MotoGP > MotoGP 2007 Round 09: Netherlands GP > Qualifying
MotoGPNetherlandsJune 29, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 09
Netherlands Grand Prix at Assen Qualifying

Rain Makes Qualifying Hard Work In Holland

Race Results >>

With just this one hour of timed qualifying in the premier class, this rain-soaked hour assumed massive significance and in a driving downpour along the sinuous 4.555km of the Circuit van Drenthe it was Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) who took pole from Casey Stoner (Ducati) with Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) third fastest man.



Marco MELANDRI (Team Honda Gresini)


Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)

Conditions were truly treacherous this afternoon with the track at a cold 16 degrees and ambient temperature at 14 degrees. Although the morning session was dry, sheeting rain fell for the afternoon qualifying sessions and the 800cc MotoGP machines were more than a handful on a waterlogged track.

Stoner was the first man to begin reeling off a series of laps as Vermeulen and then Kurtis Roberts (Roberts KR212V) splashed out of pitlane to sample the slippery tarmac. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) then put in a 1m 56.347s time to go top in the early stages of the hour-long session.

And it was a critical session – unlike the 250cc and 125cc classes, MotoGP riders have just this one session to achieve their best lap for grid position at the start. And even though the weather forecast for tomorrow’s 26-lap is dry, the grid would be decided in this deluge. There is also the possibility that the forecast might change making wet set-up in this session of paramount importance.

Stoner soon began to up the pace recording a 1m 54.667s time and then improving to 1m 51.054s. But Dani was soon to better the Australian’s with a 1m 50.132s time. There is little doubt that Pedrosa is now a wet weather rider of some substance.

The rain temporarily abated towards the halfway point of the hour, but almost as soon as it momentarily cleared, the heavens opened again and any thoughts riders may have had of a semi-dry line appearing were washed away.

As the rest of the field began to up their pace, Stoner responded by notching up a 1m 48.661s time, just 11 seconds slower than his best time from Thursday in the dry. John Hopkins (Suzuki) put in a 1m 50.227s time to go third while his team-mate Vermeulen achieved a 1m 49.436s to snatch second.

With 15 minutes left Dani lay fifth and his team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) was the ninth fastest man on track with a best time of 1m 50.581s. Conditions were such that even former World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was labouring in 15th spot.

With five minutes left on the clock Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) began to find some speed and moved up to 11th place. But his final effort in the final minute was a masterly demonstration of the Italian’s determination as he sped to the third fastest time. But he was deprived of a front row start by a last gasp effort from de Puniet.

Melandri’s Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) will not be riding for some months after breaking the femur in his left leg in a crash yesterday. The genial Spaniard is aiming to be back for the Czech Grand Prix at Brno at the end of August, but this will depend of the rapidity of his recovery.

Marco in fourth said: “This morning I was second from last in the standings after practice and now I have my best qualifying position of the year – I just missed the front row. But we need to improve our dry set up because it’s difficult to control engine braking and power delivery in the dry. Normally I would prefer to race in dry conditions but tomorrow I hope for rain if I’m to get a good result.”

Dani Pedrosa, who ended the session ninth fastest, said: “We couldn’t get the position we wanted in qualifying today so a good start tomorrow is going to be essential. This morning when it was dry we were working on set-up and tyre choice but I wasn’t particularly comfortable with the changes and I wasn’t able to go quicker than I did yesterday, so our settings are not perfect yet. We’ll have to focus on what we learned today, try to improve the bike in the warm-up tomorrow morning and see what the weather throws at us in the afternoon.”

Hayden finished up 13th quickest and said: “All weekend I haven’t been below third in any session and then the skies opened up for us – it was really wet out there. I got going at a decent pace mid-session but then at the end I tried a different tyre and it really didn’t give me a good feeling and that’s when the track was probably at its best. I had no feel on the straights and it was just spinning a lot there. It really sucks because we’ve got a pretty good dry race set-up and to start thirteenth is going to make things tough.”

Kurtis Roberts, 14th on the grid, said: “It would have been nice to be a couple of spots up. We got all our signals crossed with about seven minutes to go. I'd gone out with 15 minutes left when it rained a lot more. I was just trying to feel my way round and get confidence when I got the in board. I’m still trying to get used to the rain. Now we seem at least to be able to race with the next five or so guys ahead of us in the wet, so that’d be nicer than racing with the four guys behind me.”

Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) qualified 15th. He said: “The weather conditions are like England again! We changed front and rear suspension settings this morning in the dry and my rhythm and consistency was getting better and the feeling with the bike was improving but the conditions worsened for this afternoon and we had a wet qualifying session. I hope it’s a dry race tomorrow and I’ll need a very good start from 15th as it’s difficult to overtake at Assen.”

Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V) faces a sixth row start in 16th. The Spanish rider said: “I was hoping for a dry day but like at Donington last week I have zero feeling in the rain, especially at the rear, I cannot lean the bike in the turns and it’s difficult to open the throttle. There’s a gap to the leading group so clearly I’m hoping for a dry race in the hope we can make some progress in normal conditions. In these conditions it is not possible to push for a faster time.”

In the 250cc class rain hampered riders’ attempts to improve on their times from Thursday and so the grid order will be Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) on pole, with his erstwhile antagonist Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda RS250RW) alongside him as second fastest qualifier. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) was third quickest and Hiro Aoyama (KTM) completing the front row as fourth best qualifier.

Dovisioso is 0.7 seconds shy of the pole time while Julian Simon (Repsol Honda RS250RW), the next best Honda qualifier in ninth is 1.6 seconds adrift of Lorenzo’s marker. Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) qualified 14th and Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda RS250RW) 15th. All these riders will move up one grid place though, because the injured Thomas Luthi (Aprilia), who qualified ahead of them, will not ride tomorrow.

Dovizioso said: “Today was good in the very wet conditions and I’m OK if the race is held in same conditions. The race rhythm is unbelievably high and if it’s dry in the warm-up tomorrow we need to work on the settings because we need to find a little more front-end stability. We also lack a little rear grip and we need to fix it because I have to get on the throttle really fast off the corners to stay with the fast riders. But we have had this rear grip problem before during the season so we have some solutions.”

Simon said: “The qualifying session was not so good for me. At the beginning of the session I had a good feeling with the bike in the wet conditions but I came into the pits to change tyres to a harder compound and after that the feeling was not very good. We have a little work to do on the suspension but that's about all. The engine is good and if I find better suspension settings then I will have a good race. Of course I would prefer a dry race but I will be ready if it's wet.”

Aoyama said: “Not so bad – in the wet conditions the track had much more grip than at Donington last week. At the beginning I took it easy for two laps to get a feel for the wet track conditions then set good lap times. The bike is working really well and the only problem I have is with front-end feeling in the dry, so I hope for a wet race tomorrow.”

Takahashi said: “Not so bad with the set-up we have we didn’t have to change much from the Donington Park race of last weekend. We have worked a little on the balance of he bike and improved I found a good rhythm after a few laps. The engine was good and I felt good on the bike. In the wet conditions this afternoon I didn’t have a good feeling. I just hope we have a dry race tomorrow.”

With the weather preventing any 125cc rider from bettering his time from Thursday’s session, the order remained unchanged from the first day of qualifying. Most riders ventured out in the soaking murk if only to achieve a workable wet set-up if the promised dry conditions for tomorrow’s 22-lap race.

The grid order is therefore: Mattia Pasini on pole with a best time of 1m 45.603s, Lukas Pesek on a Derbi second fastest, Simone Corsi third fastest and Sergio Gadea completing the front row (all Aprilia). The best Honda qualifier is Mike di Meglio (Scot Honda RS125R) in 16th with a time of 1m 47.568s – 1.965s off the pole time.

Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) was involved in a heavy crash yesterday with Aprilia rider Andrea Iannone and the British rider suffered breaks to bones in his left foot and left hand. He will not ride tomorrow. His team-mate Esteve Rabat (Repsol Honda RS125R) qualified 19th.

Di Meglio, who crashed yesterday, said: “When I crashed out, I braked hard and the bike lost adhesion at the rear. Anyway the session was good, I’m the faster in wet but despite this I hope tomorrow doesn’t rain because we are OK with bike in the dry. I know I can have a good race tomorrow and I hope to manage a top ten finish.”



Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)


Shinya NAKANO (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)

MotoGP:

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 4th.
“This morning I was second from last in the standings after practice and now I have my best position of the year – I just missed the front row. But we need to improve our dry set up because it’s difficult to control engine braking and power delivery in the dry. Normally I would prefer to race in dry conditions but clear but just in case we don't manage to sort the bike out for the dry then given the choice right now I'd prefer rain."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 9th.
"We couldn't get the position we wanted in qualifying today so a good start tomorrow is going to be essential. This morning when it was dry we were working on set-up and tyre choice but I wasn't particularly comfortable with the changes and I wasn't able to go quicker than I did yesterday, so our settings are not perfect yet. Then in the afternoon the conditions were changing a lot. I could go quite quickly at first but we struggled to find a
tyre and settings that worked well in the wet. So we'll have to focus on what we learned today, try to improve the bike in the warm-up tomorrow morning and see what the weather throws at us in the afternoon."

