Bridgestone: Espargaro claims first MotoGP pole position in action-packed Assen qualifying

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Aleix Espargaro claimed his first ever pole position after a rain shower.

NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro claimed his first ever pole position after a rain shower at the start of Qualifying Practice 2 turned the session into an exciting one-lap dash as riders tried to set a quick lap on slick tyres before conditions deteriorated.

Espargaro judged the conditions perfectly, running apart from the main pack of riders to set a lap time of 1'38.789 to end the session 1.405 seconds ahead of the next-best qualifier, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. On the other Repsol Honda RC213V, Dani Pedrosa was third quickest in qualifying as he set a time of 1'40.732 before the rain intensified after which all the riders were unable to improve their times further.

Today’s weather was generally fine, although the occasional rain shower created variable track conditions at times. Light rain fell at the start of the morning Free Practice 3 session, with many riders taking the opportunity to scrub a set of wet tyres for later use, before conditions improved allowing riders to use slick tyres for the rest of the session. The afternoon FP4 session was dry, allowing riders to perform longer runs on their preferred slick tyre combination, and the fine conditions allowed Marquez to set a new Circuit Best Lap record time of 1'33.462. Ambient and track temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, with today’s peak track temperature of 30° being thirteen degrees cooler than yesterday.

The cooler conditions today resulted in the riders preferring softer rear slick options, while the soft compound front tyre was the most popular. However, some riders opted to use the extra-soft front slick, preferring the extra edge grip this option provides rather than the better braking stability of the soft option. If tomorrow’s race is run in dry conditions, it is expected that the majority of the riders will use the softest rear slick option available to them, paired with the soft compound front slick.

Weather forecasts indicate similar conditions to today, with a fair chance of rain. The next MotoGP™ session is tomorrow’s Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT+1) before the twenty-six lap race commences at 1400.

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department: “Today’s conditions were cooler with rainy periods, so the riders perhaps to use the same tyre combinations that they evaluated yesterday. In FP3 and FP4, the riders continued to use the softer rear slick options and due to the cooler weather, no Factory riders decided to try the hard rear slick option. If conditions are dry tomorrow I think most of the riders are clear on their race tyre choice, and I expect the majority of riders to use the soft compound front slick. For the rear, it appears that the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will use the medium compound rear, while most of the Ducati and Open-class entrants will use the soft compound rear. In the case of a wet race, each rider will be able to choose from the soft and hard wet tyre compounds, so even if there is rain tomorrow tyre strategy could still play an important part in the race.”

Bridgestone Motorsport

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Article type Qualifying report
Tags aleix espargaro, assen, honda, motogp