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Stoner sets Assen pace


-- Stoner sets Assen pace

The MotoGP™ field was greeted with difficult weather conditions on a day that saw all three classes battle it out in qualifying for top grid positions for tomorrow’s Iveco TT Assen race. It was the MotoGP premier-class qualifying practice that provided the most drama, in a session that was interrupted by spells of rain, as Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner snatched a last-grasp pole position for ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.

After numerous breaks due to showers, the sun reappeared in the final few minutes to allow Stoner, who crashed heavily in the morning practice, to put in a scorching lap in the high 1.33’s to oust Pedrosa into second on the grid. Rounding out the front row is Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo, who could not match the Hondas’ pace, and seemed to be struggling with the last sector of the track.

The story of the afternoon was however LCR Honda MotoGP’s rookie Stefan Bradl, who heads the second row in fourth, after putting in his best qualifying display in the premier-class. Alongside him in fifth is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who again seems to not be feeling the effects of his fractured left ankle. Sixth place is occupied by yesterday’s pace-setter Ben Spies, on board his factory Yamaha, who will be looking to rediscover some of his earlier form for the race tomorrow.

Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso leads the third row in seventh as the last Yamaha on the grid, after failing to improve in the final few minutes of the session. To his right, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista starts in eighth, after he crashed out on his satellite Honda on the final hot lap.

Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden qualified in ninth, in front of teammate Valentino Rossi, rounding out a disappointing qualifying session for the Italian outfit. Rossi stated afterwards that he’s looking to make a quick start tomorrow, as the team is still unsure about rear tyre life on the Desmosedici. Top CRT performer was Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, who put his ART machine in 12th place.

1 Casey Stoner 1'33.713 AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Dani Pedrosa 1'33.828 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Jorge Lorenzo 1'34.001 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
4 Stefan Bradl 1'34.035 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
5 Cal Crutchlow 1'34.486 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Ben Spies 1'34.644 USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
7 Andrea Dovizioso 1'34.698 ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Alvaro Bautista 1'34.722 SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
9 Nicky Hayden 1'34.751 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Valentino Rossi 1'35.057 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
11 Hector Barbera 1'35.289 SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
12 Randy De Puniet 1'35.830 FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Aleix Espargaro 1'36.007 ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
14 Michelle Pirro 1'36.647 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
15 Mattia Pasini 1'36.943 ITA ART Speed Master
16 Danilo Petrucci 1'36.967 ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
17 Karel Abraham 1'37.110 CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
18 Yonny Hernandez 1'37.191 COL BQR-FTR BQR
19 James Ellison 1'37.281 GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
20 Ivan Silva 1'37.554 SPA BQR-FTR BQR
21 Colin Edwards 1'38.305 USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing

During an incident-packed qualifying at the Iveco TT Assen in the Moto2™ class, it was Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez who took pole position in front of Pol Espargaró and Andrea Iannone.

Márquez, who had played second fiddle to Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Espargaró for all of the preceding practices, pulled a lap of 1.37’133 out of the bag to snatch pole, despite ending up in the gravel at the end of the session. Espargaró finished just over four-tenths behind his rival, yet managed to keep Speed Master’s Iannone at bay a further three and a half tenths down.

GP Team Switzerland’s Randy Krummenacher nearly caused a front-row upset, yet had to settle for a very credible fourth instead. Compatriot Dominique Aegerter, on board his Technomag-CIP machine, lines up next to him in fifth, after finding some impressive form at the Dutch track. Completing the second row is Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi with his FTR bike, as he looks to get onto the podium for the first time this season.

Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding had a disappointing qualifying for his standards, ending down in seventh, ahead of Tech 3 Racing’s fellow countryman Bradley Smith on his Mistral 610. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis made it two FTR bikes in the top ten with a solid display, ahead of Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi, who will no doubt look to improve in tomorrow’s race.

There was drama early on as QMMF Racing Team teammates Elena Rosell and Anthony West crashed, as the female Spanish rider tried to avoid West as he slid off track. Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón following suit shortly after, and with 35 minutes left of the session, JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco had his second crash of the day, with Italtrans Racing Team’s Claudio Corti and Kiefer Racing’s Max Neukirchner also crashing out in the latter stages of qualifying. None of the riders were seriously hurt in the incidents.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese will start tomorrow’s Iveco TT Assen Moto3™ race from pole position after setting the quickest time this afternoon in front of teammate Danny Kent and Niccolò Antonelli.