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 13th.
"All weekend I haven't been below third in any session and then the skies opened up for us - it was really wet out there. Thirteenth is not a good result for us obviously. I got going at a decent pace mid-session but then at the end I tried a different tyre and it really didn't give me a good feeling and that's when the track was probably at its best. I had no feel on the straights and it was just spinning a lot there. It really sucks because we've got a pretty good dry race set-up and to start thirteenth is going to make things tough. So I really hope it doesn't rain tomorrow and that I can get a great start and see what happens."

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: 14th.
“It would have been nice to be a couple of spots up. We got all our signals crossed with about seven minutes to go. I’d gone out with 15 minutes left when it rained a lot more. I was just trying to feel my way round and get confidence when I got the in board, and we went back to the tyre I’d done the first half of a session on. I just had one lap left. I tried to hang it out a bit without busting my ass. I’m still trying to get used to the rain feel. The biggest thing is getting through all the years of other tyres and their warning signals of when you’re going to fall off. These tyres are much better. You think about these things, and you go faster the next lap, and it keeps going. The bike worked great. I’d prefer it to be wet. Now we seem at least to be able to race with the next five or so guys ahead of us in the wet, so that’d be nicer than racing with the four guys behind me.”

Kenny Roberts Snr. – Team Principle
“I think it’s going good. Obviously there’s a lot of confusion with what tyres we’re getting, for different periods within practice, but I thought that if we’d had another lap or two he’d have been quite a bit further up. And we’re not that far behind now, so it’s starting to work. Kurtis has done a great job. We need one more session. We put on Kenny’s second tyre, and he had one lap. I said, Man you’ve got to do it. And he went out and did it.”

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 15th.
“The weather conditions are like England again! We changed front and rear suspension settings this morning in the dry and my rhythm and consistency was getting better and the feeling with the bike was improving but the conditions worsened for this afternoon and we had a wet qualifying session. During the first part of qualifying things were not so not bad as I was inside the top 10, but then it stopped raining and it began to dry again and in these changing conditions I found it hard to push hard and the rear was spinning up a lot. When the rain came once more I couldn’t improve on my lap-time and other people had gone faster in the drying conditions. I hope it’s a dry race tomorrow and I’ll need a very good start from 15th as it’s difficult to overtake at Assen.”

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 16th.
"I was hoping for a dry day but like at Donington last week I have zero feeling in the rain, especially at the rear, I cannot lean the bike in the turns and it is difficult to open the throttle. There is a gap to the leading group so clearly I'm hoping for a dry race in the hope we can make some progress in normal conditions. In these conditions it is not possible to push for a faster time."

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: wns
Tony Elias will not start the race due to a broken left femur sustained in a crash in practice on Friday."I'm better although I didn't sleep much last night because they had to wake me every two hours to administer medicine. But I don't feel too bad and I just can't wait to get home to Barcelona and start my rehabilitation as soon as possible. I want to say thanks to Doctor Costa and all the Clinica Mobile staff for their continuing support."


250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Kopron Scot Honda: 2nd.
“Today was good in the very wet conditions and I’m OK if the race is held in same conditions. The race rhythm is unbelievably high and if it’s dry in the warm up tomorrow we need to work on the settings because we need to find a little more front end stability. We also lack rear grip and we need to fix it because I have to get on the throttle really fast off the corners to stay with the fast riders. But we have had this rear grip problem before during the season so we have some solutions.”

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda: 9th.
“The qualifying session was not so good for me. At the beginning of the session I had a good feeling with the bike in the wet conditions but I came into the pits to change tyres to a harder compound and after that the feeling was not very good. We have a little work to do on the suspension but that’s about all. The engine is good and if I find better suspension settings then I will have a good race. Of course I would prefer a dry race but I will be ready if it’s wet.”

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 14th.
“Not so bad – in the wet conditions the track has much more grip than at Donington last week. At the beginning I took it easy for two laps to get a feel for the wet track conditions then set good lap times. The bike is working really well and the only problem I have is with front end feeling in the dry, so I hope for a wet race tomorrow.”

Yuki Takahashi, Kopron Scot Honda: 15th.
“Not so bad with the set up we have we didn’t have to change much from the Donington Park race of last weekend. We have worked a little on the balance of he bike and improved I found a good rhythm after a few laps the engine was god and I felt good on the bike. In the wet conditions this afternoon I did not have a good feeling and this is difficult to understand because I usually feel OK in the wet conditions. I just hope we have a dry race tomorrow. ”

Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT-SAG: 17th.
"Despite the poor weather, I felt pretty good during the free practice session, I got more comfortable with track. In the afternoon I just couldn't take any risk because the track conditions and therefore the level of tyre grip changed throughout the session. The most important was to get some mileage in the wet and collect some data which could be useful tomorrow if it rains."

Eugene Laverty, LCR Honda: 21st.
"I would prefer a dry race because I think I have the potential to be faster with some set-up changes we wanted to make from yesterday. But the weather spoilt that chance today and then as the track dried out late in the session my wet set-up was unsuitable for the conditions."

125cc.

Mike Di Meglio, Kopron Scot Honda: 16th
“I crashed in that sessio, I just braked to lat into the turn and went down. I am OK and the bike was not damaged too much. I hope for dry conditions for the race because our dry set up is very good. The bike I have for tomorrow is good enough to better my sixth place at Donington last week.”

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda: 17th.
“I’ve calmed down a lot compared to the previous races. In the dry qualifying session yesterday, I started off on a good pace and was eleventh fastest halfway through the session. We put new rubber in the closing stages and I didn¹t feel as confident. On top of that several riders got in my way in one of my fast laps. We worked late last night with the whole team, to optimise my riding style, because I need to improve the corner entries to be able to exit faster. In the dry this morning things worked out well and I was regularly in the top twelve. In the rain this afternoon I just rode without asking myself too many questions, and I’m satisfied with 10th given the conditions. The forecast is very changeable for tomorrow, it’s difficult to make a guess. But with all the work and effort we¹re giving, it has to pay off one day!”

Tito Rabat, Repsol Honda: 19th.
“My bike was much better today than yesterday, the engine is fast and the only problem I have is some small suspension set up work to do before the warm up. The weather was against us in the afternoon there was no point pushing at 100% in the conditions I didn’t want to crash and ruin my race. There was too much rain and I could not improve my qualifying time and grid position of yesterday.”

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 22nd.
“In the morning free practice I was not at all I was only 0.22 seconds slower than my best time of yesterday but I am 31st on the grid. I am really frustrated because in the wet qualifying session I was 13th fastest and I could be aggressive in the wet conditions. I was also 22nd in the dry yesterday so tomorrow, wet or dry, I hope to score points. I have to get with the fast group and hold on.”

Danny Webb, Molenaar Honda: 30th.
”Practice was OK my position on the grid is not so good but I improved my time again so I’m quite pleased about that. Yesterday I followed Tito Rabat and set good times he had the fastest bike through the speed trap and I was second fastest so the bike is very good, it was also fast in the wet conditions. I set my fastest lap riding alone so I’m happy with that. In the wet session this afternoon I didn’t have much feel so if it’s wet for he warm up we have to work on the suspension to find more feeling.”

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: wns.
Bradley Smith will not start the race due to crash in practice that resulted in broken bones in his left hand and left foot..


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 09
Netherlands Grand Prix at Assen

line
MotoGP
1 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
2 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
3 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
4 Marco MELANDRI (Team Honda Gresini)
5 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
6 Colin EDWARDS (Fiat Yamaha Team)
7 Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team)
8 Alex HOFMANN (Pramac d'Antin)
9 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
10 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
11 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
12 Alex BARROS (Pramac d'Antin)
13 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
14 Kurtis ROBERTS (Team Roberts)
15 Shinya NAKANO (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)
16 Carlos CHECA (Honda LCR)
17 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
DNQ Makoto TAMADA (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
DNQ Toni ELIAS (Team Honda Gresini)
 
250cc
1 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Scot Honda)
3 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
4 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 250)
5 Hector BARBERA (Team Toth Aprilia)
6 Thomas LUTHI (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
7 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
8 Marco SIMONCELLI (Metis Gilera)
9 Julian SIMON (Repsol Honda 250)
10 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM 250)
14 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda 250)
15 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Kopron Scot Honda)
 
125cc
1 Mattia PASINI (Polaris World)
2 Lukas PESEK (Valsir Seedorf Derbi)
3 Simone CORSI (Skilled Racing Team)
4 Sergio GADEA (Bancaja Aspar)
5 Sandro CORTESE (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
6 Gabor TALMACSI (Bancaja Aspar)
7 Hector FAUBEL (Bancaja Aspar)
8 Raffaele DE ROSA (Multimedia Racing)
9 Stefan BRADL (Blusens Aprilia)
10 Michael RANSEDER (Ajo Motorsport)
 

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