Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who will be starting from pole at the Motul TT Assen – his first at the venue in the premier class, only the second pole of season 2018 but the 75th overall for the Spaniard.
Marc Marquez – P1
“So far this weekend, things are going better than we were hoping for. The pole has not been one of my strongest points this year, and actually this will be the first time I’ll start form the top spot, because in Austin I earned the pole but was moved back to fourth. I was very happy with the rhythm I could keep in FP3 and FP4 and now I’m even more happy for the Q2 result. We’re trying and working in a good way. At this track stability is one of the main targets to achieve and step by step we improved that a bit. Our first goal is a podium finish but honestly we now have the possibility to fight for the victory. We must remain focused and work well in tomorrow’s warm-up to try and make another little step to improve the stability and to make the final choice for the tyres.”
The horde behind him were incredibly close together after qualifying at the ‘Cathedral’ delivered an absolute classic. The top ten are within 0.376 seconds and the biggest gap between any two riders is just 0.063, setting the scene for a stunning race day once again.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) starts second with 10-time winner at the venue Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completing the front row.
Cal Crutchlow – P2
“Yeah, I feel great. The team did a good job, Honda did a good job and I think it was an exciting qualifying session for everybody. We’re pleased with the way the bike is working, although it seems a bit hard to ride still as it’s shaking a lot. But I feel strong here, I feel good and credit to the team to be able to put me on the front row. But the problem is that there are ten riders that can do the same pace. I think Marc (Marquez) has a little better pace than everybody, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to be a step ahead tomorrow. In the end, we’re happy with the job we’ve done and hopefully it will be an entertaining race tomorrow and we can be on the podium.”
Valentino Rossi – P3
“I’m so happy about the front row because I crashed in FP4, so I lost some feeling. It wasn’t easy, but I did three laps with the first tyre and recovered my line and my rhythm, and after that it was a ‘waiting game’. Everybody was waiting but I was in a good position. It was exciting because it was a really hot lap! Normally the top riders are really close, but this weekend even more so. You have many riders and three or four different bikes that can fight for the victory, so this makes it really important to start from the front row. Now we just wait for tomorrow. We hope the weather will stay like this. We have to improve some details and also the tyre choice will be very important, because all the three options are not so bad. It will be important to find the right way.”
The mad dash for pole was true to its name as the final 30 seconds saw everything shuffle and shuffle again, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) initially seeming to have the advantage before that final lap for the majority of those in the session – and the emergence of Marquez at the top.
But it’s just 0.041 back to Crutchlow and 0.059 back to Rossi, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) heading the second row despite only being 0.079 off pole.
Andrea Dovizioso – P4
“A gap of 79-thousandths of a second from pole position is very small, but in some cases, like this one unfortunately, it can be very big! In any case I’m very happy because starting from the first two rows of the grid here at Assen is always very important, and also because I didn’t expect to do a lap of 1m32s on this circuit. The qualifying session was a bit strange, with all the riders waiting, but luckily I was at the back of the group and I had Rossi just ahead of me. I’m happy with the feeling with my bike: this morning the wind direction changed from yesterday and we struggled a bit, but in the afternoon we managed to improve. For tomorrow we’re set up pretty good and, even though there are several riders who have a good pace, we are confident we can do a good race.”
The Italian is joined on Row 2 by the first of the Q1 graduates as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) impressed on his first run and his second to secure P5 as top Hamamatsu factory machine.
Alex Rins – P5
“I’m really excited about this result, from yesterday we’ve been working really hard on race pace and not really trying to find one fast lap, but finally we got it! In Q1 I was riding alone, trying to get my race pace. And in Q2 I was trying to find the best lines. I’m really happy about this result, and our rhythm for the race is very good, so I just need to make a good start. The stability of the bike has improved.”
Friday’s fastest Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts sixth and still within two tenths of pole, with the Spaniard hoping for a better launch off the line than in Barcelona.
Maverick Vinales – P6
“It was more difficult to be competitive compared to yesterday, but today we tried to give our best as always. We were focused more on riding with a heavy bike, so I had some issues when I pushed for a hot lap time, but anyway I think we can do well tomorrow. We still need to discuss the tyre choice with Michelin and the team. Starting from sixth is not bad, and for sure I will try to make a good start. I’ll be on the attack in the early laps and try to repeat what we’ve done in the practice sessions. We’ve worked a lot to prepare for the race, let’s see if it pays off. There are many riders with the same rhythm with different tyres, so it’s going to be an interesting race and tricky for sure. I know we can be there, if we work well tonight and choose the correct set-up.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) continued his solid weekend as he converted automatic entry to Q2 into seventh on the grid – as well as making it five manufacturers in the top seven.
