Johann Zarco produced another remarkable performance in his impressive rookie season by claiming his first MotoGP pole position at Assen. The Frenchman coped best with the wet conditions to pip Marc Marquez with Danilo Petrucci taking his second consecutive front row start in third, ahead of both factory Yamaha riders.
Morning rain effectively washed out FP3, meaning the Friday practice times would set the field for qualifying. This left Jorge Lorenzo in Q1 and with wet conditions at Assen bringing back painful memories for the five-time champion, Lorenzo never looked likely to advance into Q2. As it turned out though, Ducati’s worst fears were realised as the Spaniard qualified 21st, the worst starting spot of his MotoGP career.
The great success story of Q1 was Sam Lowes who delivered the perfect response to his critics, some from within his own team, by finishing second fastest to reach Q2 for the first time, joining Scott Redding. Unfortunately for the rookie, Aprilia mechanical gremlins would strike again with two minutes of the pole position shootout remaining, the engine on the no.22 expiring.
For much of Q2, Petrucci had looked like the man to beat, eventually lowering the target time to a 1:46.526, and it wasn’t until the chequered flag came out that he was finally usurped. Marquez took over with his final effort, clocking a 1:46.206, but Zarco shocked everyone with his last run of the session, edging out the reigning champion by six hundredths of a second.
Valentino Rossi was knocked off the front row by Zarco’s late improvement although the Italian will still line up a competitive fourth, joined on row two by Redding and Jonas Folger on the second Tech 3 Yamaha. Alvaro Bautista starts seventh ahead of Cal Crutchlow with the in-form Andrea Dovizioso ninth on the grid after crashing at turn eight.
Lowes lines up a superb tenth despite his engine failure and will have some illustrious company on the fourth row, with championship leader Maverick Vinales and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa alongside.
2017 Motul TT Assen – Qualifying Result
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