Valentino Rossi, who is looking for his 100th career victory tomorrow, took his second pole position of the season in the Netherlands today with a commanding display at the Assen TT circuit. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo filled the third grid spot after just missing out with his final flying lap. Dani Pedrosa will start from second whilst Casey Stoner, who is joint championship leader along with Rossi and Lorenzo, will head the second row. It is the fourth double front row for the Fiat Yamaha Team this season.
After yesterday’s bright sunshine today was overcast and cooler but it stayed dry and both riders had a useful morning practice, with Lorenzo running out on top and Rossi fourth. This afternoon’s qualifying saw the usual continuation of set-up work throughout the early stages before Rossi moved into pole with ten minutes to go, with Lorenzo second. The pair swapped positions once more before the Italian set his pole-clinching lap of 1’36.025 to retake pole with four minutes to go. Lorenzo was up on his team-mate’s time on his final flying lap but he dropped a few tenths on the last sector and finished the session 0.368 seconds adrift.
Rossi’s other pole of 2009 came at Motegi, when grid positions were in fact decided on free practice after qualifying was rained off. The World Champion’s last ‘proper’ pole was therefore at Indianapolis last year, on his way to a famous inaugural victory at the American track. Lorenzo meanwhile has qualified on the front row for all seven rounds so far this season.
Tomorrow’s 26-lap race begins at 1400 local time but with rain forecast the weather could prove a factor in the day’s proceedings once again.
1st – Valentino Rossi Speaks… (1’35.025 Laps: 29)
"This is a really good pole position because I’ve only had one other this season, at Motegi in strange conditions. I had a lot of traffic around me in the last few minutes so I had to be careful to judge exactly the right point to push, but I got it right and I was really happy with my great lap at the end. I feel good and I am very strong with the Bridgestone race tyres but it’s going to be a hard race because the others are also very fast. We still have two or three points on the track where we could improve our performance a bit more so we still have a bit of work to do, but I am confident that we can make another great race. Of course we don’t know about the weather, but this is normal for Assen and we will just have to manage!"
3rd – Jorge Lorenzo Speaks… (1’36.393 Laps: 31)
"I’m happy with the first row, another one for this season, and this is the most important thing with regards to the start of the race tomorrow. Of course I wanted my fourth pole position but I had some problems in the last sector; I’m not sure why yet. We need to continue working to try to improve in that area and to understand the problem, because the race is going to be very hard with quite a few riders up front. We don’t know what the weather will be and so we will have to wait and see until warm-up tomorrow morning."
Davide Brivio Speaks… (Team Manager)
"Our target is always the front row so to get pole position is the best we can do! This was a good session because we had a strong pace throughout and Valentino is feeling comfortable on the bike. We’re looking forward to tomorrow but of course we are a bit worried about the weather. We have a few small things to fine-tune and then we will hope for a good start, like in Barcelona, and another exciting race."
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks… (Team Manager)
"We’re happy because the main aim is to be on the front row, and we have achieved that once again here. In fact we were hoping maybe for second with that last lap, but third is okay as well and Jorge is very fast. He did a long run during the session and his pace was very good, but we still need to improve slightly in T4, because this is where we are losing a bit of time. We will work on this tonight and use the warm-up – weather permitting – to make final improvements."
Final MotoGP Qualifying Times
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
5. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
7. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
8. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda
9. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
10. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
11. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini
12. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing
13. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
14. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team
15. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
16. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando
17. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing
18. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team
19. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP
Assen: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’36.738
Assen: Best Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’35.520