Lorenzo on Pole in Assen

Henny Ray Abrams | June 25, 2010

ASSEN, HOLLAND, JUNE 25: The dream season of Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo continues.The world championship leader scored his second pole in a row by setting the lap record on the slightly revised Circuit van Drenthe, the site of Saturday’s 80th Dutch TT.A number of different riders were at the top of the session for brief periods of time until Lorenzo went to the top in the 13th minute of the the hourlong qualifying session. Lorenzo held the spot for about 26 minutes when LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet went to the top.Eight minutes later Lorenzo went to the top with a lap of 1:34.686 that would have held up for the pole, but he lowered it with his final lap to a new circuit best lap of 1:34.515.The pole puts the Majorcan in the perfect position to try to score his fourth win of the season and extend his championship lead. Going into Sunday’s race, Lorenzo, who’s been on the podium in all five races, holds a 37-point championship lead over Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso.”I will try to win of course-this is not my really target, because my target is to finish the race and to try to get on the podium,” Lorenzo began, “but if it’s possible to win.”The only decision he had was which of the control Bridgestone rear tires to fit.Despite setting his fast time at the 38-minute mark, de Puniet held onto second to claim his second front row starting position in a row, and top Honda honors.”I hope to have a race like Silverstone [where he finished sixth at the back of a tight group],” de Puniet said, “but I hope to finish in front of the group, because last week [he had front tire problems the last two laps] it had a lot of movement.”De Puniet knew he didn’t have Lorenzo’s pace – “Jorge’s too fast, I think he will leave like Silverstone” – but his target will be the first satellite bike and to beat some of the factory bikes.Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner filled out the front row with a lap time only .06 of a second down on de Puniet’s best. The front-row start is Stoner’s fourth of the year and comes as he’s trying to secure his first podium of the season. His best finish to date is a fourth in Le Mans.Whether he could fight for the victory,” I don’t know. I mean, Jorge’s running some pretty good times,” Stoner said. “The last set-up we threw on the bike seemed to make quite an improvement.”This morning we were pretty happy, but this afternoon we never sort of reached where we wanted to. But we started having problems with the clutch. We had some air in the hydraulics and it just didn’t seem to working properly, so I was having to use a full pump of the clutch just to go back gears. Then the bike missed a gear, so we don’t really know what’s going on. So I did one qualifying lap, went to start my second and the bike made a massive backfire and with that many small things going on I just decided to call it quits. I don’t really want oil and everything like that spitting over the rear tire because there’s something wrong the engine. I hope there’s not. But it’s better to be safe than sorry and start the race tomorrow fresh.”Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies had a career day in qualifying, taking the fourth fastest time with a lap only .123 of a second down on Stoner’s. Spies, whose previous best qualifying effort was seventh, was consistently in the top six and laid down his fast lap at the very end of the session. He was running faster than Lorenzo’s pole-setting pace until the final split when he wasn’t able to maintain the momentum. Still, it’s his first time on the second row in his brief MotoGP career.Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden finished an eventful day with the fifth fastest time. Hayden crashed in morning practice and wasn’t able to get up to speed for most of qualifying. It was only at the very end that Hayden jumped up the order from tenth to fourth, then was knocked back to fifth by Spies.Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso spent much of the session in the top three, hoping for his first ever front row MotoGP start, but it wasn’t to be. He finished as the first rider in the 1:35s (1:35.015) and at the end of row two.One spot back was teammate Dani Pedrosa, his seventh place starting spot matching his worst of the season.Joining him on the second row are San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, the last rider on the lead second.Simoncelli’s teammate, Marco Melandri, didn’t take part in qualifying after dislocating his left shoulder in a Friday morning highside.”Stupid mistake, stupid crash, but big injury,” Melandri said. Earlier he’d said he didn’t know if he was going to ride because “it’s been like a very big crash and the shoulder goes out from behind, so this could be very dangerous riding.”


1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:34.515

2. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:34.797

3. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:34.803

4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:34.926

5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:34.999

6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:35.015

7. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:35.162

8. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:35.283

9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:35.393

10. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 1:35.593

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.