With a time of 1.43’645, Cortese threw down the gauntlet for the forthcoming race, relegating Kent into second place, who recorded the first ever front row start in his Grand Prix career. San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Antonelli was another rider to get his first ever front row start in his rookie year, after having shown great pace all weekend.

Fourth spot went to Bankia Aspar’s Héctor Faubel, who started the session slowly, yet came into his stride towards the end. Lining up next to him in fifth is TT Motion Events Racing’s Niklas Ajo, who has looked resurgent ever since arriving at the Dutch circuit. Sixth place is occupied by Blusens Avintia’s championship leader Maverick Viñales, who was unable to add to his string of pole-positions this season.

Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou starts tomorrow’s race from seventh, after putting in yet another solid performance in the afternoon session. Alongside him in eighth is Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira, in front of Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil in ninth, who was running close to the top in the early stages. RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom completes the top ten, and will be hoping to resolve some set-up issues, which hindered his qualifying slightly.

IodaRacing Project’s Jonas Folger was unable to go head out in this afternoon’s qualifying session as his team was unable to fix a mechanical issue that kept him out of the morning’s practice as well. JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez suffered a heavy crash 15 minutes before the end, yet managed to regroup and head out for the final few minutes, ending up in 24th.

-- HRC Report

Riding just hours after one of the worst crashes of his world championship-winning career, Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) secured one of his most dramatic pole positions with a stunning lap in the dying minutes of the dry-wet-dry qualifying session for Saturday’s Dutch TT on the historic Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) will start the race next to Stoner on the front row after qualifying second.

It was a frustrating session for the riders, most of whom spent significant time in the pits during repeated small showers. Stoner was down in ninth when the track was dry for the final time with about six minutes to go in the hour. He had had a heavy crash in the morning and was still trying to find a solution for the front end chatter that has bedeviled the team all year. The reigning world champion had spent qualifying making the most of the limited dry track time on the harder option rear tyre, but with so little time remaining Stoner had no choice but to fit the soft option to improve his grid position for Saturday’s seventh round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Following his out lap on the now dry track it was clear he was on a mission. With his first flying lap he was up to third and on his next he put the pole out of reach. Because of a slight reconfiguration of the 4542m circuit, Stoner’s lap of 1m, 33.713s goes into the record books as the fastest.

The pole was the 38th of Stoner’s MotoGP career and third this season after Estoril and Catalunya.

Pedrosa had set the fastest time of the session 11m, 39s into the hour. Had the conditions remained mixed, Pedrosa would have taken the pole. But in the final few minutes it was Stoner setting the fast time; that left Pedrosa second to his team-mate by .115s.

What was encouraging for Pedrosa was that he had two extended runs when the track was dry, both consistently in the 1m, 34s range that should be enough to keep him at the front of the race pack.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) shattered his previous best qualifying mark with a sterling effort in difficult conditions. In his first MotoGP season, the 2011 Moto2 World Champion had qualified a season best eighth in the Catalunya GP. But with his final lap he knocked more than .6s off his previous best to leap up to fourth, and nearly onto the front row: He missed out by a scant .034s.

Like Pedrosa, Bradl’s race pace was encouraging during the limited dry track time, which is important in Assen where Bradl’s German fans will pack the circuit.

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista was on his last lap when he crashed after pushing the front in the final minutes of the session. He was in eighth at the time, where he would finish, though he had been up to fifth when rain interrupted the proceedings around mid-session. Without the crash, the Spaniard was confident he would have been further up the grid.

Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was 14th and third fastest of the CRT bikes. Pirro never got the chance to show his best with only eight laps at speed during the weather-compromised session.

Moto2 championship leader Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya CaixaRepsol – Suter) raced to his fifth pole of the season, then fell while trying to better his time with his final lap. There was little need. The young Spaniard finished with a lap of 1m, 37.133s, which was .455s faster than title rival Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex), his fellow Spaniard who will sit next to him on the front row. Espargaro was on the pole at the previous British Grand Prix.

