Espargaro Beats The Rain To Bag First MotoGP Pole


Aleix Espargaro claimed the first MotoGP pole position of his career and the first for an open class motorcycle after sneaking to the top of the timesheets before rain intensified at Assen. The Forward Racing rider had been quickest through free practice but succeeded where he had failed in Qatar, converting it into pole position albeit in unusual circumstances.

The weather began to take a turn for the worse in the seconds prior to the pitlane opening for Q2, leading to a hectic scramble among the twelve participants to get a timed lap in in dry conditions. The opening five minutes bore more resemblance to the first lap of a Grand Prix than a qualifying session but Marc Marquez looked most comfortable, slicing through the riders ahead of him at Ruskenhoek.

The world champion duly went straight to the top of the leaderboard on a 1:40.194 and the gaggle of riders who he had overtaken all slotted in behind him but at the tail of the group came Aleix Espargaro who made full use of a clearer track to go 1.4 seconds faster. Aleix was going even faster on his second timed lap, as was Bradley Smith, but as the rain fell even heavier, any hope of improving disappeared. As a result, Espargaro had secured his maiden MotoGP pole position ahead of Marquez and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa while Andrea Iannone took fourth for Pramac Ducati.

After a disastrous time in free practice and having barely escaped the first qualifying session, Cal Crutchlow was understandably relieved to go fifth in the chaotic start to Q2 while Bradley Smith was disappointed with sixth given the time he had looked set to do on his second run. Andrea Dovizioso will head the third row ahead of Stefan Bradl while Jorge Lorenzo’s ninth place summed up a nightmare afternoon for Movistar Yamaha, Valentino Rossi ending up slowest of the twelve riders to take part in Q2, trailing Alvaro Bautista and Pol Espargaro.