Movistar Yamaha’s Rossi silenced the doubters by smashing Casey Stoner’s previous pole record from 2012 by over a second to claim his 61st career pole position. The nine-time World Champion set a 1’32.627, the fastest ever time on a motorbike around the 4.5km track.
With the sun breaking through the crowds and track temperatures reaching 38°C the scene was set for an epic Q2 at the legendary TT Circuit Assen, and the fans in the packed grandstands were not left disappointed. Rossi, who freely admits his qualifying performances have been his weakest link during a Grand Prix weekend, answered the critics in the best way possible to take his 51st premier-class pole position at the Motul TT Assen. The Italian had earlier finished on top of the combined timesheets after FP3 for the first time since the new two-tiered qualifying system came into place in 2013.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro (+0.231s), who had been forced to battle it out in Q1, just missed out on his second successive pole position and will start from second on the grid.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez (+0.259s), who had earlier topped FP4, led the session after the rider’s first stint on track, but eventually had to settle for third as he completes the front row. His teammate Dani Pedrosa (+0.360s) will start from the front of the second row, with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro (+0.386s) the leading Satellite rider in fifth.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (0.389s) qualified in sixth with Cal Crutchlow (CWM LCR Honda) just 0.012s further back in seventh. Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the man who trails the Italian by just one point in the Championship standings, will have to start the race from eighth. The man who has led across the line for 103 consecutive laps in the last four races, will have a job on his hands to make it 104 come Saturday’s race. Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the top ten.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), who made it through from Q1 just behind Aleix Espargaro, will start form eleventh with Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ending Q2 down in 12th.
Stefan Bradl (Athina Forward Racing) is the leading Open class rider and will start from the front of the 4th row in 13th, while Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Eugene Laverty are 16th and 19th on the grid respectively. Australian Jack Miller will start from 20th with Laverty’s teammate Nicky Hayden down in 22nd on the grid.
Just 0.609s separated the top 12 riders in Q2, with less than three-tenths between second placed Espargaro and Danilo Petrucci in 11th.