Marc Marquez claimed his fifth pole in six races with a stunning lap at Assen although his day was bookended by two accidents. The championship leader fell at turn one during morning practice and shortly after setting a blistering 1:37.133 for pole, suffered a highside at the Strubben hairpin.
The session got off to a dramatic start with the two QMMF Moriwakis tripping over each other at that same left-hander. Anthony West, a former 250cc winner at this circuit, lost the front end of his motorcycle as he closed in on Damian Cudlin. West was forced to drop the bike and teammate Elena Rosell was powerless to avoid the no.95, sending her sprawling as well.
By this point, Pol Espargaro was already on provisional pole having topped all three practice sessions but Marquez soon established his superiority with consecutive laps in the 1m37 range, something no-one else was able to manage yet.
Just before the halfway mark, Espargaro did up the pace and dropped the target time to a 1:37.588 but his joy would only last until the final five minutes with Marquez producing a lap no-one thought would be possible, turning his 0.146s deficit into a near-half-second advantage.
With time running out, Andrea Iannone jumped up to third but as if to demonstrate the speed of Marquez, the Italian was the best part of a second slower than the man who will start alongside him on the front row. Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher had held P3 but Iannone's improvement knocked him onto the second row, with compatriot Dominique Aegerter next to him in fifth.
Simone Corsi's recent upturn in form continued with sixth while the two front running Britons will start together on the third row. Scott Redding, despite riding with a swollen knee following his collision with Toni Elias yesterday, battled his way to seventh while Bradley Smith will start a solid eighth for Tech 3.
Alex De Angelis, riding an FTR chassis for the first time, qualified ninth ahead of a subdued Thomas Luthi. Gino Rea, meanwhile, will start on the ninth row back in 26th place.