Aleix Espargaro timed his lap to perfection on a damp track to take pole position for the Dutch TT at Assen. Aleix Espargaro timed his lap to perfection on a damp track to take pole position for the Dutch TT at Assen. Photo courtesy motogp.com

Espargaro takes first career MotoGP pole

Written by  on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:48

The MotoGP™ race at the Iveco Daily TT Assen will see Aleix Espargaro get away from pole position on the grid on Saturday, ahead of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on row one, after light rain disrupted Q2 on Friday.

A group of riders were bunched up in an early dash from pit lane as they sensed light rain could become heavier right at the beginning of the Q2 run, with NGM Forward Racing’s Espargaro initially hanging behind that group and judging the conditions best for the first pole of his Grand Prix career.

The 1:38.789 time which took pole was over five seconds slower than the FP4 pace, while Repsol Honda pair Marquez and Pedrosa managed to get onto the front row despite trailing Espargaro by 1.4s and 1.9s respectively.

“It was a strange qualifying, but that is usual in Assen,” Espargaro admitted. “At the beginning of the session it was raining and all my team and the Bridgestone guy told me to go quick. But I saw all the other guys going in a bit of chaos. I took a risk and waited 20 seconds. I went alone on the track and I saw 11 riders ahead of me. I pushed and I was a lot faster than them.

“It is fantastic to get my first pole at my favourite track. Since Qatar we have been hunting for pole, I have made some big mistakes so it is great to claim it here. Tomorrow will be a special day and we have a solid pace. It will be strange to be P1 ahead of Marquez, my objective is to fight with the factory guys for the maximum laps. Our pace is quite good.

“I prefer it dry as I have a better feeling and pace. In the wet we don’t have any electronics settings. Regardless it will be hard to follow the Repsol Honda bikes.”

Marquez and Pedrosa recorded times on Thursday to promote them into Friday afternoon’s Q2 as during the morning’s FP3 session the track wasn’t fully wet – or dry – and neither rider set a flying lap.

The weather improved slightly for FP4 and Marquez set the fastest ever lap at Assen on two wheels with a time of 1:33.462. However, the elements soon rolled in and just as the riders exited pitlane for the start of Q2, the rain arrived.

"I’m happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole,” Marquez said. “The weather was very unpredictable, as sometimes it was raining and then it stopped – meaning that conditions were far from ideal. My goal was to get onto the front row, so when I saw that I was up into second I decided not to take any more risks; there was a lot to lose and not much to gain, so I kept calm because I had already reached my target.”

Added Pedrosa, "It was a difficult session because the track was half-dry, half-wet, and then it started to rain more heavily. We went out with slick tires and had time to put in a couple of laps, although there was a lot of traffic and we were all close together. It was hard to know how much of a risk we could take. Finally, with the track half-wet, we managed to set a good time and qualify on the front row which I'm happy with.

“Tomorrow we will continue working on the bike and try to have a good race, which could be either dry or wet.”

Another good effort from Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) put him at the front of the second row, where he will be joined by Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) – who sneaked through from Q1 and took advantage for fifth despite struggling in free practice.

Crutchlow’s compatriot and former teammate Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) completes row two, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) who are all on the third row.

Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) were all four seconds down on the pole time and will therefore all be on the fourth row.

Several riders even switched to wet tires before the end of the session as the rain got heavier, but fortunately there were no crashes despite the tricky conditions.

Saturday’s intermediate class contest at Assen will see Esteve Rabat at the front of the grid, with Dominique Aegerter and Sam Lowes lining up just behind him.

Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) produced a 1:37.311 lap late in the session to secure his sixth pole of the year on his Kalex ride.

Suter-equipped Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) held provisional pole but eventually missed out by 0.151s and the Swiss rider will be joined on the front row by rookie Lowes (Speed Up), who knows this track well and lapped within 0.363s of pole.

Row two will comprise three Kalex riders, Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team), Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) and Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing).

Jack Miller will start Saturday’s Iveco Daily TT Assen Moto3™ race at the front of the grid, with Alex Marquez and Niklas Ajo are also on the front row.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miller responded to the rapid pace of his rivals in practice and QP, producing a new record time of 1:42.240 in the final minutes to take pole for the fourth time this year.

Miller will therefore aim to defend his seven-point championship lead from the head of the grid on Saturday, ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Marquez (+0.116) and Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider Ajo (+190s).

--From motogp.com and Repsol Honda

MotoGP Qualifying Results (courtesy Repsol Honda)

1

Aleix Espargaro

41

ESP

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

YAMAHA

1'38.789

2

Marc Marquez

93

ESP

Repsol Honda Team

HONDA

1'40.194

3

Dani Pedrosa

26

ESP

Repsol Honda Team

HONDA

1'40.732

4

Andrea Iannone

29

ITA

Pramac Racing

DUCATI

1'40.786

5

Cal Crutchlow

35

GBR

Ducati Team

DUCATI

1'40.796

6

Bradley Smith

38

GBR

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

YAMAHA

1'40.818

7

Andrea Dovizioso

4

ITA

Ducati Team

DUCATI

1'41.140

8

Stefan Bradl

6

GER

LCR Honda MotoGP

HONDA

1'41.982

9

Jorge Lorenzo

99

ESP

Yamaha Factory Racing

YAMAHA

1'42.259

10

Alvaro Bautista

19

ESP

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

HONDA

1'42.884

11

Pol Espargaro

44

ESP

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

YAMAHA

1'43.085

12

Valentino Rossi

46

ITA

Yamaha Factory

YAMAHA

1'43.625

13

Karel Abraham

17

CZE

Cardion AB Motoracing

HONDA

1'34.907

14

Hiroshi Aoyama

7

JPN

Drive M7 Aspar

HONDA

1'34.930

15

Yonny Hernandez

68

COL

Pramac Racing

DUCATI

1'35.056

16

Scott Redding

45

GBR

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

HONDA

1'35.059

17

Danilo Petrucci

9

ITA

IodaRacing Project

IODA-SUTER

1'35.346

18

Colin Edwards

5

USA

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

YAMAHA

1'35.484

19

Broc Parkes

23

AUS

Paul Bird Motorsport

PBM

1'35.513

20

Hector Barbera

8

ESP

Avintia Racing MotoGP

FTR-KAWASAKI

1'35.631

21

Michael Laverty

70

GBR

Paul Bird Motorsport

ART & PBM

1'35.731

22

Nicky Hayden

69

USA

Drive M7 Aspar

HONDA

1'35.792

23

Mike Di Meglio

63

FRA

Avintia Racing MotoGP

FTR-KAWASAKI

1'35.980

{fcomment}

Read 763 times

John Hopkins

/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

back to top