Marquez had also fallen in the morning, though he was fortunate not to be hurt in either spill. The world championship leader carries a six point lead over Espargaro and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock – Suter), the Swiss rider who qualified tenth, into Saturday’s race.

Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) was third fastest and on the front row for the third time this season. Iannone was able to move through the field after reducing tyre chatter while improving tyre life.

Niccolo Antonelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) pleasantly surprised his team with a standout qualifying effort. The Moto3 first year rider, and second youngest rider in grand prix racing, had never qualified better than tenth before today. But on a 31 degree C track, the 16-year-old earned his first front row start by qualifying third.

Championship leader Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR-Honda) qualified sixth fastest, but only .533s off pole. Vinales often wins from the front and wanted to do his time without the benefit of a slipstream. His pace overall gave him confidence of enhancing his championship lead on Saturday.

Alexis Masbou (Caretta Technology – Honda) qualified .095s behind Vinales on the row three pole. With 17 riders on the same second, it was hard for the Frenchman to get a clean lap, though with so much traffic he was not able to get into a good rhythm.

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: Pole position, 1m, 33.713s “This morning was probably one of my biggest crashes, which is saying something! The crash really knocked the wind out of me. I hurt my head, neck, wrist, knee and shoulder; it was a bad one for sure. The shoulder isn't too bad. In some of the faster corners it's tricky, but my knee is the worst on the change of direction in the chicane and a few other places. The team did a really great job, they kept their heads down even when I wasn't riding to my full potential or the bike's full potential and when we were struggling to get the rear tyre to work, they didn't give up. Then when we came back onto the soft rear tyre for the first time since FP1, the bike had much more feeling and we were able to put together a fantastic lap and put it on pole. As far as race pace goes, we're still struggling and we need to work on this and make some decisions before the race. It's been a really strange day for us, but hopefully we can be competitive tomorrow.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd, 1m, 33.828s “We did a very good job in all the practice sessions and I'm happy with qualifying, even though I missed the pole position at the very end. The target was to be on the front row because the first corner here is very close and tight, and to work hard to get a good race pace, I think we did everything well. We improved the feeling with the front tyre a little and I'm really looking forward to confirm this in the race tomorrow. The times are very close again, but the key point will be the race pace. I feel good, the bike is working well and we just need to make the correct tyre choice, because the weather can be uncertain like it was in Silverstone. It looks like the soft tyre gives you a lot of potential, but for the race distance we are not 100% sure, especially on the left side which is softer. Here it is important to have good stability out of the corner and with the hard compound you get it, so we will need to wait and see what the conditions are like tomorrow and do the best in the race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 4th, 1m, 34.035s “Finally we put the things together and we had a very good qualifying, a very good lap time and a very good placement on the starting grid for tomorrow. I was not expecting this result because yesterday we were struggling a lot, but we remained concentrated: basically we did not give up and the great result finally arrived and the team demonstrated a strong character. We have found a good balance for the bike using a perfect strategy and it was not easy because the weather was pretty unstable. This is our real potential and now I must learn to repeat this in the future.”

Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 8th, 1m, 34.722s “It was a shame about the crash because we did such a good job this morning and our pace was strong. This afternoon the rain came first, which set us back, and then when I went back out and tried to push I lost the front and crashed, which cost me a lot of grid positions. The good thing is we are fast and our rhythm is good so we just have to try and get a good start, make up positions as quickly as possible and not lose contact with the front guys.”

Michel Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 14th, 1m, 36.647s “We lost half of the session to the rain this afternoon and that didn't help us, but we have closed the gap a little to the two best CRT bikes and this is positive. Obviously we still have some things to do, especially to solve a bad vibration, but I'm sure the team can help resolve it tomorrow and put me in a position to be fighting to be the top CRT.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter: Pole position, 1m, 37.133s “I feel fine physically. We know why we crashed in practice and we corrected it for qualifying. I was pushing a little bit harder on the slowest corner in the afternoon, because I knew that a crash wouldn't matter too much. I lost control and I was spat off the bike, but we still have a good setting for tomorrow's race. Our pace is good and I have a lot of confidence on the bike. We knew that we were fine, and that we weren't as far off as it looked, so we just focused on our job. As always, the work carried out on the first two days was focused on preparing for the race, and in qualifying we went with the best solutions to try and get a hot lap in. The important thing is that we are on pole and are not suffering like at Silverstone. We are very prepared to fight for the win.”

