STONER STORMS TO FRONT-ROW START, CAPIROSSI 10TH
Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner scored an important front-row start at rain-lashed Assen this afternoon while team-mate Loris Capirossi secured a place on the fourth row of the grid.
Just five days after his convincing British GP victory at a damp Donington Park, World Championship leader Stoner proved once again that he is on the pace, rain or shine. He led much of the wet qualifying session, eventually ending up a close second, just 0.017 seconds off pole. It was his fourth front-row performance of the year and continued an impressive Assen display - first or second in all four sessions. The Australian was fastest in yesterday's two dry outings and a close second in this morning's session, also run on a dry track. Capirossi was also running very well in the rain but lost several positions in the late stages of the qualifying session when the rain intensified.
CASEY STONER, 2nd fastest, 1m 48.572s
"I made a few mistakes early on, I couldn't really see the edge of the track because my screen was fogged up. That slide didn't feel as bad as it looked - it went, I backed it off and felt it hooking up again, just waited for it to come back. I had a couple of those moments but other than that the grip was fine, more predictable than Donington. After that we were just slowly building and getting faster, I think if I'd stayed out I could've gone a second and a half or two seconds quicker if the rain hadn't come down again. The soft tyres are working quite well for us, they look like they'll go the distance. This morning we came up with a really good dry setting, so we're also looking strong if it's dry. I think we're starting to get more and more confident with the bike. We found a big settings change at Catalunya and since then we've been very fast, wet or dry. We had to change something because Mugello was difficult, and we were really struggling in some areas at a couple of other tracks, like Shanghai. We've improved the front end, making it turn on long corners. Since then we've been able to find the settings more easily. It's not always perfect but we're able to get a reasonably good setting. From there we just make sure we get the right race tyre, and it seems like the harder the tyre, the better we go. We're having a nice time of it at the moment."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 10th fastest, 1m 50.169s
"I did my best time on hard tyres, then when it started raining very hard with ten minutes to go we should have switched to softer compounds. There wasn't much time left and we thought it would be very difficult for anyone to improve their times but they did, so I dropped from sixth to tenth. It was my mistake, I didn't evaluate the situation so well, because this track is very grippy in the wet and it drains very well, so as soon as the rain eased off several riders were able to move up the grid. It's a shame, because I was riding well, in the wet and notthe -so-wet conditions, but at least that makes me feel confident, even though I'll be starting from the fourth row of the grid. This morning in the dry we made a few small settings changes, so we are in quite good shape, whatever the weather brings tomorrow."