Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi secured fourth position in qualifying today for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of the Netherlands. After a wet morning practice the nine-time world champion enjoyed a dry qualifying session this afternoon, initially climbing to fourth position on his first set of rubber. With eight minutes remaining of the 15 minute quick-fire session Rossi pitted for a new rear tyre before heading back out. As the last minutes ticked down the pace increased and a potential pole position looked possible as he topped the time sheets with a 1’34.974 lap. A late flurry of hot laps from rivals as the clock hit zero left no time for a reply, leaving the Italian just 0.096 seconds off the front row in fourth for tomorrow’s race.
Having made a significant step forward in set up during the recent Spanish tests Rossi has been strong in both wet and dry conditions this weekend, consistently in the fastest group and showing a very competitive pace for race day.
Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo returns to Assen this afternoon after surgery last night in Barcelona to repair a collarbone injury sustained in yesterday’s wet second practice session. Lorenzo did not take part in the qualifying heat.
Valentino Rossi 4th / 1’34.974 / 9 laps
“I’m happy for my speed, my pace and my performance in the practices. I feel good with the setting of the bike. It’s a pity I didn’t stay on the first row as I think I had the potential to do a little better and stay in the first three. Anyway, I’m fourth, the best qualifying of the season and especially I have a good pace, even after a lot of laps so I’m happy. Now we wait for tomorrow, we have some small modifications to make to the settings and we have to hope that the weather will be good. I hope for a dry race, but if it is wet I hope it is 100% wet, half and half is the worst conditions.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“It has been the best qualifying session for Vale this year which is really promising as we know he is more of a racer than a pole man. He has been pretty fast and consistent in all the sessions so it looks like he is ready for tomorrow. It is important because it means we have made a good job in the last week. We are waiting for Jorge’s final status however we look forward to the race with good prospects whatever the weather conditions.”
Dutch delight for Crutchlow with maiden pole position
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow delivered a sensational performance at the historic Assen track in Holland this afternoon to storm to a maiden MotoGP pole position for tomorrow’s Dutch TT. The French-based Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad had double reason to celebrate in cool and cloudy conditions after rookie Bradley Smith produced an equally stunning display to qualify in a career best sixth position for tomorrow’s 26-lap race.
Crutchlow threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the field right from the start of QP2, his first flying lap of 1.35.613 sending him soaring to the top of the timesheets. Bumped down to fourth when he started his last lap attack, he produced an exhibition in controlled and aggressive riding, the 27-year-old almost 0.5s ahead of the best pace as he entered the final section of the legendary Assen track. Having been narrowly beaten to pole position in Qatar and Catalunya, British rider Crutchlow wasn’t to be thwarted again and he grabbed the headlines today with a perfect final lap of 1.34.398 that secured a career first pole position by a comfortable margin of 0.357s over Marc Marquez. Crutchlow’s phenomenal result saw him become the first British rider to claim a MotoGP pole position since Jeremy McWilliams in 2002.
There was plenty to be proud of on the opposite side of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage this afternoon after Smith’s heroics ensured he will start from the second row of the grid for the first time in his premier class career. Still troubled by pain and discomfort from a recovering left wrist injury he sustained in Mugello recently, Smith brilliantly powered his YZR-M1 machine to sixth position with a best time of 1.35.454. He managed to knock over a second off his pace in nine breathless laps and like Crutchlow he saved his best to last and he will sit alongside Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa on the grid for Assen’s unique Saturday race. Today’s result was easily the 22-year-old’s best in MotoGP qualifying after he had previously started ninth on the grid in Qatar and Le Mans. After racing to a career first top six at the last round in Catalunya, Smith is confident he can produce another strong race tomorrow to strengthen his challenge for a place inside the top 10 in the World Championship standings.
Cal Crutchlow 1st / 1’34.398 / 9 laps
“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. It is a great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because it is not often a non-factory rider gets a pole position in MotoGP. The competition is incredibly tough but today we showed again that we can compete with the very best. I’m particularly pleased to be on pole because I’ve been struggling a bit with the bike in the dry. I wasn’t happy in FP4 and if we can make the bike calmer there is no reason why I can’t go faster. I’m looking forward to the race now with a lot of confidence and we will see what happens but it could be a big battle hopefully for the fans to watch. Congratulations also to Bradley because he is not in the best physical condition and to be on the second row shows he is making big progress.”
Bradley Smith 6th / 1’35.454 / 9 laps
“Sixth position is a fantastic achievement and I am really happy. With Ducati not performing well at this track I took advantage of that situation and to be only one second away from pole position is also great. Starting on the second row gives me a good chance to follow the factory guys and also Cal if I can. The biggest goal for the race will be to learn as much as I can from racing against the very best in the world. I am expecting a tough race though because Assen is a really physical track and for my wrist it will not be easy to do 26 laps. I want to thank the Clinica Mobile staff again because they have done an awesome job in helping me be as comfortable and pain free as possible. I am feeling more confident with the bike and we found a good base for this track. I’m really excited to see what I can do in the race and congratulations to Cal on his pole position. He’s been riding awesome all season and today we saw once again just how strong the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is.”
2013 MotoGP Netherlands
1 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’34.398
2 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’34.755
3 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’34.878
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’34.974
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’35.006
6 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’35.454
7 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’35.500
8 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’35.508
9 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’35.622
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’35.908
11 Michele Pirro Ducati ITA 1’36.866
12 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’36.432
13 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 1’36.490
14 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’36.524
15 Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter ITA 1’36.695
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1-1-2010)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 30-6-2012)
Last Years Winner: