The following is from Repsol Honda... Repsol Honda RC212V rider Dani Pedrosa was in dazzling form at Assen this afternoon, ending up just 0.032 seconds off pole position. Team-mate Nicky Hayden also enjoyed a strong qualifying session, the American fourth quickest, just 0.455 seconds off pole. Pedrosa and Hayden were also impressive in this morning’s practice session, run on a damp and drying track, ending the outing in first and third positions. This afternoon’s conditions were dry but blustery, Pedrosa’s final lap taking him to a tantalisingly close to pole-sitter Casey Stoner. Hayden, using the pneumatic-valve RCV engine for the second race, might have done even better if he had had time to use his final qualifying tyre. He also lost some time on his fastest lap when John Hopkins crashed just in front of him as they attacked the high-speed Ramshoek left-hander in the closing stages of the hour-long outing. Tomorrow’s 60th Assen World Championship TT is the ninth race of the 2008 season and the halfway point in the 18-race campaign. Dani Pedrosa, 2nd fastest, 1m 35.552s “I’m very happy with this afternoon’s result, especially because this will be the first time I’ve started from the front row in MotoGP at Assen. The first part of the track is very tight, so it is really important to start from the front row here. Casey will try to escape from the pack at the start, which means it will be crucial to get a good start and try to stay in contact. We still have some improvements to make. This is a very complex track for set-up and we need to try some small changes to help make me feel at ease on the bike because the pace is going to be very fast tomorrow. Once again the weather has played a part, this morning’s rain meant that we couldn’t do any proper work with slicks, so we aren’t yet 100 per cent sure about our race tyre choice. If it rains again tomorrow, the race will be more complicated.” Nicky Hayden, 4th fastest, 1m 35.975s “This morning the bike was working quite good in the wet and on intermediates. That session sucked for learning much about the dry but I got some good experience out there on intermediates front and rear and it felt quite good, I was able to stay out and get a good feel for it. This afternoon seemed to go so quick. We tried a couple of little things on the front, but after the first run we had to go back to what we had before because the changes helped in some areas but overall they made it worse. We started putting our qualifiers and then I had an issue with the clutch which lost us some time in the tyre changes, so ultimately I didn’t get to use my last qualifier, so we had one bullet left in the chamber that we didn’t use. The Michelin qualifiers were working awesome round here, every one we put in I kept getting faster, so it would’ve been fun to fire the last one in there. It’s going to be a hard race tomorrow, I’m not making no predictions, we’ll see what we can do, go for the best result we can.” Kazuhiko Yamano - Team Manager “Both riders did a very good job today, both of them in the top four in both sessions, so my thanks to them and to the team. I think they have both got their machines working very well round here. The start is extra important at this track, so it is great news to have both our riders on the front two rows. Their race pace isn’t so bad, but we know tomorrow won’t be easy because there are many strong riders out there. As always, we will challenge for the win.” The following is from Yamaha... Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi took his fifth front row start of the 2008 season at Assen today, ahead of tomorrow’s 60th Dutch TT. The Italian missed out on pole by just 0.139 seconds and will share the front row with Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, his closest championship rivals. The bright sunshine of yesterday gave way to bad weather this morning and the first session was run on a wet track, with Rossi finishing seventh. The sun came out after lunch and the track was dry for qualifying, giving the team some time to continue with yesterday’s work and refine their dry set-up. During the last third of the session Rossi was able to improve with each of his Bridgestone qualifying tyres and looked to be in with a chance of pole on his final flying lap, when a small problem in the final sector lost him his advantage. Second place behind Stoner looked secure until a last-minute dash from Pedrosa relegated him to the outside of the front row, with his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo two rows behind him in seventh. Rain is a possibility tomorrow and with the weather at Assen generally changing extremely quickly, the team may have to wait until just before the race to make a final tyre decision. Tomorrow’s 26-lap race will begin at 1400 CET. Valentino Rossi Position: 3rd Time: 1'35.659 Laps: 29 “Like always, the front row is our target and so we are happy with this third position. Anyway it’s better than last year, when I was 11th! We made some small modifications with the qualifying tyre and today everything seemed to work very well. Now we hope that it will translate to the race tyre, although of course we have to wait and see what the weather is like before we can make a choice, things change so quickly here! I was able to try for pole and I thought it was possible on the last lap, but unfortunately I had a small problem with the last tyre. Today we were all very close, closer than yesterday, but I think we still need to improve a bit more if we’re going to be sure to be able to fight with Casey, so we will try to finalise things tomorrow morning.” Jorge Lorenzo finished his second day’s work in Assen in a somewhat happier mood than yesterday, after qualifying seventh for the 60th Dutch TT. The Fiat Yamaha Team rookie was struggling yesterday but a good run with his Michelin qualifying tyres this afternoon gave him confidence and he will start tomorrow’s race ten places higher than he started last Sunday’s in Donington. After yesterday’s troubles a wet session this morning was the last thing that Lorenzo and his team needed, and the Mallorcan was languishing down in 15th place after the rain-hit practice. The sun soon came out though and a strong wind helped to dry the track out, meaning that the team were able to try out a new dry setting in the first half of the afternoon session, which seemed to work well. Things improved even more with qualifying tyres; it was clear that Loren zo was in much better shape than last week and he will head the third row tomorrow, alongside Chris Vermeulen. Lorenzo’s team-mate Valentino Rossi managed to qualify third today and will be aiming to keep pace with championship rivals Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, in first and second respectively, when