Hopkins on top, Rossi in the back for Dutch TT

Rizla Suzuki racer John Hopkins grabbed the pole position for the A-Style TT Assen Grand Prix, eighth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). Kawasaki`s Shinya Nakano and yesterday`s fastest in practice Colin Edwards...

Rizla Suzuki racer John Hopkins grabbed the pole position for the A-Style TT Assen Grand Prix, eighth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). Kawasaki`s Shinya Nakano and yesterday`s fastest in practice Colin Edwards completed the front row.

Current World Champion, Valentino Rossi, who is racing injured after a fall he suffered on Thursday, ended-up the session in last position.

Hopkins set a laptime of 1m36s411 to snatch his first career pole after being in the front row three times this season. The American took fourth place in Catalunya last weekend and now looks for a strong performance in Dutch TT tomorrow.

"What can I say? I've had lots of front row starts and now I've finally got that pole position!", Hopkins said. "I'm really happy about it. I am pleased with how the set-up has gone and I am enjoying the track and making the best of everything. My team is working really hard and Bridgestone have brought some great tyres for this weekend. We have got to try really hard tomorrow and go after that first podium."

The 23 year-old rider knows the challenge for Saturday`s race will be hard, but stays confident with the Suzuki-Bridgestone combination. "Edwards is running a really fast pace so we know we will have to work hard in the race. It's a huge weight off our shoulders - getting this pole position out of the way - now we have to concentrate on the 26-laps tomorrow."

"I am feeling good about the whole situation. My thanks go to the crew, to Bridgestone for some awesome tyres and to Suzuki for improving their level so much, everything seems to be coming together and we are looking forward to tomorrow", added Hopkins.

Nakano`s time of 1m36s424 put him right there in the fight for the pole and allowed him to repeat his French GP`s front row. The Japanese will try now to reach his first season podium.

"Everything came together for us today. The bike and tyres were working well, especially the qualifiers from Bridgestone, so I knew that pole position was a possibility. In the end I lost out by the smallest amount, but the important thing is that I will start the race from the front row", admitted the 28 year-old rider.

With the achievement of the front row for on the grid, Nakano has a clear target for the race: to take his best result of the season.

"I need to make sure I get away cleanly from the line tomorrow, so I can take maximum advantage of starting with a clear track in front of me. On race tyres today I was able to lap consistently to stay in the top five on the timesheet, so our original aim for the weekend of securing our best result of the season so far is looking to be a very realistic possibility", Nakano commented.

With Rossi`s incident, Edwards became the main card of Camel Yamaha to fight for the victory. The American racer set 1m36s755 to repeat China`s performance in third place.

"Obviously I would have liked to be on pole position and I felt with the pace we were setting that we had a good shot. I went out there at the start of the session and ran a couple of tyres. On my final race tyre I was really happy with the pace and then we started throwing some qualifiers on but I don't know if I had a 1'36.4 in my bag. I was pretty happy with 36.7 that I did but for Hopkins and Nakano to do a 36.4 was pretty impressive so it would have been a case of taking my brain out and setting it on one side to try and match that!", mentioned the Texas born rider.

Rossi`s performance was the opposite od his teammate. The Italian completed the session with the obvious consequences of his hairline fracture to the pisiform bone on his right hand and his left malleolus. In the end, Rossi clocked 1m40s298 to finish almost a second away from rookie Ivan Silva, 17th in the grid.

"This afternoon I tried using some painkillers but the fracture in my right wrist hurts a lot. Truly it was very difficult to ride - the hand is very swollen and I don't have much strength. Together with Marco Montanari and Doctor Claudio Costa we have done the best that was possible, I've had a lot of treatment and I was able to ride for a few laps, but the strong pain stopped me from finishing the qualifying session", explained Rossi.

The World Champion will undergo further therapy this evening but his participation in the event will not be 100% confirmed until after tomorrow's morning warm-up, when he will make a final assessment of his fitness along with the Clinica Mobile doctors.

"Tomorrow we will see how I am and, depending on what happens in the warm-up, we will decide whether I will ride or not. Anyway it's going to be very difficult. We tried to move the brake lever a little bit down and we're now looking at the possibility of making a bigger brake lever to see if this is better for me", Rossi concluded.

The situation is not the best for the Yamaha ace in the Dutch TT. To miss the race should be a hard blow to his title hopes since his main rivals will be present in the starting grid fighting for the victory.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Shinya Nakano , John Hopkins , Ivan Silva