Assen did it again. The weather messed us around all day and just when we thought qualifying would be dry the rains came again and it was properly wet. Jorge Lorenzo’s ghosts didn’t haunt him, they tormented him and he was nowhere near escaping from Q1. He will start from twenty-first on the grid; you won’t be surprised to hear that is his worst ever in MotoGP. But you don’t put Jorge down easily. He reckons he was caught out by a particularly heavy burst of rain while he was changing tyre, and without that he would have been fifth or better.
Just to show how weird this weekend has been, Jorge was second fastest in FP4 beaten only by eventual pole man Johann Zarco. Yup. Zarco. He’s got on the podium, he’s rattled the established stars’ cages and now he’s on pole. Some rookie. As usual, he didn’t seem particularly bothered by his achievement. Marc Marquez said he’d “look forward to following him” and made it sound like a threat. He’d also said that he knew “Vinales would arrive.” Didn’t mention Valentino.
This may be the first time we get that Vinales-Marquez dice we have been waiting to see this year. It might be behind Zarco, but there is a chance. Ducati’s? Not sure. Petrucci nearly took pole but knows he’s in trouble if it’s cool tomorrow and he has to use the soft tyres. Like Zarco he managed to look remarkably unimpressed with his achievement, his second front row in a row – and it would have been three if he hadn’t picked up a penalty in Mugello. I think the knowledge he lost pole by making a mistake in the very last corner of the last lap was preying on his mind.
It’s worth noting that there are two more Yamaha on the second row; Rossi and Folger. Valentino clearly likes the “new” chassis, he tested it against the original 2017 model yesterday and today appears to be more than happy with it. There is a strong rumour doing the rounds that the “new” chase is in fact an old chassis, one that moved across to the factory team garage from Tech 3 on Friday. Of course no-one will confirm that but Valentino had his best Friday of the year and is looking very pleased with himself. Last time out he said last year’s chassis was definitely better than this year’s and it was “more natural” to ride. Draw your own conclusions.