Round Eight – Assen
Qualifying Results / Report
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) just won’t stop breaking records. At the Motul TT Assen the Frenchman put in the fastest ever lap of the track in qualifying to take his third pole position overall, and in doing that he also becomes the youngest ever rider to take back-to-back poles in the premier class, and he looked so smooth doing it….
Fabio Quartararo – P1
“There’s not much to say; it’s just incredible. Assen is one of the most legendary circuits in the World Championship, and taking pole position and breaking the track record is amazing. I’m very proud of what the team have done. I thought it would be very difficult to beat the time in the final part of the session, but I managed two very fast laps and was able to do it. The feeling we have at this circuit, especially on the last sector, is awesome. Both yesterday and today we worked on race pace, and I think we are good in that regard. It’s a tougher circuit than Barcelona, so my arm is suffering a bit more here, but I was able to get pole position. I’m very happy.”
0.140s is the young Frenchman’s advantage over Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as the pattern of the two taking it in turns at the top continued. Where Quartararo’s fast laps looked precise and smooth, Vinales was visibly wringing the neck of his YZR-M1 to set his quick laps in a scintillating display of aggression and physicality.
Maverick Viñales – P2
“I’m really satisfied. We worked really hard throughout the whole weekend, especially in FP3, when we worked more for the race than focusing on one lap, so this means we have a good set-up. It’s important for tomorrow to have a ‘normal’ and clean race, so I can push from the first lap until the end. I have nothing to lose, so I’ll be pushing 110%. It’s also very important to be consistent and precise on the track, so you don’t miss any corners. I will try to be at my best level tomorrow and get out in front, because it’s important for me to ride my own lines. I’m going to start from the front row and fight hard.”
Alex Rins had to fight his way through from the second batch of riders in the opening Q1 session but the Suzuki man showed his determination and topped that session by almost half-a-second before then holding out Marquez in Q2 to put the Suzuki GSX-RR on the front row.
Alex Rins – P3
“Coming from Q1 was difficult, I had to give my absolute all to get into Q2. I feel quite strong, especially as I was using a used rear tyre and still set a fast lap. Tomorrow will be a tough race for sure, there will be a lot of riders close together I think, but I’m starting in a good position – on the front row. We’ve done a lot of good work so far this weekend and I’m ready to fight for a win.”
Before pole was decided, it was that Q1 that would prove crucial for one big name: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Doctor”s difficult day at the office began earlier in FP3 as his lap that would have seen him move through to Q2 was cancelled for exceeding track limits, and that left him fighting it out in Q1. In that Q1, he eventually finished fourth and will therefore start from P14, with Rins and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) the two men moving through.
Rins held the advantage first as the Suzuki man started Q2 on provisional pole, but on the second runs Viñales had something to say about it. The number 12 machine put in a stunning lap with a few minutes left on the clock to cut a few tenths off Rins’ best effort, and he was the man with the target on his back as Quartararo began his assault. But then, Quartararo began his assault.
Keeping it together to perfection and able to pull out nearly a tenth and a half by the time he crossed the line, the Frenchman made some more history – and celebrated so hard, it made the air-bag go off in his suit!
Behind that little slice of history, there’s one habitual front row starter missing from the top three: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The reigning Champion starts fourth and misses out on a place in the fastest trio for the first time this season, and he’ll be looking to slice through early off the line. This is the first time Marquez has failed to qualify on the front-row on the grid since Valencia last year.
Marc Marquez – P4
“I’m happy with the race pace and we knew before the Qualifying that it would be tough as there is more competition than normal. It looks like in the morning it is a little tricky but then in the afternoon when the conditions get warmer we are there. I think it’s going to be a very close race tomorrow and there are four or five of us with good pace. Normally it’s a circuit where we struggle, but in Mugello normally we struggle and we got second and in Montmelo we struggled and won.”
Alongside Marquez is rookie Joan Mir, the Suzuki rider put in an impressive effort to take a best-yet fifth, just into the 1m33s, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) completing the second row.
