Dovizioso claims pole position after crashed filled practice and qualifying ahead of Assen GP

Miserable weather conditions meant it was difficult for the MotoGP riders to improve at the TT Circuit Assen. Ducati rider Dovizioso proved the Ducatis are strong around there as he claimed pole position after a crash filled final Free Practice Session and dramatic qualifying sessions.

Dovizioso claims pole position after crashed filled practice and qualifying ahead of Assen GP
Dovizioso claims pole position after crashed filled practice and qualifying ahead of Assen GP - www.motogp.com

Rain delayed the riders from making their way to TT Circuit Assen for the final Free Practice session for the MotoGP class ahead of qualifying. With just twenty minutes of the session remaining and the rain still falling, some of the riders eventually made their way out to the track to collect as much data as possible in the conditions with the Michelin full wet tyres;  as they were concerned they may face similar conditions for the race on Sunday.

Riders reluctant to take to track in wet conditions

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) was first out, but did not stay out for long as he decided to return to his garage instead of completing a fast lap.  After a few minutes of being out on track Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed out at turn ten; he lost the front end of the Honda when he entered the corner. Marshals struggled to get his bike out of the gravel although it did not appear too damaged and luckily Crutchlow seemed uninjured as they tried to restart his bike.

Soon after, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) crashed out of turn nine after he also lost the front end. He was straight up on his feet also doing what he could to assist marshals in recovering his bike so he could return as there was less than ten minutes remaining. Moments later, Alvaro Bautista (Aprila Racing Team Gresini) crashed out at the same corner; he appeared deflated as he walked to the safety area having crashed for the third time this weekend. His teammate Stefan Bradl then crashed out at turn four having also lost the front end on the right hander; the airbag in his leathers inflated as he entered the gravel trap.

Redding did his best Gene Kelly impression after a crash

Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) crashed out at turn eight with just over five minutes remaining. He ran to the side of the track and was seen dancing in the rain in the safe area. The conditions continued to catch people out as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) ran off track. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) was flying despite the wet conditions and was currently the fastest out on track when he came across Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) who was slower but on his line, Petrucci had to go off the track to avoid colliding with him and was gesturing angrily at Hernandez who was unaware of the incident. Soon after he crashed at turn nine ending his session early, he was unhurt.

Difficult weekend continues for Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) has had a difficult weekend so far as he has struggled to match the pace of the other factory riders. His teammate Marquez had just set the fastest time of the session but Pedrosa’s misfortune continued as he crashed out in the last few minutes at turn nine as the front end tucked under. He appeared unhurt but looked demotivated as he had limited time to return to his pit as he had not made it through to the second qualifying session due to a poor lap time in FP3 and so he had to try and finish in the top two of qualifying one in order to be in with a chance. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) who won at Assen in 2015 was second fastest in the wet conditions pushing Petrucci down to third.

First qualifying session was underway

The wet conditions meant it was difficult to complete a fast time when the qualifying session got underway and riders tried to push in the wet. Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati) almost came into contact with British rider Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) who managed to avoid the Spaniard who missed his braking point. Barbera remained in top spot having set the fastest time which left him with a good chance of progressing through to the final qualifying session. But then with just under eight minutes remaining he crashed out after losing the front end at the same corner he struggled at previously, turn ten, sliding into the gravel. The Marshals were able to help him get restarted and he quickly returned to the pits.

Pol Espargaro claims op spot in late stages of qualifying one

Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Racing MotoGP) soon set the fastest time knocking Barbera down to second as he narrowly avoided coming into contact with Bautista. Soon after with five minutes to go Miller crashed again at turn ten. It appeared to be day over for Miller as they struggled to get his bike going again. Michele Pirro, who is standing in fro injured Loris Baz on his Avintia Ducati, then crashed at the fast turn sixteen; he was unhurt as he and the bike slid into the gravel but they were able to restart his bike.

Pedrosa looked to claim back one of the two top spots until he messed up the lap in the final stages making things even more difficult for himself. He appeared to be lacking confidence as he hesitated the next time he visited the corner where he had previously crashed and had to settle for starting the race from sixteenth on the grid.

