Michelin's MotoGP men packed the front-running positions in this afternoon's Dutch TT qualifying session, with two Michelin riders in the top four and five in the fastest seven. In this morning's damp session Michelin riders monopolised the top...
Michelin's MotoGP men packed the front-running positions in this afternoon's Dutch TT qualifying session, with two Michelin riders in the top four and five in the fastest seven. In this morning's damp session Michelin riders monopolised the top four positions.
Today's weather stayed faithful to the Assen tradition with rain before the morning session and bright, blustery conditions this afternoon. Wet weather is a theme of the 2008 season, with rain affecting most of the nine race weekends so far.
World-title challenger Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) was Michelin's top performer today, topping the morning outing and claiming second on the grid this afternoon after getting to within 0.032 seconds of pole-position man Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici). Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) was third this morning and fourth this afternoon to share the second row of the grid with Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) and Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin). Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) leads the third row with seventh best time of the day.
"That was a tough qualifying but not so bad for us," said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "The battle this year is very hot, and it's really exciting and interesting to see how things are developing race by race. Dani's final lap this afternoon was fantastic, he ended up so close to pole. It is especially important to start from the front here because there is really only one line through the first couple of corners. We're happy because most of our riders are up front, five of them in the top seven. As is usual this year we've had some rain. This morning we weren't able to do any serious work with slick tyres but we got some very good information this afternoon to help us with race tyre choice, even though after the rain track didn't seem as grippy as before. If it stays dry from now, then I think the surface will pick up some more grip in time for the race. Because we lost this morning's session we've yet to make our final race tyre choices, though I think we will be choosing in the medium to medium-hard range, slightly harder than what we used last weekend. Once again, Casey is looking very strong. We will do our best to help our riders to achieve maximum performance."
Pedrosa was happy enough with second fastest, his first time on the MotoGP front row at Assen and his sixth front-row start from the first nine races of 2008. "This is a very complex track for set-up and we still need to try some small changes to help make me feel at ease on the bike because the pace is going to be very fast tomorrow," said the Spaniard, currently a close second in the title chase.
Former MotoGP champ Hayden was fourth quickest for the second consecutive race. "The Michelin qualifiers were working awesome round here, every one we put in I kept getting faster," said the American, who ran out of time to use his last qualifying tyre. "It would've been fun to fire the last one in there, but we ended up with one bullet left in the chamber that we didn't use."