It was a supreme fight for MotoGP’s pole position in the Assen Grand Prix but in the end Honda’s Marc Marquez found time at the right moment to take the top spot from LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi.
The first part in qualifying was extremely hard fought with multiple riders trying to find their way into Q2. Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller started off the session on top from Suzuki’s Alex Rins.
But Tech 3 Yamaha’s Hafizh Syahrin toppled him to the front as his teammate Johann Zarco slotted in second. They were immediately taken down with LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami improving to the top.
And straightaway Rins (1m33.600s) took the spot with Nakagami (1m33.625s) pushed into second. It seemed settled but for Zarco who started to improve on his final lap. He was up in the first sector but couldn’t better in Sector 2 and Sector 3.
However, the Frenchman blasted in the final sector to the top with a 1m33.578s laptime, knocking out Nakagami as a result – the Japanese will start from 13th in the Sunday’s race ahead of Avintia Ducati’s Tito Rabat (1m33.666s).
Tech 3’s Syahrin did a same 1m33.666s as Rabat to start in 15th from Miller (1m33.672s) with Aprilia’s Scott Redding (1m33.995s) doing well to be 17th as Honda’s Dani Pedrosa’s (1m34.125s) struggles continued to be only 18th for the race.
In 19th was Angel Nieto Ducati of Karel Abraham (1m34.145s) leading the two KTMs of Bradley Smith (1m34.149s) and Pol Espargaro (1m34.268s) and Marc VDS Honda’s Thomas Luthi (1m35.192s) and Avintia Ducati’s Xavier Simeon (1m35.646s) – with Franco Morbidelli missing due to his practice crash.
In a repeat of Q1, the pole battle was thrilling as well as a last-gasp attempt from Honda’s Marc Marquez earned him pole position for the Dutch GP. The Spaniard had set the early pace but was tackled by Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo on his second run.
Lorenzo himself was toppled by Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone, but Marquez (1m32.791s) found more time on his second run to beat both of them to take his second pole of the 2018 season. Crutchlow (1m32.832s) made it a Honda 1-2.
The British rider was seventh after his first run but improved drastically to second, toppling Rossi (1m32.850s) who shot up to second from ninth on his second run. The Italian takes the front-row start alongside Marquez and Crutchlow.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso (1m32.870s) also improved to fifth with Rins (1m32.933s) behind, followed by Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales (1m32.984s) as Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro (1m33.029s) had a sound session to be seventh ahead of Zarco (1m33.072s).
Both Iannone (1m33.120s) and Lorenzo (1m33.167s) who briefly topped the session, in the end, could only manage ninth and 10th respectively with Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci (1m33.292s) in 11th and Angel Nieto Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista (1m34.015s) 12th.