Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow added to what has been thus far a wild weekend at the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland with the first MotoGP pole position of his career, the Brit recording the fastest lap of the weekend on his final lap to become the first rider from the United Kingdom to sit on pole position in the premiere class in over a decade.
The last Brit to do so was Jeremy McWilliams, the Northern Irelander riding Kenny Roberts’ 500cc KR3 to pole at Phillip Island in 2002.
Throw in the fact that Marc Marquez ended the Qualifying 2 session second despite having suffered a broken right pinkie finger and broken right big toe in the morning session with the fact that Valentino Rossi had his best qualifying performance of the year in fourth with Stefan Bradl earning his first front-row start in MotoGP and you can see that things are brewing up nicely for tomorrow’s race.
And one other thing: Jorge Lorenzo had his collarbone surgery yesterday (a titanium plate and screws were used) and is currently flying back to Assen to “be with his team.” Will the defending World Champion attempt to ride? And if so will he be declared fit to ride? Those answers will come in morning warm-up tomorrow.
This afternoon’s Q2 session stared off with Aleix Espargaro taking the top spot for a few seconds. He was quickly displaced by the injured Marquez, but then Crutchlow put in a 1:36.613 on the dry track to take over at the top.
That also didn’t last long in a frantic session with Bradl improving to a 1:35.235 to move to first. Then Marquez pulled out a 1:35.226, followed by a 1:35.084 by Crutchlow.
Then Repsol Honda’s championship leader Dani Pedrosa took over, ripping off a 1:35.006 to lead the way. That also didn’t last as with six minutes to go Pedrosa lost the front of his RC213V and crashed out. He made it back to the pits in time to try for more on is back-up bike, but elected not to. It would cost him a front-row starting spot.
Rossi went to the top of the timesheets with less than five minutes to go, but that lasted for only a few seconds as Bradl trailed him across the line to take the top spot with the first sub-1:35 lap of the weekend – a 1:34.878. Then the checkered flag came out and it was up to Marquez and Crutchlow, with both riders doing what was expected. Marquez crossed the line with the best time, only to be outdone by Crutchlow almost immediately after – the Brit taking pole with his 1:34.398.
“It was good,” Crutchlow said. “I’m pleased with the qualifying position, obviously. But it’s not a true pole. Jorge [Lorenzo] wasn’t here and I would have liked to have a dogfight with him. Obviously, we will be able to do that when he returns and maybe for a race win later in the year. I’m pleased. We did a good job. Our setting is… we’re really struggling at the moment this weekend. I wasn’t happy in the Free Practice 4 at all. If we can make the bike a little more calmer and more toward our settings, there’s no reason why we won’t be able to go faster again. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. Congratulations to the guys on the front row and we’ll see what we can do.”
If Crutchlow’s performance wasn’t enough for Brits to fly the Union Jack proudly, his teammate Bradley Smith stepped up to qualify sixth – the best of his rookie MotoGP season.
Nicky Hayden, meanwhile, barely made it through to Q2 and ended up 10th in the session. He will start from the fourth row for tomorrow’s race.
1. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:34.398
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:34.755
3. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:34.878
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:34.974
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:35.006
6. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:35.454
7. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1:35.500
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:35.508
9. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1:35.622
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:35.908