Aleix Espargaro – P7
“I am truly very happy. It is only the qualifiers, but the seventh spot on the grid, just two tenths from the pole position time, is a fantastic result. I had fun riding because after a difficult season start, we tried to approach the weekend with a little more serenity, trying to improve consistently session after session, and it worked. We did a great job yesterday and we continued today. We achieved a good race pace and in qualifying we also showed that we are on point. For tomorrow, we’ll have to maintain this approach. We all have a very similar pace and with a good start we have a chance to battle for important positions, but it will also be important to finish the race.”
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who topped Q1 after a stunning final dash, starts from the middle of the third row – just getting the better of Iannone, who lost out in the last few seconds.
Johann Zarco – P8
“Today has been a better day than Friday, but we had some ups and downs in the course of the practices, which makes it difficult to work consistently on improving myself. We have some good things, some bad things and it kept changing. Finally, we were coming from far in the Qualifying. On the last lap of Q1 I could save my Q2 and then we started well. We also finished well, I improved my best lap time by more than five tenths, so it’s a lot, plus we are not far from the pole position. Everyone is so fast, which complicates the job. Overall, I’m positive about this day and apart from the final position, the lap time was great. I need to find the pace and an easy feeling during Warm Up in order to be ready for the race tomorrow.”
Andrea Iannone – P9
“I think we worked well today, we improved from FP2. But we couldn’t find much more than yesterday, and we struggled a little bit with the settings. We need to improve just a little bit more in some areas. But in any case we’re not so far from the other riders. Everybody is really close and the second part of the race will be the most important for us tomorrow. I’m confident about tomorrow but in the other races we have struggled to stay with the top riders as the race goes on. We’ve worked well during the weekend so we’ll try our best and we’ll fight.”
That was also true of Italian and Catalan GP winner Jorge Lorenzo, who starts tenth after having been the early pacesetter. Less than four tenths off, the ‘Spartan’ will be looking for a lot more on Sunday and keen to make another lightning launch off the line.
Jorge Lorenzo – P10
“In general we did a good qualifying session because throughout the day we constantly managed to improve our lap times and to be honest I didn’t think we could have got our time down so much. Unfortunately my position on the grid is not good at all. I was surprised to see myself in tenth place because I thought I was further up, but then I noticed that almost all the other riders were towing each other in the group with Marquez and this helped them to improve their times a lot. I think that in a normal situation we could have been on the first or the second row, but in any case for the race we’re all pretty close and anything can happen, so it’ll be important to get a good start. We’re continuing to lose a few tenths in the final sector and so tomorrow we’ll try and resolve this problem during the warm-up.”
Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) took P11 and P12, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) taking top rookie honours in P13. Both he and fellow debutant Haifzh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who starts fifteenth, will be looking to gain some ground in the fight for Rookie of the Year – with current leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) missing the race and declared unfit after suffering a small fracture in his left hand.
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) will be two men keen to blast past that rookie battle as early as possible in the race – starting P16 and P18 respectively after a tough weekend for both so far.
Jack Miller – P16
“I expected more from these two days of practices. I couldn’t qualify for Q2 for less than a tenth of a second. The pace is still good and tomorrow I will try to do a good race. It’s clear that starting from 16th position will not be easy”.
Dani Pedrosa – P18
“Today was very difficult. I missed the passage to Q2 this morning and then in Q1 my pace wasn’t fast enough. In the afternoon I also struggled with the wind. My start position is clearly not good but we must try and stay positive for the race and tomorrow fight to recover. It will be important to make the right tyre choice and then get a good start.”
Assen MotoGP Qualifying Results
- Marc Marquez (SPA) HONDA 1’32.791
- Cal Crutchlow (GBR) HONDA +0.041
- Valentino Rossi (ITA) YAMAHA +0.059
Pecco’s perfect weekend continues, with Schroetter and Marini lining up alongside the Championship leader on the front row
After topping every Free Practice session at the Motul TT Assen, Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) set a 1:37.608 to win the battle for pole position, beating Marcel Schroetter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and his VR46 teammate Luca Marini by less than a tenth of a second.
