Britain’s Cal Crutchlow will start from his first ever pole position for Saturday’s Iveco TT Assen. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider will share the front row with Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo missed qualifying following his crash on Thursday.
A truly dramatic qualifying session for the 65th World Championship Dutch TT concluded with several riders grabbing provisional pole position, only to be demoted by their rivals just moments later. Rain had fallen earlier in the day but would not disrupt the grid-deciding period.
Cal Crutchlow: “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.”
Marc Marquez: “The session went pretty well. It was very important that we took part in qualifying and got this position on the grid, as before FP4 we did not expect to be on the front row. We were certainly not expecting second, because the pain in my finger was really affecting me. When I put my glove on it hurt a lot, as did my back – my foot wasn’t as bad, fortunately. I tried to stay focused on the bike, despite the bruises, and we managed to get a good time. Today we were able to ride a hot lap; tomorrow we will have to see how we manage over 26 laps.”
Stefan Bradl: “At the end of the session I was following the times on the TV screens and I saw that I was on pole …but I knew that some other riders were coming behind me. For a few minutes I was enjoying the position, then came Marquez and Crutchlow. But I am very pleased with this front row. It is my first in this class, and possibly also the first for a German rider. We’ve struggled with the weather but we found something good in the 30-minute break before final qualifying, and I could use the front tyre better and was able to push hard.”
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi, Bradl and Marquez all provisionally held the top spot before Crutchlow delivered the pole time of 1’34.398 to become the first British MotoGP pole-sitter since Jeremy McWilliams at Phillip Island in 2002. Behind him, Marquez qualifies in the top three for the first time since Le Mans and 2011 Moto2 title winner Bradl seals his first front row start in the premier class. Honda’s Dani Pedrosa had looked likely to collect his third consecutive pole, but crashed at De Bult with six and a half minutes remaining and would tumble to fifth.
Rossi qualifies fourth which is his best of the year so far, whereas Tech 3’s Bradley Smith will line up behind Pedrosa in sixth – his best grid position to date. The third row will be headed up by Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro who has further raised the bar as the best ever CRT qualifier. It was also a positive day for teammate Randy de Puniet, who was quickest in Q1 and will start ninth.
Australian grand prix rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) placed his Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike 19th, hoping that prior track knowledge (a rarity for the first-timer) will help to improve his position, after scoring his first World Championship points two weeks ago.
Bryan Staring: “I am happy because we have made some good progress from yesterday and have a decent starting position for the race tomorrow. Now I feel more confident with the bike … and the track, which at least I know my way around. It will be important to get a good start and stay consistent throughout the race if we are to fight with the guys in front of us tomorrow.”
Q1 was also full of surprises. Andrea Iannone crashed his Energy T.I. Pramac Racing machine when challenging for a place in the shootout, which leaves him 13th on the grid. Two places further back, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso could manage no more than 15th which is his worst grid position since joining the top class in 2008. The field is completed by Ivan Silva, back on the grid with Avintia Blusens as substitute to Hiroshi Aoyama who picked up hand injuries at the last round in Barcelona.
After the session, both Dovizioso and Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera were handed penalty points by Race Direction. The latter was adjudged to have deliberately blocked the former during Q1, but the Ducati rider was also handed a penalty point for kicking out at his rival – ‘an action prejudicial to the interests of the sport’.
Jorge Lorenzo returned to the Assen circuit at 6.15pm today to be reunited with his team. The World Champion flew directly from Barcelona following surgery last night to repair a broken left collarbone sustained in Thursday’s second free practice.
Lorenzo is in positive mood following the operation but is understandably tired after an exhaustive day so will now rest before attending a medical check tomorrow morning to be cleared for the MotoGP Warm Up session. Should he be cleared to ride he will then attend a further medical check following the session along with a team consultation before making a decision on whether to participate in the afternoon’s race.
A further update will be released following tomorrow morning’s medical check to confirm Lorenzo’s participation in the MotoGP Warm Up session.
Qualifying Practice Classification
1. Cal Crutchlow 1’34.398 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
2. Marc Marquez 1’34.755 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3. Stefan Bradl 1’34.878 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
4. Valentino Rossi 1’34.974 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5. Dani Pedrosa 1’35.006 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6. Bradley Smith 1’35.454 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7. Aleix Espargaro 1’35.500 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspa
8. Alvaro Bautista 1’35.508 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
9. Randy De Puniet 1’35.622 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
10.Nicky Hayden 1’35.908 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
11. Michele Pirro 1’36.866 ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
12. Jorge Lorenzo 1’35.263 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
13. Andrea Iannone 1’36.432 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
14. Hector Barbera 1’36.490 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
15. Andrea Dovizioso 1’36.524 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
16. Danilo Petrucci 1’36.695 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
17. Karel Abraham 1’36.791 CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
18. Colin Edwards 1’37.143 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
19. Bryan Staring 1’37.315 AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
20. Claudio Corti 1’37.625 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
21.Yonny Hernandez 1’37.781 COL PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
22. Michael Laverty 1’38.378 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
23. Lukas Pesek 1’38.704 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
24. Ivan Silva 1’39.077 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens