Rossi razes lap record to take pole position in Assen
In a Qualifying Practice 2 session in which every participant set a lap time quicker than the old Assen pole position record, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi produced one his greatest qualifying performances in recent years to set a new Assen Circuit Best Lap record of 1’32.627 to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Dutch Grand Prix.
Rossi saved the best until last in qualifying, setting his benchmark time on his penultimate lap to take pole position ahead of Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro who was second quickest with a best time of 1’32.858. Third in qualifying was Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez who was a mere 0.028 seconds behind Espargaro with a best time of 1’32.886, set on his final qualifying lap. On a weekend where bike and tire performance has been extraordinary, Rossi’s record time in QP2 shaved 1.1 seconds off the previous best ever pole position time at Assen, and also bettered the Assen Circuit Best Lap record set by Marquez last year by eight tenths of a second.
Weather conditions for today were mainly fine and warm, although the morning Free Practice 3 session was interrupted by a brief rain shower, although the rain didn’t have any lasting effect on track conditions. The peak track temperature today was 38°C which was four degrees cooler than yesterday’s high. With a good amount of dry track time today, the riders were able to perform long runs on their preferred tire combination, and a clear picture on what tire options will feature in tomorrow’s race emerged. The soft compound front slick will be used by the vast majority of riders, although the medium compound front slick could make an appearance on the grid for tomorrow’s race as well. Rear tire choice is more evenly split between the soft and medium compound rear slicks. All of the open class, as well as the factory Aprilia and Suzuki riders are likely to select the soft compound rear for the race, while the factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders look set to race with the medium compound rear slick.
MotoGP Warm Up takes place at 0940 local time (GMT +2) tomorrow morning before the twenty-six lap Dutch Grand Prix gets underway at 1400.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“I am pleased to see the strong performance shown by all the riders today, the pace this year at Assen has been very quick and we’ve seen very few incidents which is always a positive outcome. Thankfully the rain we had today didn’t cause too much disruption and the riders were able to do long runs in FP4 to help decide on their race tire choice. The soft compound front slick has emerged as the clear favorite this weekend, but for the rear tire it seems that if the race is dry, half the grid will race with the soft rear, the other half on the medium rear as both these options are working very well. There is a chance of rain tomorrow, but hopefully we can enjoy an exciting race in dry conditions tomorrow.”