Luthi on pole for the ninth round of Moto2 at Assen

Mixed weather conditions on day two of the ninth round for the Moto2 at Assen meant it was difficult for riders ahead of the race, as they participated in their final Free Practice session and qualifying where Thomas Luthi has claimed pole position.

Luthi on pole for the ninth round of Moto2 at Assen
Luthi on pole for the ninth round of Moto2 at Assen -

As the Moto2 riders took to the TT Circuit Assen for the final Free Practice session before Qualifying in cool but dry conditions initially as the rain that was forecast had managed to hold off. However midway through the session the precipitation flag was waved o indicate rain which forced riders back to the pits temporarily. A flurry of fast laps at the end of the session left 2015 Moto2 champion Johann Zarco on top with a time of 1:37.427 to beat.

Turn seven difficult for Moto2 riders as they complete final Free Practice session

Like in other classes, turn seven continued to catch out the riders. Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) was the first rider to crash during the session in the beginning stages. Turn seven is a fast left hander and as Vierge entered the corner the front tucked under him and he was thrown into the gravel trap. The Spanish rider required medical assistance attention as he lay in the gravel; he was soon helped to his feet and was supported as he limped to the safe areas at the side of the track.

Final chicane catching riders out

The final chicane is also difficult for the riders as they have to work hard to flip the bike from right to left whilst trying to keep the front end down as they accelerate towards the start-finish straight. It caught out Zarco who ran off the track as he entered the final chicane and was forced to run through the gravel. Later on, riders including Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) was among some of the riders who had lap times cancelled for exceeding the track limit through the chicane which has recently been modified for safety reasons; the artificial grass, which has been the cause of incidents in the past, has been removed and a low kerb installed to ‘annoy’ riders rather than increase the risk.

There was then another massive crash as Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), son of MotoGP legend Wayne Gardner, came off at turn fifteen which is a very fast left hander. The Australian shot into the gravel but fortunately he and the bike slid to a halt rather than tumbling which would benefit him in the long run as it meant less damage to the bike; previously in the MotoGP FP3 many bikes destroyed themselves as they tumbled to a stop.

Edgar Pons (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) then crashed out at turn seventeen after he lost the back end on the exit of the chicane and was thrown over the bike. The Spanish brother of Axel Pons (AGR Team) appeared hurt after the massive highside and he needed medical attention from the trackside medic after sliding to a stop on the grass on his knees; he was able to walk away but required assistance. Later he was seen returning to his pit garage; although he was limping he seemed otherwise unhurt.

Ajo Motorsport rider Johann Zarco -
Ajo Motorsport rider Johann Zarco -

Zarco the man to beat at the end of Free Practice

Zarco remained the fastest man by the end of the session, he was 0.14 seconds faster than Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) in second and British rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) who were the only three riders who managed to lap under 1:38 minutes by the end of the session.

Mixed weather conditions for Moto2 qualifying

Moto2 qualifying was the final session of the day, during Moto3 qualifying it began to rain, by the MotoGP riders had got to the track it was raining heavily and riders had to use wet tyres. By the time it came to the qualifying for the Moto2 riders the rain had stopped and a dry line had started to form. Previously prepped bikes that were equipped for wet conditions had to be changed to settings for slick tyres as it had brightened up enough.

However, even though the track had dried, the surrounding painted lines and kerbs were still wet and therefore slippery which was hazardous for riders. One rider in particular that was caught out was Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who had a huge moment when he touched the kerb. He was almost thrown of the bike as he was lifted out of his seat, but luckily he was able to rescue it and continue with qualifying.

Midway through the session marshals were seen waving the precipitation flag to indicate that the conditions were again changing. It began to again rain heavily as all riders retreated to the pits to change the bikes back to settings for wet conditions.

Riders reluctant to return to the track

With less than thirteen minutes remaining some riders began to return to the track to test the setup of the bike in the wet. Luca Marini (Forward Team) ventured out first and was soon joined by Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team). No other riders appeared to be willing to take the risk and waited to see how those that went out faired before attempting to ride out. Some finally did though as the ‘Diminished Adhesion’ flag was also waved along with the precipitation flag.

In the final stages of the session Gardner who had ventured out crashed out at turn eight after the back end slipped and threw him over the front of the bike. He was unhurt but seemed disappointed having had his second crash of the day.

Luthi claims pole position

After the final rain shower riders were unable to improve on the lap times and so Thomas Luthi, who set his lap time earlier on in the session, claimed pole position with his time of 1:37.954 which was just under half a second slower than the circuit lap record set by Tito Rabat last year (1:37.449). Luthi was the only rider to lap under 1:38 minutes. Zarco qualified to start from second on the gird and Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) will complete the front row. Lowes will start from fourth, beside him will be Franco Morbidelli and Nakagami. Sandro Cortese leads the thir row and he will be joined by Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) who will make up the fourth row.

The fastest Speed Up bike was ridden by Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing) who managed to qualify in fourteenth position. The highest placed Tech 3 bike was that of Isaac Vinales (Tech 3 Racing) who will start the race from twenty-fourth on the grid. British Moto2 rookie Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) will start the race from eighteenth on the grid.

Moto2 Qualifying ahead of ninth round at TT Circuit Assen
1 12 Thomas Luthi Switzerland Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex 1:37.954
2 5 Johann Zarco France Ajo Motorsport Kalex 1:38.402
3 77 Dominique Aegerter Switzerland CarXpert Interwetten Kalex 1:38.449
4 22 Sam Lowes GBR Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex 1:38.494
5 21 Franco Morbidelli Italy Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex 1:38.544
6 30 Takaaki Nakagami Jaoan IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex 1:38.615
7 11 Sandro Cortese Germany Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex 1:38.631
8 40 Alex Rins Spain Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex 1:38.873
9 94 Jonas Folger Germany Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex 1:39.076
10 7 Lorenzo Baldassarri Italy Forward Team Kalex 1:39.259
11 44 Miguel Oliveira Portugal Leopard Racing Kalex 1:39.394
12 54 Mattia Pasini Italy Italtrans Racing Team Kalex 1:39.322
13 73 Alex Marquez Spain Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex 1:39.337
14 19 Xavier Simeon  Belgium QMMF Racing Team Speed Up  1:39.432
15 60 Julian Simon Spain QMMF Racing Team Speed Up  1:39.513
16 24 Simone Corsi Italy Speed Up Racing Speed Up  1:39.555
17 23 Marcel Schrotter Germany AGR Team Kalex 1:39.647
18 52 Danny Kent GBR Leopard Racing Kalex 1:39.663
19 49 Axel Pons Spain AGR Team Kalex 1:39.778
20 55 Hafitzh Syahrin Malaysia Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex 1:39.840
21 10 Luca Marini Italy Forward Team Kalex 1:40.545
22 70 Robin Mulhauser Switzerland CarXpert Interwetten Kalex 1:40.933
23 2 Jesko Raffin Switzerland Sports-Millions-EMWE-SAG Kalex 1:40.935
24 32 Isaac Vinales Spain Tech 3 Racing Tech 3 1:41.119
25 97 Xavi Vierge Spain Tech 3 Racing Tech 3 1:41.898
26 87 Remy Gardner Australia Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex 1:42.629
27 57 Edgar Pons Spain  Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex 1:44.229