Rossi Claims Critical Pole Position at Assen

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Valentino Rossi came up with the perfect answer to questions surrounding his qualifying form by taking pole position for the Dutch TT at Assen. The championship leader has struggled for single lap pace all season but responded by setting the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of Assen to edge out Catalunya polesitter Aleix Espargaro.

After finishing on top of a frantic final practice session, Rossi began qualifying with a genuine belief that pole position might be possible but Marc Marquez did too, clocking the fastest time of the weekend on his very first lap of Q2. The world champion set a 1:33.005 with most of his time being found in the final sector as many riders lost ground on him through the final sequence of corners.

With two minutes to go, the 93 second barrier was finally broken with Aleix Espargaro setting a 1:32.858, a major surprise considering he had started the afternoon in Q1. Back-to-back poles looked likely when Marquez’s final effort came up short but Rossi still had a quarter of a second in his pocket and snatched pole for himself in the last minute.

Espargaro and Marquez will join him on the front row with Dani Pedrosa heading row two, fractionally faster than Pol Espargaro and Andrea Iannone who will start alongside him. Cal Crutchlow completed his first run in seventh before falling five places while Jorge Lorenzo fell even further, leaving him with a place in the middle of the third row in eighth.

Maverick Vinales rounds out row three while Andrea Dovizioso and Bradley Smith will need fast starts from the fourth row having qualified tenth and twelfth respectively.



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