Track temperatures approaching fifty degrees greeted the MotoGP riders when they went out for qualifying at Assen, the eighth round of the 2019 World Championship.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was fifth in free practice three, but had his lap cancelled for exceeding track limits. Nonetheless, it was expected that the factory Yamaha rider would move through to Q2, because he had looked quite good on hot-lap speed through the weekend. However, the Italian was not fast enough, and it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who went through with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took the lap record and the third pole position of his rookie year in MotoGP with a 1’32.017. He nearly broke the 1’32 barrier on his final flying lap but missed out in the final sector. He then set his airbag off celebrating his pole. The Frenchman has had outstanding pace this weekend, and if he can get away and do his rhythm from the start he has a great chance of his first MotoGP win.
Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will line up second on the grid tomorrow after a superb lap from the Spaniard. If he makes a start he might be one of the only riders who can go with Quartararo.
Another rider to have a chance of going with Quartararo is Alex Rins, who went through qualifying one to qualify third. The TT Assen circuit suits the Suzuki and the Yamaha well, with the long flowing corners suiting the nimble, stable front ends on the YZR-M1 and the GSX-RR. Quartararo, Vinales and Rins made the most of this in this qualifying.
Whilst Assen works for Suzuki and Yamaha, it has not worked for Honda this year, with Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) out of the weekend after a big crash at turn seven on Friday. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL), too, have been suffering with the front end of the 2019 RC213V this weekend which has visibly missed stability. Marquez, even, was unable to continue his one-hundred per cent front row record for 2019, and he lines up fourth for the 2019 Dutch TT, although his front end save in turn one was perhaps the highlight of the session.
Is it possible to save a bike at 67 degrees lean angle?! ?
— MotoGP™ ?? (@MotoGP) June 29, 2019
With Marquez on the second row are Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) who was the second-fastest Honda on the 2018 version.
Cal Crutchlow was seventh fastest in Q2, ahead of the top Ducati, Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) who was eighth. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completes row three.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) heads up row four from Andrea Dovizoso (Mission Winnow Ducati) who seemed to go backwards on Saturday. Pol Espargaro was twelfth-fastest.
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) lines up at the head of row five on Sunday, ahead of Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini); whilst Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) heads up row six from the two KTMs of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who fell at De Strubben in the closing stages of Q1.
Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech3) heads up the back row, from Andrea Iannone (Aprilia acing Team Gresini) who will be disappointed after a good weekend. Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) will start from last.
Featured Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing