Sandro Cortese pipped Danny Kent in the dying seconds to claim pole position for the Dutch TT at Assen, denying his young teammate a maiden Grand Prix pole. Kent was the quickest man in final practice and carried that form into qualifying but found the experienced German just too quick for him.
The morning times remained unbeaten for well over twenty minutes before Miguel Oliveira set a 1:44.311 for Estrella Galicia 0,0. The Portuguese rider hung onto provisional pole for several minutes despite the likes of Cortese and Jakub Kornfeil joining him in the 1:43.3s range.
The big move came with five minutes to go as Kent grabbed pole position on a 1:44.188. Alexis Masbou tucked into the Briton's slipstream to go second but behind the pair of them, Cortese was setting red sector times and became the first rider to break into the 1:43s.
After setting the pace on Thursday, Maverick Vinales was conspicuous by his absence at the top of the timesheets but with seconds to go, he split the Red Bull KTMs but with his best lap time delivered, and other riders still on track, his front row slot was still under threat.
Cortese's provisional pole was also looking precarious as Danny Kent roared into a half second lead at the halfway stage of his final lap. Unfortunately for the teenager, his pace tailed off as the lap came to a close and he had to make do with second while Cortese did the opposite, gradually building speed and improving to a 1:43.645.
Vinales' worst fears were realised as Hector Faubel knocked him off the front row on the Aspar Kalex-KTM, with Niklas Ajo edging ahead of the championship leader as well. Vinales wouldn't even be able to hold onto fifth spot as Italian rookie Niccolo Antonelli jumped up to third, a sensational result in just his seventh Grand Prix.
Faubel, Ajo and Vinales will make up the second row of the grid tomorrow with Alexis Masbou heading the third row for Caretta Technology. Having held provisional pole with a matter of minutes remaining, Miguel Oliveira will have been disappointed with eighth while Jakub Kornfeil, another former pole setter, tumbled to ninth.
A number of big names will have work to do tomorrow after underperforming in qualifying, most of all Luis Salom who starts tenth at his RW Racing GP team's home race. Romano Fenati, the man directly behind him in the championship, is even further back in seventeenth with Zulfahmi Khairuddin next to him on the sixth row. They will both have Danny Webb on their tail after the Briton dragged the uncompetitive Mahindra up to 20th.