Bagnaia set his quickest time on his third flying lap to sit top of the timesheets as the Red Flag came out after a fall for Niki Tuuli (SIC Racing Team), with the Finnish rider crashing heavily at Turn 5. After a short delay, this meant there would be a three-minute mad dash to see if anyone could top the Italian’s benchmark – but it wasn’t to be. After announcing he would be staying with the Dynavolt Intact GP team for another two years, it was Schroetter who remained in P2 to secure his third consecutive front row start., and Marini also held station in third, earning a terrific first front row start of his Grand Prix career with just 0.081 seconds covering the front row at Assen.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) crashed heavily at Turn 7 towards the end of the session, but the Spaniard was able to set a 1.37.717 to qualify fourth for Sunday’s race. Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) lines up alongside his compatriot in fifth place, with Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) the leading KTM in sixth.
Catalan GP pole man and race winner Fabio Quartararo (Lightech – Speed Up Racing) spearheads the third row in seventh after another solid session, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) impressing in eighth and Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) – despite a crash – in ninth.
Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was tenth on his Kalex machine, only 0.287 back from Bagnaia’s time, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) in 12th – his best qualifying session of the season.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – who sits one point behind Bagnaia in the Championship – will start 17th for the second race running, can the Portuguese rider reproduce his Barcelona start in the Netherlands? Alongside him is young Aussie Remy Gardner as he makes an encouraging return from injury.
Remy Gardner – P18
“It was a pretty hectic and crazy Qualifying. I made a good decision this morning to stick with an old tyre in FP3 and work with that. The new rubber this afternoon was a big step forward. I did my fastest lap in the beginning on my own, which is another positive. Then we tried to sort out some issues but lost a bit on track and in the end, we went back to what we had. But after the red flag there were just three minutes to go, it was pretty hectic and riders have been everywhere, so it was impossible to get a clean lap. I think I could have improved a tenth or so behind somebody in the slipstream. 18thon the grid is not really good, but we are only six tenths from the front, which is quite crazy. We got a strong rhythm for the race, so I think we can have a decent one.”
Less than a second splits Bagnaia to Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in 22nd.
Moto2 Qualifying Results
- Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX 1’37.608
- Marcel Schroetter (GER) KALEX +0.073
- Luca Marini (ITA) KALEX +0.081
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) will start Sunday’s lightweight class race from pole position for a record 14th time in his Moto3™ career, setting a 1:42.039 to beat Catalan GP winner Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) by 0.310 seconds.
Martin suffered a heavy fall in Friday’s FP2 session but bounced back in sublime fashion on Saturday to spearhead the Moto3 grid for the fifth time this season.
Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), meanwhile, rounds out the front row as his resurgent form continued, with the Italian taking his best qualifying of the year by some margin and his first top ten of the season.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was a solid fourth place in qualifying after being in and around the top three throughout the weekend. The Spaniard crashed at Turn 5 late in the session, but looks to have the pace to be right in the hunt on Sunday.
Joining him on the second row is Leopard Racing’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta, just 0.055 off Canet’s time, with John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) leaping up from P18 to sixth on his final lap of the session. Can the Scotsman go one better than he did in Barcelona, with Assen the venue that hosted his last podium finish?
Second place man in the Championship Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) qualified seventh, bouncing back after a crash in FP3 to get back in the mix. Just behind the Italian is compatriot and Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP), who starts eighth and was lucky to stay upright coming into the final chicane near the end of the session, almost hitting the back of his teammate Jakub Kornfeil.
Bester Capital Dubai’s Marcos Ramirez joins Championship protagonists Bezzecchi and Di Giannantonio on the third row of the grid, 0.725 off pole.
Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) crashed early in the session after running wide at Turn 9, with Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) almost destroying his KTM machine at Turn 7 after a huge crash early in the session but were both okay, Masaki just able to head back out for a shakedown at the end of the session.
Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Kornfeil, Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) will serve 12-place grid penalties for riding slowly in 3 or more sectors, with Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) starting from the back of the grid for the same, but repeated, offence.
Moto3 Qualifying Results
- Jorge Martin (SPA) HONDA 1:42.039
- Enea Bastianini (ITA) HONDA +0.310
- Nicolo Bulega (ITA) KTM +0.406