Rossi On Pole In Assen

Henny Ray Abrams | June 26, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi will seek his 100th Grand Prix victory from the pole position after taking his second pole in qualifying for Saturday’s Dutch TT in Assen, Holland.Rossi had been among the fastest riders throughout the session, held on a cool, overcast afternoon at the Circuit van Drenthe in northern Holland. Rossi, teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards dominated the hour, with each taking turns at the top. The competition was so fierce that with about 15 minutes to go those four, plus Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, were within a tenth of a second.Edwards had gone to the top early, when the softer of the two Bridgestone options began to come into play with about 20 minutes to run. Then Stoner took over, with just over 12 minutes to go. And Lorenzo would take the lead inside the ninth minute.But Rossi would ultimately prevail, with a lap of 1:36.025 that he completed with just under two minutes to run. Pedrosa had chased Rossi for the entire lap and slotted into second at a gap of .085 secs. He said that “in the last seven, eight minutes I have always five riders behind, so I have to understand exactly where start to push.”But is a good lap time. I’m happy about the setting. We work well with my team and looks like my Yamaha is good on this track. So we wait for tomorrow and we hope for good weather.”Lorenzo held onto third on the strength of the lap he’d run to take the top spot, a 1:36.393.Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner was a visibly disappointed fourth after an eventful end to the session. One of his fast laps was ruined when the rear of his Desmosedici GP09 violently broke loose, forcing him to pit for a new tire. Then on his final lap he took offense to Sete Gibernau (Grupo Francisco Hernando), who blocked him in a fast corner. As he pulled into the pits after qualifying, Stoner offered Gibernau a hand gesture.Edwards and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi filled out row two.Chris Vermeulen put the second Rizla Suzuki on the row three pole in front of Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s James Toseland.LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet couldn’t duplicate his Thursday effort, when he was fastest in the lone practice session, and finished 10th fastest, one up on San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex De Angelis. The Gresini Honda team announced that they’d replaced De Angelis for 2010 with 250cc World Champion Marco Simoncelli. Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio filled row four.Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden had another dispiriting qualifying session, qualifying 13th and back on row five. Next to him are Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri (Kaw), and Toni Elias on the second Gresini Honda.

MotoGP Qualifying:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:36.025

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:36.110

3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:36.393

4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:36.633

5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:36.760

6. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:36.953

7. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:37.194

8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:37.237

9. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:37.323

10. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:37.473

11. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 1:37.637

12. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 1:37.749

13. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:37.759

14. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:37.948

15. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:38.136

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.