MotoGP: Friday Brings Close Qualifying at Assen

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With the Dutch GP a day ahead of the other racing events, today’s Friday qualifying session was not only special because of its weekday time slot, but also because of the close clustering of riders for the top 3 spots. Valentino Rossi had a squeaker of a run, just beating out Dani Pedrosa by under a tenth of a second. Rossi is looking for his 100th win at the Dutch track, and seems to be on-track to achieving that goal.

Pedrosa seems to be recovering well after taking the Barcelona test day off, although the Spanish rider admits that his tow behind Rossi in the final minutes of the qualifying session attributed to his front-row placement. He will be joined on the front-row by fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who will take the 3rd spot on the starting line. Lorenzo is the only rider who has been at the front 3-spots on the starting line at every GP this season so far.

Casey Stoner was less pleased with the traffic on the Dutch track than Pedrosa. The 2007 World Champion lost his temper more than once today, first with Randy de Puniet, who apparently held him up in the morning practice, and later with Sete Gibernau in the afternoon qualifier.
After coming into the pits, and giving the international gesture for cordial relations, the visibly upset Stoner said the following:

“Things are going pretty well for us in terms of race set-up. When I put the qualifiers on I had so many riders in front of me it wasn’t funny. We had Sete Gibernau in the middle of the track in a sixth gear area, he looked around and saw me coming and didn’t bother to get out of the way. It has happened to me about six times this weekend and I’m starting to think it’s ridiculous.

I’m not the only one it happens to, it just seems like the riders running towards the rear of the field have no care and no worries about the guys setting the faster lap times. I’m pretty disappointed about qualifying but our race pace is looking ok.”

Randy DePuniet looked to be on track for a great start at Assen, being the fastest rider in the First Practice Session. However, after a bad crash, the Frenchman seemed to lose a step. He will start from 10th place, an usual spot for him this season. Colin Edwards is also looking this weekend, with the American starting 5th. Edwards has become a second row regular this season, but has yet to capitalize on that fact come race day.

Qualifying Results from MotoGP at the Dutch GP in Assen, Netherlands:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff. Prev.
1 46 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 1’36.025
2 3 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1’36.110 0.085 0.085
3 99 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1’36.393 0.368 0.283
4 27 Casey STONER DUCATI 1’36.633 0.608 0.240
5 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1’36.760 0.735 0.127
6 65 Loris CAPIROSSI SUZUKI 1’36.953 0.928 0.193
7 7 Chris VERMEULEN SUZUKI 1’37.194 1.169 0.241
8 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1’37.237 1.212 0.043
9 52 James TOSELAND YAMAHA 1’37.323 1.298 0.086
10 14 Randy DE PUNIET HONDA 1’37.473 1.448 0.150
11 15 Alex DE ANGELIS HONDA 1’37.637 1.612 0.164
12 36 Mika KALLIO DUCATI 1’37.749 1.724 0.112
13 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1’37.759 1.734 0.010
14 33 Marco MELANDRI KAWASAKI 1’37.948 1.923 0.189
15 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 1’38.136 2.111 0.188
16 59 Sete GIBERNAU DUCATI 1’38.453 2.428 0.317
17 88 Niccolo CANEPA DUCATI 1’38.605 2.580 0.152
18 72 Yuki TAKAHASHI HONDA 1’38.619 2.594 0.014
19 41 Gabor TALMACSI HONDA 1’39.407 3.382 0.788