo Petrucci went to celebrate with his team at the parc fermee for the third week end in a row. Scott Redding was an absolute protagonist in the Dutch Saturday.
After an outstanding Friday that ended with the seventh position and a dominant FP1, Danilo Petrucci was able to repeat himself in the qualifying session of Saturday conquering for the second consecutive time the first row. The rider from Terni was brilliant in the Q2 in wet condition, and provides Octo Pramac Racing with the third position in the grid of #DutchGP. Is going to be the first Italian in the grid for the start of the Motul TT Assen. #ForzaPetrux
Scott Redding did a masterpiece after the difficulties of Friday. The English rider was the fastest in FP1 and won brilliantly the Q1. Even if a crash during the Q2 made him lose a bit of rhythm, Scott was brilliant in remaining calm and concentrated, and after an epic run to the garage in order to reach his second bike, in the last possible lap he was able to improve himself and conquered a super second row.
3rd – Danilo Petrucci – 1’46.526
“Is a very positive moment. I am very happy for the first row. Is the second time in a row, however tomorrow I will need to start in a better way compare to Barcelona. We are working very well, the feeling with the bike is very positive, and the team is doing a brilliant job. I am very optimist for tomorrow’s race as we did well also in dry conditions. If I have to be honest, I am actually hoping for dry condition”.
5th – Scott Redding – 1’47.574
“It was a very good day with this wet condition also because Friday was quite complicated. Things went well already from the morning. The main goal was to improve ourselves and we did in FP3. I was able to find confidence and it helped me to improve and to have a significant step forward. Is not easy to perform at the optimal level in Q2 after Q1. However, I tried to push at the maximum and I am satisfied with the second row”.
Rain master Miller hoping for dry Assen race
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller is hoping for a dry and fast race after qualifying in 13th position for tomorrow’s Dutch TT.
Despite wet track pace the Australian rain master does not want a repeat of the rain showers that hit today’s qualifying in advance of the 26-lap race.
Miller is the defending race winner following his superb maiden MotoGP win in last year’s rain-lashed Assen race.
The flowing 4.5km Assen circuit is one of Miller’s favourites and despite his impressive 2016 performance he is eager to show that he can be a competitive force in dry conditions.
Despite a lack of rear grip Miller dominated the wet and slippery conditions for most of the Q1 session this afternoon.
He posted his fastest lap of 1’47.217 as the chequered flag came out and missed progressing to a place in Q1 by just 26 thousandths of a second.
The inclement weather at Assen for both the morning FP3 practice and the afternoon sessions proved frustrating for Tito Rabat.
The Spaniard lacked confidence and feel on the classic Assen layout and will start from the rear of the grid for the eighth round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Jack Miller: 13th – 1’47.217
“I was struggling for grip with the wet weather tyres, no support at the rear at all but we are working hard to find a strong set-up for the race. I’m hoping for good weather because I have a really good pace in the dry and I like this track and the flowing layout. It’s going to be a long race and I’m really keen to show what I am capable of in dry conditions and go for a strong top ten result.”
Tito Rabat: 23rd – 1’48.700
“This was a very difficult qualifying session for me and I’m disappointed with this result. Now I will just focus on the race tomorrow and put this qualifying behind me. My team has some ideas for the race set-up and while I know it won’t be easy I hope to have a chance to finish in the points.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“I was expecting Jack to go through to Q2 because the conditions today are good for him but it was impossible to create any rear grip. It’s a shame. It was a frustrating day for Tito because he could not find a good feeling with the bike and it will be difficult for him starting from the last row of the grid. The weather is changeable which make the race unpredictable but I’m hoping that we will be in a position for Jack to fight for a top ten result and for Tito to score some points.”
With more developments coming from a three day test after the last MotoGP in Barcelona, the weather has not played into the hands of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team this weekend with rain and cold conditions giving a slippery race track for the KTM RC16 to prove itself. Bradley Smith was back on a motorcycle after his Barcelona qualifying crash and was keen to attack at the race track where he took podiums in 125cc and Moto2 Grands Prix. He was happy with his pace even though the position did not reflect the technical lessons learned by the No.38 crew. Team mate and Moto2 winner here in 2013 Pol Espargaro had great speed through the speed traps but struggle with grip in a session that was wet and then dying. They were 19th and 22nd.
Smith: “It wouldn’t be Assen if we didn’t have these rain showers but I was really pleased with the step that we took this afternoon as this morning the gap was quite big, but we’ve reduced that now as I felt so much better on the bike and more comfortable. In terms of grid position, of course I’d like to have done a little bit more there but some of the stuff we have learnt today we can transfer across to our dry settings and put together a solid warm up in the morning and be ready for 26 laps so we can fight for some points.”Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “The main topic of the day was to react to the conditions, be flexible and ready, and this we managed. On Bradley’s side we made a technical step forward and that was great but we learnt about running in the wet so now we have an idea about what might happen tomorrow.”