Casey Stoner recovered from a heavy fall in final practice to take pole position for the Dutch TT at Assen with a sensational late flyer. The world champion suffered a nasty high side at the Mandeveen corner, one he later described as “one of the biggest of his career”, but with a minute of the qualifying session remaining, he showed his class.
The qualifying hour was twice interrupted by rain which threatened to hand pole to the other Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa who set a 1:34.286 on his first run to edge out Jorge Lorenzo. The first shower came after a quarter of an hour but it soon subsided, allowing Ben Spies to join his teammate on the front row.
The second interruption looked to have brought the session to a close but with a couple of minutes to go, Stoner started lighting up the timing screen. Lying down in eighth at the time, the Australian was in urgent need of an improvement and what followed left the pitlane stunned, as Stoner clocked a 1:33.713 to take six tenths off his teammate's previous mark.
Stoner's lap was made all the more impressive by the fact Lorenzo could only manage a 1:34.158 at the same time. Pedrosa was much closer to his teammate though with a 1:33.828 but neither Spaniard had an answer to the astonishing pace of Stoner.
The race to qualify on the second row was still on with Ben Spies demoted to fourth by Stoner. The American didn't go faster in the mad dash in the closing minutes and was left exposed to the likes of Cal Crutchlow who shot up to fourth on his final lap. A shock challenge emerged from MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl who put in a terrific late effort to pip the Briton, securing a career-best qualifying result for the LCR Honda rider.
Crutchlow dropped back down to fifth as a result with Spies forced to make do with sixth. Honda had turned the tables on the Yamahas who had looked so threatening with Andrea Dovizioso only seventh on the second Tech 3 bike. The lowest of the Hondas will start eighth in the form of Alvaro Bautista and his session was ended early by a crash, indicating he could've been a little higher.
Ducati will have also expected more from their Friday afternoon with Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi ninth and tenth, just ahead of the satellite GP12 ridden by Hector Barbera. Randy de Puniet beat Aleix Espargaro to the honour of top CRT rider in twelfth while James Ellison qualified nineteenth for Paul Bird Motorsports.