Pol Espargaro, Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex: 2nd, 1m, 37.588s “We have a very good pace and we are working in an incredible way, so I'm happy and confident for the race. Marc (Marquez) and I were the only ones capable of doing several times at 1m, 37s, but Andrea Iannone is usually there in practice, and I'm sure tomorrow he will be at the front and fighting for victory, which could be like the surprise of Scott Redding at Silverstone. The pole position is always a joy, but the important thing is to be in the first row and starting well. Sure, the race will be hard and complicated and we will try to do our best to get the win, or at least return to the podium.”

Andrea Iannone, Speed Master – Speed Up: 3rd, 1m, 37.956s “This first row is really important. It wasn’t a very easy day, we had to deal with some chatter, but with the guys we tried out some solutions that are helping us little by little. The race tomorrow is going to be a tough one. Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaró are very fast and it’s going to be quite a battle. Today’s result is a good one; we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Moto3 Rider Quotes

Niccolo Antonelli, San Carlo Gresini Moto3 - FTR Honda: 3rd, 1m, 43.988s “I can finally say I am happy because this is an excellent result with a bike that is improving at every race. The weekend has started well, we've been fast in every session and this afternoon I was able to meet my target of qualifying inside the top five. I had fun out there although it was tough to set the time on the final lap because there was so much traffic out there. That makes it so much more special because I had to get past a bunch of riders and it give me confidence for what I hope will be a good race for tomorrow.”

Maverick Vinales, Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda: 6th, 1m, 44.178s “We wanted to go at our own pace and ride solo, and because this is a difficult track and we used no slipstreams, we missed out on pole. Today the important thing was to find a good pace for tomorrow, and I think that we are riding well. We have to improve the engine, but the chassis is working well.”

Alexis Masbou, Caretta Technology – Honda: 7th, 1m, 44.273s “We have to work hard. The time on the lap is good, but I am not able to have this rhythm for all the race. I hope to do well tomorrow.”

-- Yamaha Report

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo took third today in qualifying for tomorrow’s Assen TT race. The famous Dutch weather proved to be the biggest challenge for all riders with rain intermittently halting the session and frustrating attempts to string together a series of hot laps. The sun came out to provide a final six-minute flurry of activity with Casey Stoner setting the provisional pole time. Lorenzo then responded, taking red through the first three splits but making a small mistake on the final chicane to end up in third on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Having wrapped up day one as the fastest rider Texan Ben Spies was again ready to deliver in qualifying. Having worked through different set up solutions Spies was on pace for a front row position until running into slower CRT traffic on his hot lap. As a result he starts from the second row of the grid in sixth position.

Jorge Lorenzo / Position 3rd - Time: 1'34.001 - Laps 20

“I tried my best in the last lap of qualifying but I made a little mistake in the last chicane on braking and lost a few tenths. I was surprised at Casey’s last lap; it was fantastic and so fast and Dani was also very close to him. We have a good position for tomorrow on the front row and we have a good race pace and I’m confident with the bike so I’m happy. Qualifying is one thing but the race is another, tyre choice will be important for the race.”

Ben Spies / Position 6th - Time: 1'34.644 - Laps 16
"Qualifying was a frustrating experience. We tried a setting this morning and went backwards so the first bit of qualifying we tried a modified setting from yesterday which again wasn’t working so well. We went back to yesterday’s set up with a minor change but only got one lap in, which turned out to be my fastest lap. Unfortunately one of the CRT bikes got in the way on my qualifying lap. I know they are out there trying to do their thing as well so it’s difficult.”

Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A very Dutch qualification I would say, having to stop the practice because of the constant weather changes. Finally the last ten minutes were exciting and Jorge managed two hot laps. I think we are happy to be on the front row, Jorge’s first three splits were very good then he missed the last one otherwise he would have been pole. Race rhythm is very good so we are confident for tomorrow.”

Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“The rain didn’t help so much today. Ben was on form for a best lap until T9 when he caught a slower CRT rider who closed the door on him and he lost his lap. I think he could have had a better position but in the end second row is not so bad. He’s had good starts in the last races so we expect the same tomorrow. The pace is good, bike set up is good and we don’t have any doubts about the tyres. Jorge showed a good pace with both soft and hard tyres so he will be there in the fight for victory.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso will start tomorrow's historic Dutch TT from inside the top seven after a rain disrupted qualifying session at Assen this afternoon.

Less than 15 minutes of the session had elapsed when a short cloudburst forced Crutchlow and Dovizioso into the pits when they were lying eighth and third respectively on the timesheets.

The track quickly dried and after a 10-minute delay, Crutchlow and Dovizioso were able to resume their preparations for tomorrow's 26-lap race.

Both were just about to start switching to Bridgestone's soft tyre to push for a fast lap time when a second rain shower hit with 20 minutes remaining and forced them back into the pits once again.

Six minutes remained when the rapidly changing conditions suddenly improved and grey and gloomy skies gave way to glorious sunshine and Crutchlow and Dovizioso were able to attack for three laps on slick tyres.

Continuing to ride in considerable discomfort with the broken left ankle he suffered in practice for his home round at Silverstone 13 days ago, Crutchlow produced a stunning final lap of 1.34.486 to finish fifth quickest.

Crutchlow's brilliant last lap attack continued his impressive qualifying record in 2012 and he will start tomorrow's race from inside the top five for the sixth time in seven races. The 26-year-old is confident he can maintain his grip on fourth place in the World Championship standings.

Changes to the set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine gave Dovizioso the front-end confidence and feedback he lacked yesterday and a lap of 1.34.698 secured him seventh position on the grid.

Dovizioso was as high as third in the early part of the session prior to the rain interruptions but he was unable to improve his lap time in a frenetic finale to the session. The Italian's pace in race trim though has boosted his confidence that he will be battling for the rostrum for the fourth race in succession.

Cal Crutchlow / Position 5th - Time: 1'34.486 - Laps 17
“I'm happy on one side because to be fifth fastest and on the second row is a good result considering my physical condition and how much pain I have from the left ankle. But I'm upset a little bit too because I'm sure I could have been into the 33s and on the front row, but (Hector) Barbera got in my way on my final lap and cost me some crucial tenths. He was looking for a tow again to improve his lap time like he always does and unfortunately it was me that got caught up with him this time. All week though I have been consistently in the top five and my aim was to be in the top six, so I am not doing badly. We'll make a decision on which tyre to use tomorrow but we have a little bit of work to do on stopping the bike in a few areas, but we have some ideas to make it better. It will be a tough race with the ankle injury and fighting with Jorge (Lorenzo) is going to be incredibly difficult. He's got an amazing pace but I am doing the best job I can and will be looking to finish in the top six.”

Andrea Dovizioso / Position 7th - Time: 1'34.698 - Laps 17
“It is a pity to be starting on the third row of the grid because I am sure my potential is much higher. It was a very tricky session with the weather conditions changing a lot, but I am really happy to have done a 34.7 on the hard tyre. We have made some big steps improving my feeling with the front-end of the bike and I am satisfied with my race pace. I am sure I will be able to fight for the podium. I was on the third row at Silverstone but still came through to battle for the podium and that is a realistic goal tomorrow. In the final minutes when I went out on the new rear tyre, I didn't feel ready to push right at the limit. Going into the first corner I locked the rear wheel and lost some time and because I wasn't sure if I had warmed the rear tyre up enough, I decided not to take any big risks. I am sure I could have been higher up the grid but I am confident for the race and my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew have done a fantastic job again improving the bike in every session.”

-- Ducati Report

Following a good start to the Dutch TT weekend in yesterday’s free practice sessions, the Ducati Team experienced a relatively challenging qualifying session today.

