Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow scored his first-ever pole position after edging out Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez on the final lap at Assen today. No sooner had Marquez crossed the line and moved to the top with a 1’34.755 effort than Crutchlow sent cheers through the Tech 3 garage when he came in hot right after him with a 1’34.398. Crutchlow is the first British rider to claim a MotoGP pole since 2002.
“It feels fantastic to have finally got my first pole position in MotoGP. It might have been a different story if Jorge (Lorenzo) wasn’t injured but you can only beat the guys on track and I did that today. It would have been good to have a dogfight for pole position with Jorge because it was obvious before his crash that he was going to be the man to beat. Hopefully at some stage this year I’ll be having a battle with him for the win. It is a great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because it is not often a non-factory rider gets a pole position in MotoGP. The competition is incredibly tough but today we showed again that we can compete with the very best,” Crutchlow said in team PR.
While rain dusted the Holland track early in the day, by the time the final qualifying session took place Circuit van Drenthe was dry and times quickly dropped. There was a lot of jostling for the provisional pole, with Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista demonstrating speed early on with the best time in the morning free practice session. During the second qualifying session, Yamaha Factory rider Valentino Rossi looked strong and held provisional pole until a flurry of fast last laps. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl also enjoyed the top slot for a short period, as did both Repsol Honda riders. After competing for pole, Dani Pedrosa lowsided with about six minutes to go and rushed back to the pits like he was going to come back out on his back-up bike but decided against it. This would set the stage for Crutchlow’s late heroics.
Repsol rookie Marquez suffered a big highside during practice at Ramshoek, but walked away from the spill. It would later be revealed that Marquez had fractured the pinkie finger on his right hand and the big toe on his right foot.
Yamaha Factory rider Valentino Rossi has looked strong all weekend and will fight for a podium position from the fourth position on the grid.
Still, it didn’t prevent him from almost capturing pole as he will start tomorrow’s race from the second position.
It was a big day for LCR Honda’s Bradl who earned the first front row start of his MotoGP career. Bradl said it was a struggle for him early in the day, but after the final free practice session, adjustments to his suspension and his switch to Brembo brakes apparently paid off as he earned the final slot in tomorrow’s front row.
Yamaha Factory’s Rossi heads up the list of riders who make up Assen’s second row. Rossi has ridden well in both wet and dry conditions, finishing yesterday’s soggy second practice session with the second-fastest time.
“I’m happy for my speed, my pace and my performance in the practices. I feel good with the setting of the bike. It's a pity I didn't stay on the first row as I think I had the potential to do a little better and stay in the first three. Anyway, I’m fourth, the best qualifying of the season and especially I have a good pace, even after a lot of laps so I’m happy,” said Rossi in post-race PR.
Even though Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa didn’t come back out after his lowside, he still had done enough to earn the fifth spot on the grid. Tech 3’s second rider also gave his team something to cheer about after finishing with the sixth-fastest time of the day, doing so on his last lap. Smith did so despite the lingering effects of a wrist injury incurred at Mugello.
Power Electronic Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro put up the best qualifying effort ever by a CRT rider, fighting his way onto the third row with the seventh-best effort of the day. Espargaro actually sat atop the leader board during final qualifying, although his stint there was short-lived. His ART teammate, Randy DePuniet, also clawed his way into the top ten, grabbing the ninth position, with Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Bautista slotting between them.
Ducati Factory rider Nicky Hayden rounds out the top ten. Hayden fared better than Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso who had his worst outing since joining the MotoGP paddock and will start tomorrow’s race back in 14th.
Defending MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo underwent successful surgery in Barcelona last night and said he will be flying back to Assen immediately to be with his team this weekend.
2013 Assen TT Qualifying
1. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’34.398
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’34.755
3. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’34.878
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’34.974
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’35.006
6. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’35.454
7. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’35.500
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’35.508
9. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’35.622
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’35.908
11. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1’36.866
12. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’36.432
13. Hector Barbera (FTR) 1’36.490
14. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’36.524
15. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1’36.695