Espargaro masters tricky conditions to take pole at Assen

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Open class rider takes first MotoGP pole ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa

Aleix Espargaro set the quickest lap time during today’s qualifying for the Iveco Daily TT at Assen with the NGM Forward Racing man adapting best to the mixed weather conditions that saw light rain disrupting the Qualifying 2 session. Starting behind Espargaro on the front row in second and third respectively will be MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa for the Repsol Honda team.

I’m really happy. It’s so far a perfect weekend.

Aleix Espargaro

There was a raft of riders eager to set an early lap time in the dry track conditions as the weather forecast had warned of light rain to fall this afternoon, and that’s exactly what Espargaro did in banking a fastest time of 1m 38.789s to give him his first pole position of his MotoGP career while Marquez was 1.4s off the Open Class Yamaha while Pedrosa set a best lap time of 1m 40.732s.

Andrea Iannone was once again near the sharp end with the Pramac Racing rider securing a fourth place start with a lap time of 1m 40.786s while factory Ducati rider Cal Crutchlow was back lapping near the front and the British rider will start from fifth place tomorrow and his fellow countryman Bradley Smith starts alongside him with a best lap of 1m 40.818s for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

The third row is headed up by Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati Team GP14 with the Italian setting a 1m 41.140s lap time ahead of LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in 8th place and starting from 9th will be Jorge Lorenzo on the Movistar Yamaha with the double MotoGP world champion logging a best time of 1m 42.259s while starting from 10th will be Alvaro Bautista with the GO&Fun Honda Gresini rider setting a best time of 1m 42.884s. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) were off the pace somewhat and will start from 11th and 12th respectively.

Espargaro was ecstatic after taking his first career MotoGP pole and said, “I’m really happy. It’s so far a perfect weekend: yesterday we set the record of the track, today the pole position and tomorrow it will be a special feeling to take the start of my 150th GP from the first spot of the grid in front of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. We have been fast in all the sessions and when it started to rain at the beginning of the Q2, I decided to wait just 30 seconds to avoid to be packed in the group. It was a risk but it paid and it was the right decision. I want to thank the whole team for the great work”.

Marquez was happy to secure another front row start. He said, “I’m happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole! The weather was very unpredictable, as sometimes it was raining and then it stopped – meaning that conditions were far from ideal. My goal was to get onto the front row, so when I saw that I was up into second I decided not to take any more risks; there was a lot to lose and not much to gain, so I kept calm because I had already reached my target.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Pedrosa is remains unsure of what tomorrow will bring in terms of weather conditions saying, “It was a difficult session because the track was half-dry, half-wet, and then it started to rain more heavily. We went out with slick tyres and had time to put in a couple of laps, although there was a lot of traffic and we were all close together. It was hard to know how much of a risk we could take. Finally, with the track half-wet, we managed to set a good time and qualify on the front row which I'm happy with. Tomorrow we will continue working on the bike and try to have a good race, which could be either dry or wet.”

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Event Dutch TT
Article type Qualifying reports
Tags assen, espargaro, featured, forward racing, hatch, marquez, pedrosa, repsol honda