In true Pol Espargaro style he completed a flying lap in the dying stages which meant he was the fastest in qualifying one which meant he and Hernandez where the two riders to progress through to the final qualifying session for a chance to gain a higher grid position for the race.

Just fifteen minutes remained...

The track had begun to dry out ever so slightly as the riders made their way out to the track immediately for the final MotoGP session of the day, qualifying two. It was a relaxed start for Marquez who waited or a quieter track before venturing out.

Within minutes was the first incident when Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out at turn five when he lost the front on his out lap. Unfortunately for the Spaniard he and the Marshals struggled to get his bike restarted and so he ran to get a lift pack to the pits to get his second bike.

Marquez on the rob

Then minutes later Marquez who had just completed his out crashed out at turn eight after losing the front end. He was uninjured and instead of trying to rescue his bike he abandoned it and ran to the side of the track where he found a scooter, which happened to have keys in it, which he decided to take back to the pits without first checking for permission from the owner. Within minutes he was back in his pit garage shaking the gravel out of his gloves. With just under five minutes left he made it out and was able to complete a quick enough lap to claim an amazing fourth position on the grid considering the circumstances.

Dovizioso claims pole for the Assen GP

It was Andrea Dovizoso (Ducati) who claimed pole position in the wet conditions with the fastest time of 1:45.246; this time was nearly twelve seconds off the Circuit Record lao here set by Marquez last year. Flying laps in the final stages meant that Rossi qualified in second position and Redding will complete the front row as the highest placed independent rider, Marquez finished fourth ahead of LCR Honda team rider Cal Crutchlow in fifth and Hernandez was pushed down to sixth position as the second highest placed Ducati as Iannone has to start from the rear of the grid. Pol Espargaro qualified seventh and his brother Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will start beside him in eigth and although Iannone qualified ninth it is Petrucci who will start from that position. Lorenzo could only manage teneth in qualifying meaning his work is cut out for him if he wants to make up for his DNF at the Barcelona GP after Iannone crashed into him and took him out of the race (which is what led to his penalty).

Because of his crash Vinales will start from eleventh and the fourth row will be comopleted by Barbera. Smith qualified thirteenth ahead of Bautista and Pedrosa will start from a disappointing fifteenth for the factory Honda rier. Laverty will start from sixteenth ahead of Bradl, Miller and rookie Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS). Pirro will start from twentieth position on the grid and he will be joined at the back by Iannone.

MotoGP Grid Positions for Assen GP 2016
POSITION RIDER NATIONALITY TEAM BIKE TIME
1 04 Andrea Dovizioso Italy Ducati Ducati 1:45.246
2 46 Valentino Rossi Italy  Movistar Yamaha Yamaha 1:45.961
3 45 Scott Redding GBR Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati 1:46.312
4 93 Marc Marquez Spain Repsol Honda Honda 1:46.430
5 35 Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda Honda 1:46.568
6 68 Yonny Hernandez Columbia Aspar TEam MotoGP Ducati 1:46.828
7 44 Pol Espargaro Spain Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Yamaha 1:46.997
8 41 Aleix Espargaro Spain Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1:47.118
9 9 Danilo Petrucci Italy Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati 1:47.601
10 99 Jorge Lorenzo Spain Movistar Yamaha Yamaha 1:47.897
11 25 Maverick Vinales Spain Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1:48.415
12 8 Hector Barbera Spain Avintia Ducati Ducati 1:48.830
13 38 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Yamaha 1:48.909
14 19 Alvaro Bautista Spain Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:49.163
15 26 Dani Pedrosa Spain Repsol Honda Honda 1:49.364
16 50 Eugene Laverty Ireland Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati 1:49.678
17 6 Stefan Bradl Germany Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:49.685
18 43 Jack Miller Australia Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1:49.775
19 53 Tito Rabat Spain Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1:49.779
20 51 Michele Pirro Italy Avintia Ducati Ducati 1:50.204
21 29 Andrea Iannone Italy Ducati Ducati 1:47.567