Although rain is not uncommon with the Dutch TT, Friday’s precipitation did cause a stir in final MotoGP qualifying at the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen. What started as a light sprinkling turned into a heartier downpour as the Q2 session progressed. The final result was that Saturday’s pole-sitter is NGM Forward Racing Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro, thanks to a fastest lap time of 1:38.789. This was not only the 24-year-old’s first pole position, it was also a first for the NGM Forward Racing team.
“I’m really happy because we were waiting for the first pole since Qatar, where I did two crashes,” Espargaro said on Cycle News. “So I’m really happy. It was really a strange qualifying. I let everybody go and I find my space on the track because were 11 riders together.
“I was lucky to get one free lap and then I was really lucky because it continued rain and nobody can improve the time,” Espargaro continued. “I’m really happy and I think tomorrow is going to be a fun day because we have really good pace. I think we can stay, at least a couple of laps, with the top guys. It would be really good for us.”
With the rain literally looming on the horizon, the Q2 session saw the riders trying to turn their fastest laps within the first few minutes of the session before the track was completely wet. Repsol Honda teammates Marc Marquez (1:40.194) and Dani Pedrosa (1:40.732) managed to do this and the Spaniards round out the front row of the grid.
"I’m happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole,” Marquez said. “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,” Marquez continued. “There was a lot to lose and not much to gain, so I kept calm because I had already reached my target."
Added Pedrosa: "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 tires 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,” he continued. “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."
Movistar Yamaha teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both suffered in the wet. Last year’s Assen winner Rossi will start from row four in 12th position while teammate Lorenzo will start from the ninth spot on row three.
Tags: Aleix Espargaro, Assen, Circuit van Drenthe, Cycle News, Dani Pedrosa, Dutch TT, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Motorsports, Movistar Yamaha, Repsol Honda, Valentino Rossi
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