MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013
Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez returned to his front-row qualifying form in a difficult final session at Assen, bouncing back from a heavy crash in the morning. The 20-year-old MotoGP class rookie took pole position after the flag had fallen at the end of the session … only to be displaced to second by the following Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha).
Repsol Honda RC213V team-mate Dani Pedrosa ended up fifth, in the middle of the second row. The Spanish World Championship leader was forced to sit out the second half of the session after slipping off unhurt, but with no time to rejoin on his spare bike.
This left the second-best Honda position to LCR Honda RC213V rider Stefan Bradl, who seemed to have set his first pole as the flag fell, only to be knocked to third on the far end of the front row by Crutchlow and Marquez, travelling in his wake. It is the German former Moto2 champion’s first time on the front row, in his second year in the premier class.
Typical Assen weather has bedevilled both days of practice, with intermittent light showers keeping temperatures low and now and then sprinkling parts of the 4.54-km circuit. Unpredictable grip levels and the classic circuit’s fast and technically challenging layout led to a number of crashes.
One of the first to go was the main title challenger to the Repsol Honda pair, Jorge Lorenzo, who broke his collarbone in a high-speed crash in free practice on Thursday afternoon. The Yamaha rider had surgery within 12 hours, and may be able to start tomorrow’s race if track doctors give him medical clearance.
This morning reigning Moto2 champion Marquez added his name to the growing crash list, suffering a fractured finger and other minor injuries in a bruising high-side crash. He admitted pain had been a problem in the afternoon, crediting his second-fastest time to the performance of his MotoGP Honda.
Pole position went to British rider Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), his first.
Pedrosa, on pole here last year, was finally caught out by the slippery surface after setting fastest time in the first part of the crucial final 15-minute qualifying session. He was unhurt but his bike was too damaged to ride back to the pits. By the time he got back to the pit box it was too late to take his spare bike to defend his position, and he had to watch powerless as four riders went faster.
Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) qualified eighth, in the middle of the third row of the grid. The Spanish former 125cc World Champion combines his role as satellite-team racer with the important role of suspension development tester: he is the only rider on the grid to use Japanese Showa suspension.
Australian grand prix rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) placed his Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike 19th, hoping that prior track knowledge (a rarity for the first-timer) will help to improve his position, after scoring his first World Championship points two weeks ago.
Honours in the all-Honda powered Moto2 class went to Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex), who was dominant throughout. His third pole this season was by the narrowest of margins at the end – less than a tenth of a second, with the opposition stacked up close, and no less than 21 riders qualified within the space of one second from pole.
Second on the grid – his second front row of the year – was Frenchman Johann Zarco (Came Ioda Racing Project Suter); while the final front row starter will be championship leader Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex). The other leading player, Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) leads the second row after challenging strongly throughout practice.
Redding has a handsome 35-point lead in the class, where a variety of specialist chassis are used, but all competitors use identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines supplied by the organisers, to ensure close and reliable racing. Espargaro and Rabat are chasing the Briton down after he had scored consecutive wins in France and Italy, with both turning the tables in Catalunya two weeks ago, where Redding finished fourth in the race.
Spaniard Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) came through to head a close pack of Hondas in the Moto3 class, where Honda is up against rival factories, with some motors in production-racing chassis and others in specialist prototype chassis.
With Vinales eighth overall, in the middle of row three, the next-best Honda was two places but less than two tenths of a second slower. It was the GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda rider Niccolo Antonelli, himself two places clear of Alexis Masbou’s Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda.
Masbou headed a phalanx of Hondas, with Alan Techer (CIP TSR Honda), Jack Miller (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) filling the next three grid positions.
Rain threatened throughout two days of practice and qualifying, and sometimes fell. Reliably changeable conditions at the circuit in the north of The Netherlands have riders in all classes wondering what the morrow will bring.
|1||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|4||Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)|
|9||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|10||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|11||Michele PIRRO (Ignite Pramac Racing)|
|12||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|13||Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)|
|14||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Blusens)|
|15||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|1||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)|
|2||Johann ZARCO (Came Iodaracing Project)|
|3||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti HP 40)|
|5||Xavier SIMEON (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq)|
|6||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|7||Mattia PASINI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|8||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|9||Mike DI MEGLIO (JiR Moto2)|
|10||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|11||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|12||Simone CORSI (NGM Mobile Racing)|
|13||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|14||Marcel SCHROTTER (Desguaces La Torre SAG)|
|15||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|1||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|2||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|3||Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)|
|4||Luis SALOM (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|5||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|6||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|7||Niklas AJO (Avant Tecno)|
|8||Isaac VIÑALES (Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|9||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|10||Niccolò ANTONELLI (GO & FUN Gresini Moto3)|
|11||Jasper IWEMA (RW Racing GP)|
|12||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|13||Alan TECHER (CIP Moto3)|
|14||Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology - RTG)|
|15||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (GO & FUN Gresini Moto3)|