NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro claimed his first ever pole position after a rain shower at the start of Qualifying Practice 2 turned the session into an exciting one-lap dash as riders tried to set a quick lap on slick tyres before conditions deteriorated. Espargaro judged the conditions perfectly, running apart from the main pack of riders to set a lap time of 1’38.789 to end the session 1.405 seconds ahead of the next-best qualifier, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. On the other Repsol Honda RC213V, Dani Pedrosa was third quickest in qualifying as he set a time of 1’40.732 before the rain intensified after which all the riders were unable to improve their times further.
Today’s weather was generally fine, although the occasional rain shower created variable track conditions at times. Light rain fell at the start of the morning Free Practice 3 session, with many riders taking the opportunity to scrub a set of wet tyres for later use, before conditions improved allowing riders to use slick tyres for the rest of the session. The afternoon FP4 session was dry, allowing riders to perform longer runs on their preferred slick tyre combination, and the fine conditions allowed Marquez to set a new Circuit Best Lap record time of 1’33.462. Ambient and track temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, with today’s peak track temperature of 30° being thirteen degrees cooler than yesterday.
The cooler conditions today resulted in the riders preferring softer rear slick options, while the soft compound front tyre was the most popular. However, some riders opted to use the extra-soft front slick, preferring the extra edge grip this option provides rather than the better braking stability of the soft option. If tomorrow’s race is run in dry conditions, it is expected that the majority of the riders will use the softest rear slick option available to them, paired with the soft compound front slick. Weather forecasts indicate similar conditions to today, with a fair chance of rain. The next MotoGP session is tomorrow’s Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT+1) before the twenty-six lap race commences at 1400.
“I’m happy with this front row, although we obviously wanted to take pole! 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”.
“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 tyres 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”.
“It was a pity because I think with dry conditions we could stay in first row, but it was dry but spitting in some places like normal Assen circumstances. Like this it’s very difficult to go with slicks and understand the limit of the track. You can feel good in two or three corners and suddenly arrive on one corner and it’s wet and you crash. I tried to let some riders run in first position but they didn’t want to so when we arrived in the last corner I decided to push. Maybe it wasn’t the right strategy. It’s a lesson to learn for the future. The pace is good but obviously it’s not going to be easy to overtake the in theory slower riders tomorrow. I hope to pass some people on the first corners and little by little move up. The race is long and if we have a good pace we can fight for the podium.”
“It’s a shame because I was competitive today and in all the practices so I thought I could fight for a good position for tomorrow. Unfortunately we had rain at just the wrong moment and I have to start from the fourth row. This changes a lot and everything will be harder. Jorge is close to me but our competitors are on the front row so it will be hard. On the dry I know I can be competitive, I have a good pace so we have to try the maximum. We improved a lot the stability of the bike for today, so I can push. Especially this afternoon I was really good so I am happy with the pace. We have to wait for tomorrow to see what the conditions are but I hope for a dry race.”
MotoGP 2014 Assen Qualifying timings
- FRONT ROW
- 1. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’38.789
- 2. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’40.194
- 3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’40.732
- SECOND ROW
- 4. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’40.786
- 5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Ducati Team 1’40.796
- 6. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’40.818
- THIRD ROW
- 7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’41.140
- 8. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’41.982
- 9. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’42.259
- FOURTH ROW
- 10. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’42.884
- 11. Pol EspargarÃ² (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’43.085
- 12. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’43.625
- FIFTH ROW
- 13. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’34.907
- 14. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Drive M7 Aspar 1’34.930
- 15. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 1’35.056
- SIXTH ROW
- 16. Scott Redding (GBR) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’35.059
- 17. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Iodaracing Team 1’35.346
- 18. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’35.484
- SEVENTH ROW
- 19. Brok Parkes (AUS) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’35.513
- 20. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 1’35.631
- 21. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’35.731
- EIGHTH ROW
- 22. Nicky Hayden (USA) Drive M7 Aspar 1’35.792
- 23. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing 1’35.980