On a day marked by shifting weather conditions, with rain periodically interrupting the track time, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi both slightly improved their lap times from yesterday, but not by as much as they would have liked. Tomorrow, Hayden and Rossi will start from the ninth and tenth spots on the grid, respectively.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 9th (1:34.751)
“The weather was obviously very strange, but that’s something everybody has to deal with. During the first exit, I did a 34.9 with the hard tyre, and as I was fourth at the time, I thought maybe we could do something good today. Then the rain came and I lost the feeling a little bit. In the last exit, with a soft tyre, I managed to improve by a couple of tenths, but it clearly wasn’t enough. I’m not happy. I can’t say I left a lot out there, but even a tenth would have moved me up a couple of spots. With the group in front of me going fast and consistent, 26 laps around here definitely won’t be easy, but we’ll try to understand something and see what tomorrow brings.”

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 10th (1:35.057)
“Today obviously didn’t go as well as yesterday. Unfortunately, we tried to make a few adjustments in an effort to get the tyre to slide less, but as soon as we load the rear a bit, the bike becomes difficult to ride because I lose a lot of grip on the front. We tried it this morning and a little in the afternoon, but in the end we returned to yesterday’s settings. We were also a bit unlucky with the weather, as I had three soft tyres to use in qualifying, but because of the various rain breaks, I was only able to use one. With this setup, maybe I can be a bit more competitive in the first part of the race, but then we’ll have to see what pace we’re able to do when the tyres start sliding a lot.”

-- Red Bull Rookies

Excitement from start to finish as usual in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race with Florian Alt winning Race 1 at the Dutch TT from fellow 16 year old German Philipp Oettl. Portuguese 15 year old Ivo Lopes flashed across the Assen finish line in 3rd just ahead of a pack containing Joe Roberts, Scott Deroue, Karel Hanika etc., the top ten covered by just over 1 second after 16 laps and almost 30 minutes of racing.

Alt was ecstatic, Oettl stone-faced but all should have been well pleased with another thrilling spectacle. The only man who had the right to be really downcast was Lorenzo Baldassarri the 15 year old Italian and 2011 Cup Champion who high-sided out of the lead pack and sustained a dislocated shoulder.

“It was a lot of fun,” exclaimed Alt. “I had a pretty good start and could run at the front with the others. Through the middle of the race I was pushed back a bit but I fought back to the front to race with Philipp and the others. I knew he was fast and he's very good at getting speed out of the bike. Onto the last lap I was leading but I expected him to come past out of the slipstream on the straight. I knew I still had a chance and I was full on the gas very late into the last left hander to pass him and then held the inside into the final chicane.”

Oettl explained that the lead-from-the-front tactic that had held off everyone through the last lap at Silverstone had not worked this time. “For me 2nd is pretty much a disaster, I tried to do the same and just do the perfect last lap but this time it wasn't good enough. I didn't get off the line so well, that was my fault but then the first laps were good and I managed to get with the lead group and from there it was a very close race. I have to say that 20 points for 2nd is important for the championship. I just have to get across the line first next time,” asserted the Cup leader who has a 1 point advantage over Alt going into the 8th race of the 15 for the year on Saturday. He starts again from 11th on the grid.

Lopes always seems to enjoy his racing and was thrilled to be at the front in another great battle. “That was a lot of fun. I had to work hard to get to the front and at one point I think I got pushed back to about 6th or so, so I had to fight forward again, full gas all the way. On the last lap coming down to the chicane I was late on the brakes, got through to 2nd but messed up the corner a bit and Philipp got me on the line.”

American 15 year old Roberts qualified 14th so knew that he had his work cut out coming off the 5th row. “Going into the race I knew I had to be aggressive to be with the lead group.... and I guess it worked. I made a couple of mistakes mid-race through turns 1 and 5 and got off in the astroturf and I think those cost me a place on the podium. Through the last lap I just pushed as hard as I could and I got 4th.”

Injured from a scooter crash on Tuesday and in some pain from his scabbed elbows, knees and hands, 16 year old Dutchman Deroue nevertheless put on a great show in front of his home crowd. The double Estoril winner was in the heart of the lead pack until Baldassarri fell. “When he high-sided I had to go wide to miss him and lost a lot of ground. I was lucky because Brad Ray was with me and he's a fast rider so we could fight back to the group. We just managed to get there for the last lap and so I could get 5th. Not bad because especially on left hand corners or tucking in for the straight I've got a lot of pain.”

Disappointed with 6th was Hanika but the 16 year old Czech had a great race from pole. He did a lot of leading and was always in the picture, his race was almost perfect but not quite. “In the chicane on the last lap I made a mistake, went down only to 3rd instead of 2nd and lost all the drive coming out,” he explained and the pain on his face was clear as the double pole man with 3 podiums already in his first Rookies season still awaits his first win.

-- Bridgestone Report

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium-Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry/Wet. Ambient 23-24°C; Track 30-31°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner set a scorching lap time of 1:33.713 right at the end of a rain-interrupted qualifying session to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Dutch TT at Assen.

Intermittent showers caused delays throughout qualifying, but as the track dried out with five minutes remaining it was reigning champion Stoner who emerged fastest to finish 0.115 seconds ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa to secure a Repsol Honda 1-2 on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo qualified third as he hunts for a fourth consecutive MotoGP™ victory, while top CRT qualifier was Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet who will start on the fourth row in 12th position.

This morning’s FP3 session was also subject to spells of rainy weather, though there was still enough dry running today to allow teams to further refine their dry setup for tomorrow’s race. The high corner speeds at Assen mean almost every rider this weekend has preferred the greater stability of the harder front slick, though rear slick choice has been varied with some riders favouring the better edge grip of the softer rear option over the greater durability of the harder rear.

The riders will be back on track for morning warm up at 0940 local time tomorrow (GMT +2) with the lights going out for the race at 1400.

Shinichi Yamashita – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“That was quite an exciting qualifying session and just like we saw yesterday the pace at the front of the field is very close so we may be in for a thrilling contest tomorrow. The rain did arrive today as expected, but thankfully the track dried quickly and the good warm-up performance of our 2012 specification slicks allowed riders to head out in the last five minutes of qualifying and set some stunning lap times.

“The combination of the softer rear with the harder front slick provided the best combination of rear grip and front stability to set quick lap times for qualifying, though for tomorrow’s race I expect the field to be split fairly evenly between the softer and harder rear slicks matched with the harder front.”

MotoGP Rnd Six Race Results MotoGP Championship

1 Jorge Lorenzo 41'16.429 SPA YAMAHA
2 Casey Stoner +3.313 AUS HONDA
3 Dani Pedrosa +3.599 SPA HONDA
4 Alvaro Bautista +5.196 SPA HONDA
5 Ben Spies +11.531 USA YAMAHA
6 Cal Crutchlow +15.112 GBR YAMAHA
7 Nicky Hayden +15.527 USA DUCATI
8 Stefan Bradl +22.521 GER HONDA
9 Valentino Rossi +36.138 ITA DUCATI
10 Hector Barbera +41.328 SPA DUCATI
11 Aleix Espargaro +1'03.157 ESP ART
12 Randy De Puniet +1'03.443 FRA ART
13 Michelle Pirro +1'07.290 ITA HONDA
14 James Ellison +1'14.782 GBR ART
15 Yonny Hernandez +1'15.108 COL BQR-FTR
16 Colin Edwards +1'29.899 USA SUTER
17 Danilo Petrucci +1'40.302 ITA IODA
18 Ivan Silva +1'52.099 SPA BQR-FTR
19 Andrea Dovizioso +1 lap ITA YAMAHA
20 Mattia Pasini DNF ITA ART
21 Karel Abraham DNS CZE DUCATI

1 Jorge Lorenzo 140 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
2 Casey Stoner 115 pts AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Dani Pedrosa 101 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Cal Crutchlow 66 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Andrea Dovizioso 60 pts ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Valentino Rossi 58 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Alvaro Bautista 58 pts SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
8 Stefan Bradl 51 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
9 Nicky Hayden 49 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Hector Barbera 37 pts SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
11 Ben Spies 35 pts USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
12 Aleix Espargaro 20 pts ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Randy De Puniet 11 pts FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
14 Michelle Pirro 9 pts ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
15 James Ellison 7 pts GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
16 Mattia Pasini 6 pts ITA ART Speed Master
17 Danilo Petrucci 4 pts ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
18 Yonny Hernandez 4 pts COL BQR-FTR BQR
19 Colin Edwards 4 pts USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing
20 Karel Abraham 4 pts CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
21 Ivan Silva 1 pts SPA BQR-FTR BQR