the lights go out at 1400 CET tomorrow. Jorge Lorenzo Position: 7th Time: 1'36.532 Laps: 26 “Today was a bit better than yesterday and I felt stronger, even if the improvement is still not what I hoped for since Donington. With race tyres we still have some problems, although it was better than yesterday with a new setting, but with my Michelin qualifying tyres I was able to push more and seventh is not so bad for us today. The front riders are very fast here and we know that to stay with them is going to be very difficult, but I have more confidence today and so I hope that I can be at least in the top seven. If I can do this I will be happy. We still have to go step-by-step and if I can improve a bit again tomorrow then I hope to be able to push more within the next two or three races.” The following is from Suzuki... Chris Vermeulen will start from the third row for tomorrow’s Dutch TT at Assen, after qualifying his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R in eighth place during this afternoon’s session. Vermeulen (1’36.768, 25 laps) lost a lot of valuable set-up time during this morning’s final free practice session due to a wet but drying track, following heavy overnight rain. He worked very hard during the qualifying to make up for the lost time and was pleased with the steps taken when it came to using his Bridgestone qualifying tyres to decide his starting position for tomorrow’s 26-lap race. Vermeulen will be Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s sole representative on the grid for the Dutch Grand Prix following Loris Capirossi’s crash yesterday that has sidelined the experienced Italian with a puncture wound to his right inner forearm. Capirossi was present at the circuit today to support the team and will remain at Assen until tomorrow’s race. Suzuki’s Italian star is already making a good recovery from the operation he had yesterday to repair the injury and is planning to make a comeback at Sachsenring in Germany next month. Today’s qualifying was held in dry, but overcast conditions, reigning World Champion Casey Stoner will start from pole position with championship leader Valentino Rossi in second. Tomorrow’s race is the only Grand Prix on the calendar held on a Saturday and the lights will go out to signal the start at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT). Chris Vermeulen: “It was a difficult qualifying session because we had so much work to get through after losing so much time this morning. We had a lot of set-up changes that we wanted to try but it was too wet earlier and we lost a lot of time sitting in the garage just waiting to see what the weather was going to do - so really from the morning session we didn’t learn anything at all! In the qualifying session we got a little bit lost with set-up because we tried so many things, and in the end we went back to what we ran yesterday and that seemed to work well. My last couple of qualifying laps were pretty good and I managed to get on to the third row and scrape something out of the session. At least we are up there and if we get a good start and a strong first few laps, I think we can be competitive and fight for at least a top five finish.” Paul Denning – Team Manager: “This morning was really the same result for everyone - it was a waste of tyres and fuel because the weather never stayed consistent enough to get any meaningful information. The conditions were good enough this afternoon to see some amazing lap-times – especially from Casey on the Bridgestones. For Chris it was a difficult session and we never really achieved the rhythm that we hoped we’d be able to. However, right at the end he did a great job to get the GSV-R into the top-eight and on to the third row of the grid. The guys know exactly what is needed for the warm-up and race so hopefully we’ll be able to replicate that improvement and run a decent race-pace tomorrow, we know that Chris has great potential and that he is ultra hungry for a good result. “It was hard to see the number 65 bikes in the pit today, all dressed-up, but with nowhere to go! The good news is that Loris is in disappointed – but good – spirits and stayed to support the team today. He is full of energy and is eager to get back on the bike in Sachsenring in two weeks.” The following is from Ducati... Casey Stoner took his third pole position in a row at Assen and the thirteenth of his career today, as well as setting an impressive race pace once again. Morning rainfall and afternoon wind did not make life any easier for the Australian but he came on strongly at the end of the session to improve his best lap on each of his three qualifying tyres. During his last run on race tyres the antenna located near the finish line that sends data to the bike's transponder wasn't working; Casey could not see his lap times on his dash and they didn't show up on the circuit monitors. However the problem was quickly solved, and it was Stoner, Pedrosa and Rossi who would battle for pole in an exciting climax to the session, with the Ducati rider's final effort remaining just out of reach of his rivals. Marco Melandri was unable to improve his best lap time this afternoon and he starts from 17th place. CASEY STONER (Ducati MotoGP Team) "This afternoon was a lot windier than yesterday and the rain this morning meant that the track conditions weren't at their optimum: the front was pushing in a lot of corners where you really have to rely on it, so that made life ten times more difficult than it should be! Before we put the qualifiers in we had that problem with the lap time transmitter and I didn't know how fast I was going. Luckily Dorna managed to fix it before we put the qualifying tyres in and I was feeling confident, but the extra grip offered by the softer rear put even more pressure on the front and I almost lost it on several occasions during the last three laps. To have qualified on pole despite all those things is fantastic! The rain this morning also meant that we didn't get many laps in on slick race tyres today but that is the same situation for everybody and we did enough yesterday to be confident about tomorrow's race. This is my third pole position in a row so it shows the great job being done by everybody at Ducati and especially at Bridgestone, who have made great steps forward with their qualifying rubber this season so congratulations to them." MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati MotoGP Team) "I don't know what to say, other than that I am extremely disappointed to be in a position that doesn't correspond to my ability, or clearly that of the bike. We're all trying so hard but we just can't find a solution to our problems and it's going to be a very tough race tomorrow."

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