Joan Mir – P5
“I’m happy about today’s qualifying, the team and I have worked really well during the weekend and I’ve been getting faster and closer to the top guys. I made some mistakes today so I feel my lap time could have actually been better. This is my first time starting on the second row, so I’m really pleased about that; thanks to the team.”
Cal Crutchlow – P6
“I qualified sixth, but I didn’t really have the pace for sixth, it was just lucky that nobody had the pace to get past me on the second run. We’re working hard, but the reality is we’re probably about the tenth quickest guy, but last year it was a ten-man battle at the front at one point so we’ll have to try and make some improvements in the morning. I didn’t feel much better on the bike today even though we tried more or less everything as always, from my point of view it’s clear where we’re losing time and we are working on it. We’re trying our best and I’m pleased to be on the second row”.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), third on Friday, is the top Ducati in qualifying and heads up an incredibly tight third row, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in P8 and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) locking it out in ninth. The three men are covered by just 0.032.
Danilo Petrucci – P7
“I tried to push as hard as I could, taking also some big risks, but the higher temperatures troubled us a bit, as both the grip and the overall stability diminished. Undoubtedly we expected to be able to do better. It’s a pity, because this morning in FP3 I felt so comfortable that I told the team I had the best bike I’ve ever ridden here at Assen, and I posted the provisional lap record. To be honest, it has also been a bit chaotic out there in Q2 because all riders were sort of guarding one another closely. Tomorrow it shouldn’t be as hot, or at least I hope so: we’ll analyze the data to make sure we can express our full potential during the race.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P8
“I’m quite happy, because it’s quite a big improvement from yesterday from FP2. Of course the track condition was better, there was more rubber on the track and so everybody was much faster than yesterday which helps. Our set-up of the bike was much easier to ride today, but we still have to improve for the race because it still takes a lot of energy to ride this bike. I’m a little disappointed because I think qualifying was there to attack and when I saw the chequered flag I was P6, but after that I checked the second screen and I was P8 which I didn’t understand. But we spoke with race direction to see where I cut the track limit and I understand maybe the last chicane, on the right. But I am really close to the second row and we are improving all the time. It’s a really long race tomorrow and hopefully we can make no mistakes and be very focused during the race.”
Franco Morbidelli – P9
“We’ve been able to improve a lot compared to yesterday, so that’s very positive. I was able to go faster both in terms of my pace and my flying lap. Even so, we’re still lacking something if we compare my time with the fastest riders. My pace in FP4 wasn’t bad and I think we can fight for the top five. We still have the warm-up tomorrow to come, where we will be able to see where we are. If the race has a large group, I think I can be up at the front.”
2016 Assen winner Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completes the top ten with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) a few further tenths off the Australian in P11.
Jack Miller – P10
“I can’t be satisfied with the qualifying. To be honest, I thought I could do better. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any grip on the soft tyres. The race pace with the hard tyre, however, is very good. We can have a good race tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P11
“It’s been a bit of a strange day, with really high temperatures. After starting off on the right foot in free practice, unfortunately we couldn’t be as competitive during qualifying. It’s a shame because starting from fourth row complicates our plans a bit, but I wasn’t able to complete a ‘clean’ lap. We’re more competitive in terms of pace, we still have to improve but I believe we can ride a solid race. A lot will depend on what weather conditions we’ll find tomorrow. At any rate, we won’t give up and we’ll try to be fast in any condition.”
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the final man in Q2 in P12, not far off the Italian ahead of him.
Pol Espargaro – P12
“For sure I am not riding as I want or I wish but it is what I have right now. It is better than in Barcelona where I could not move two fingers or my wrist up or down. We expect the race tomorrow to be really hot and very tricky for everyone. The whole grid might slow the rhythm and I will feel a bit more comfortable. Let’s see what lap-time I can hold.”
