Reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner rolled out of his garage at the end of qualifying at Assen this afternoon following a brief rain shower, shrugged off his crash from this morning and blitzed to pole position, going more than half a second faster than the pack before being pegged back by team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
The Australian leapt from mid-pack to fifth on the Bridgestone soft tyre before banging in a 1’33.713, then six-tenths faster than Jorge Lorenzo before Pedrosa came back at him with a 1’33.828 while the Yamaha man also improved with his last flier, bagging the final front-row spot with a 1’34.001, all set within the space of four minutes.
Although Stoner put in a shattering time, Lorenzo remains favourite for the race as his pace on the harder-compound Bridgestone is consistently in the mid 1’34s and he only used a soft to try and catch the Repsol Hondas.
Another late charge saw the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl hop to the head of row two and deposing the Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow, who is a little over three quarters of a second off the pace, and the works M1 of Ben Spies. Andrea Dovizioso, on the second satellite Monster bike, is seventh.
Alvaro Bautista crashed at session end and will start from eighth, just ahead of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, who will be disappointed after showing such one-lap promise in free practice yesterday. The pair had work to do on tyre life and tomorrow will see anything comes to fruition.
Randy De Puniet has re-taken control of the CRT grid with Aleix Espargaro second and Michele Pirro third. James Ellison is 19th with Colin Edwards again last.
Casey Stoner has spent the weekend so far trying, and failing, to make the hard Brigestone tyre work. He did only eight fast laps in qualifying, the last couple of the soft tyre, so it is hard to make a call on how his race pace is but Stoner is Stoner.
What isn’t difficult is to say that Jorge Lorenzo is by far and away the favourite for this race. He put down 15 fast laps in qualifying and marked his dominance with 11 of those in the 1’34s bracket, mostly on the hard tyre on which he will race.
Dani Pedrosa, meanwhile, has done the opposite to his team-mate, working with the soft tyre and putting in seven 1’34s and his last fast one of 1’33.828. Stefan Bradl did four in the 1’34s while Cal Crutchlow had a strange session, only doing nine laps with one in the 1’34s but his pace was consistent yesterday.
Ben Spies has two in the 1’34s while Andrea Dovizioso isn’t to be ruled out of a podium spot, putting down five 1’34s laps. Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden are both circulating in the 1’35s.