Valentino Rossi can make it 100 career GP victories with a win tomorrow at Assen. Topping the timesheets in today’s qualifying session should help The Doctor in his quest for the milestone.
The Doctor is in the house. Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi laid down a 1’36.025 lap on his way to the top of the Dutch TT timesheets today, claiming his second pole of the season. It gives Rossi a prime opportunity to not only notch his 100th Grand Prix victory but also to break the three-way tie in the Championship Points race.
“I’m so happy about the qualifying session. This morning we worked a lot on the bike and this afternoon we put it all together,” said Rossi.
This time Rossi didn’t back into pole. His other pole in Motegi was awarded based on combined practice times after rain washed out qualifying. Today, the Fiat Yamaha rider earned it outright.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa joins Rossi on the front row of tomorrow’s MotoGP grid after putting up the second-fastest time. The Spanish rider hasn’t seen the top step of the podium in a year, but is known to jump out quick and sign off early, so his front row start gives him a solid chance to break his winless streak.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa on the top step of the podium. Will tomorrow be the day the speedy Spaniard breaks the spell?
“It’s always good to be on the front row, because then you have the best chance to make a clean getaway, so I’m satisfied with second. I was lucky at the end of the session to have Valentino in front and being behind him helped me a lot to set this lap time,” said Pedrosa.
The final slot on the front row belongs to Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The speedy Spaniard is the only rider who has started every MotoGP race this season from the front row. Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner had his streak of front row starts ended today by Lorenzo. Stoner complained about being held up by slower riders while trying to qualify. The Aussie still finished fourth-fastest and heads up the list of second row contenders.
Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards actually led the session for a small window of time before the Rossi freight train came rolling by. The Texas Tornado will start from the fifth position, and will be joined on the second row by another cagy veteran, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi.
“Second row is not too bad and we will have to see what sort of start we get and try to keep with the front pack. I am quite optimistic for tomorrow because if we make the small step we are looking for we will be right up there challenging!” Capirossi said.
Capi’s Rizla Suzuki teammate, Chris Vermeulen, crossed the line just off of the pace in seventh place. Joining the young Australian on the third row is Andrea Dovizioso. Today’s eighth-place finishing equaled Dovi’s worst qualifying position of the 2009 MotoGP season, a fact not overlooked by the Repsol Honda rider in post-qualifying press conferences.
The last slot on the third row belongs to Yamaha Tech 3’s James Toseland. The British rider has only tallied 29 points
Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso has gotten accustomed to running near the front of the pack, but will have his work cut out for him tomorrow after qualifying in eighth.
in the World Championship standings and just hasn’t flashed the brilliance he displayed in World Superbike yet in MotoGP.
LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet, who enjoyed a day in the limelight yesterday after topping the practice timesheet, crashed in the morning free practice and struggled with rear grip for much of the qualifying session but managed to grab the last spot in Assen’s top ten.
Niccolò Canepa crashed during the session but the Pramac Racing rookie was reportedly uninjured.
MotoGP Assen Qualifying –
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’36.025
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.085
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.368
4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.608
5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +0.735
6. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) +0.928:
7. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) +1.169:
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +1.212
9. James Toseland (Yamaha) +1.298
10. Randy De Puniet (Honda) +1.448
11. Alex De Angelis (Honda) +1.612
12. Mika Kallio (Ducati) +1.724
13. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +1.734
14. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) +1.923
15. Toni Elias (Honda) +2.111
16. Sete Gibernau +2.428
17. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +2.580
18. Yuki Takahashi (Honda) +2.594
19. G. Talmacsi (Honda) +3.382