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) starts just ahead of Rossi, with the number 46 facing down a few of his VR46 Riders Academy proteges in his mission to move forward on Sunday. He’s won ten times at Assen, and he is the Sunday miracle maker. Can he get in the fight at the front?
Valentino Rossi – P14
“It’s a great shame, because this morning I wasn’t so bad. I set a very good time on my last lap to get directly into Q2, which is always crucial. But unfortunately I touched the green exit on the last chicane and they cancelled the lap, so I had to go through Q1. I was still quite optimistic, because I was quite strong this morning, but with the higher temperatures I had more problems and less grip. Unfortunately, I was slower, so it was not enough to get into Q2.”
MotoGP Combined Times
Remy Gardner’s (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) 1:36.572 in Moto2 Q2 at the Motul TT Assen sees him join a very illustrious list of Australian Grand Prix polesitters as two late flying laps puts the Kalex rider 0.110 clear of second place Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). The KTM rider kept his Friday form to beat Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) to second by hundredths despite needing to put in a stunner of a save at Turn 5.
It was Vierge who looked like he would be the man to beat in Q2 after the Spaniard was able to half a second clear of the pack with a storming time, but Binder hit back to continue the upturn for KTM. But then Gardner, the man who sat nearly six tenths clear of the rest in FP3, started to find his rhythm.
The Australian’s first attempt was 0.016 faster than the South African, but he managed to pull a bit more margin out on his second run to secure the first Australian intermediate class pole since Casey Stoner did it in the 250cc class at Phillip Island in 2005.
Behind the top three, Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will start from P4 and he spearheads a second row that consists of Q1 graduate Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up). It’s Di Giannantonio’s second consecutive second row start after a P5 in Barcelona, and Marquez won from P6 in Catalunya…
Seventh is Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up), just behind his rookie teammate and looking to move forward, with second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) down in P8 and with a little more work to do than key rival Marquez. He has rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) for company completing Row 3, another newcomer who bested his teammate as second Italtrans rider Andrea Locatelli starts tenth.
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) will want more than P11 on race day, as will Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) just behind him. Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) is a similar story after the Barcelona polesitter took P13 ahead of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), but it’s more true of former Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) than any as he faces a fight back from P16.
|6||Fabio Di Giannantoni||SPEED UP||Q2||1m36.979|
|7||Jorge Navarro||SPEED UP||Q2||1m37.076|
|19||Dominique Aegerter||MV AGUSTA||Q1||1m37.529|
|21||Stefano Manzi||MV AGUSTA||Q1||1m37.789|
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) has brought the run of different polesitters in the opening rounds of the Moto3 season to an end, with the Italian setting a new record in qualifying at the Motul TT Assen to head the grid for Sunday’s race. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) in second, with Mugello winner Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) taking third and just 0.013 in further arrears.
It was a frantic, manic Moto3 Q2 and Toba sat atop the timesheets before the final flyer came in from Antonelli, but it’s nevertheless a good start down the path to redemption for the Japanese rider after a heartbreaking crash on the final lap in Barcelona that saw him slide out the lead. And the last time he was on the front row, he won the race…and all three men on the front row have the best chance to become the first repeat winner of the year.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was fourth fastest and is one of the men best-placed to try and keep the record-breaking run of different winners going, joined on Row 2 by rookie duo Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), both of whom are also looking for their first Grand Prix wins.
Friday’s fastest Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) heads the third row, another to have not yet taken to the top step, but he’s in serious company as the men first and second in the standings line up alongside him. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) is P8 after coming through Q1 and the man he’s chasing, Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), was just 0.014 off him in ninth.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was tenth quickest but has a six-place grid penalty to serve, so it’s Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) who starts in P10, with rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Catalan GP winner – and Q1 graduate – Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) joining him on the fourth row.
It’s already a record-breaking run in the lightweight class with 12 different winners in a row. Antonelli is now a repeat polesitter, can he become the first repeat winner?
|8||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||HONDA||Q2||1m41.905|
|29||Ryan VAN DE LAGEMA||KTM||Q1||1m45.096|
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