MotoGP: Stop-and-Go Qualifying at Assen

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With the Dutch TT taking place on a Saturday, instead of the customary Sunday afternoon for race days, the schedule for MotoGP has been shifted ahead a day, and accordingly qualifying comes to us from a Friday. A pleasant way to end the work-week, the Dutch weather apparently didn’t get the memo before filing its TPS report of off-and-on rain, which made for an interesting qualifying session. Giving riders fifteen minutes of dry track, a drizzle hit Assen, which quickly brought the riders back into the pit box.

Getting a second chance at things though, qualifying only had another 15 minutes of dry track, as qualifying was again interrupted by the rain. With the third time being the charm, riders thrice had a chance for a maximum-speed lap, though only five minutes remained in the session. Still for many, this was enough of an opportunity to get a few flying laps on the time sheets, making for a very sporadic, yet oddly entertaining show for the assembled Dutch fans.

The biggest surprise of the whole qualifying session was Casey Stoner, who in the last remaining laps put on a free clinic of how to ride a chattering Honda RC213V faster than anyone else on the grid, including the well-behaving Yamahas. Overcoming his lackluster week thus far, Stoner will start from pole, followed by teammate Dani Pedrosa. Rounding out the front row is Jorge Lorenzo, who continues to have a firm grip on the MotoGP Championship.

A surprise second-row starter is Stefan Bradl, who got a solid tow from Valentino Rossi down the final section of the Dutch circuit, he will start from the fourth position on his satellite Honda. Meanwhile Cal Crutchlow will start fifth, after getting slowed-down with the paddock’s least favorite rider, Hector Barbera. Rounding out row two is Ben Spies, whose racing orders might be “do or die” on Saturday, as the Texan won at Assen last year.

Noticeably off the pace was Karel Abraham, who is still nursing an injured hand from Catalunya. The Czech rider sat out the British GP, and is clearly not even close to 100% in his riding form. Top CRT goes to RdP, though teammate Aleix Espargaro has been showing an improved form, making for a good scrap between the two Aspar riders. Noticeably going nowhere were the Ducati riders, which included Valentino Rossi, who was once again out-qualifed by his teammate Nicky Hayden.

Qualifying Results from the Dutch TT at Assen, The Netherlands:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike KM/H Time Diff.
1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 303.4 1’33.713
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 303.4 1’33.828 0.115
3 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 305.7 1’34.001 0.288
4 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 304.0 1’34.035 0.322
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 299.0 1’34.486 0.773
6 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 297.2 1’34.644 0.931
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 299.6 1’34.698 0.985
8 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 299.4 1’34.722 1.009
9 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 300.0 1’34.751 1.038
10 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 302.1 1’35.057 1.344
11 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 305.0 1’35.289 1.576
12 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 286.6 1’35.830 2.117
13 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 286.3 1’36.007 2.294
14 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 283.2 1’36.647 2.934
15 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 284.7 1’36.943 3.230
16 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 270.0 1’36.967 3.254
17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 302.8 1’37.110 3.397
18 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 279.8 1’37.191 3.478
19 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 283.5 1’37.281 3.568
20 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 284.3 1’37.554 3.841
21 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 283.4 1’38.305 4.592