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Espargaro takes his first pole in MotoGP

2014-06-28 11:14


ALEIX ESPARGARO: First pole start for the 2014 Assen MotoGP. Image: Gallo

ASSEN, Netherlands - Spain's Aleix Espargaro took pole position for Saturday's Dutch MotoGP in difficult qualifying conditions, finishing ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez.

It is the first pole position for the Yamaha rider, who made his intentions clear on Thursday by setting a blistering fastest lap - the fastest yet recorded at the current Assen track.

Espargaro will be aiming to deny the apparently unstoppable Marc Marquez (Honda) a record eighth victory and the chance to stretch his perfect 175-point tally so far this season.


Typically unpredictable Dutch weather struck as the second group of racers set out for qualifying undedr a light shower. The changing conditions seemed to throw veteran Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) of Italy, currently second in the standings, 58 points behind Marquez.

Rossi could only manage 12th on the grid, meaning he'll start from Row 4 on Saturday and faces a mighty battle for a podium position.

Espargaro, who set a time of 1min38.789 on Friday, outpaced Marquez by a comfortable 1.405sec in the changing and difficult weather. Another Spaniard, long-time GP campaigner Dani Pedrosa, was third and 1.943sec off the pace.

Esparrgaro said: "I'm really happy, we have been waiting for this."

He agreed, however, that the unpredictable weather would mean "a very difficult race" on Saturday.

"I prefer it dry. (When dry) we have a very good pace."

Marquez also warned the weather could play a major role, with cloudy conditions predicted and the possibility of showers.

"We are hoping for dry conditions because that would be better," the reigning MotoGP champion said. "If it's wet, it will be very, very interesting."

Third-placed Pedrosa, a former 250cc champion, said riders were faced with tough choices between opting for wet or dry tyres.

"It's been a while since we've been riding on wet tyres," he Pedrosa. He won the first of his 47 GP races as a 16-year-old here at Assen in 2002.

Italy's Andrea Iannone will lead the second row, finishing fourth-fastest at 1.997sec for Ducati, with Britain's Cal Crutchlow on another Ducati alongside him at 2.007sec.

In Moto2, current leader Spain's Esteve Rabat took pole on a Kalex with a time of 1min37.311.

Rabat, who at 149 points is 34 points ahead of Finland's Mika Kallio and aiming for a third consecutive win, finished his fasted lap only 0.151sec ahead of Swiss racer Dominique Aegerter on a Suter.

Earlier, Australian championship leader Jack Miller sped to a fourth pole position in the Moto3 class with a time of 1min42.240.

Miller, who has so far notched up 117 points, finished his fastest lap 0.116 ahead of Spaniard Alex Marquez on a Honda.

Finnish rider Niklas Ajo on a Husqvarna was third on 1min42.430.

The Dutch TT is run on a Saturday instead of a Sunday because of religious reasons in the strongly Protestant Netherlands.

MotoGP qualifying
1 Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Yamaha) 1min38.789
2 Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) +1.405
3 Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) +1.943
4 Andrea Iannone (ITA/Ducati) +1.997
5 Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Ducati) +2.007
6 Bradley Smith (GBR/Yamaha) +2.029
7 Andrea Doviziozo (ITA/Ducati) +2.351
8 Stefan Bradl (GER/Honda) +3.193
9 Jorge Lorenzo (SPA/Yamaha) +3.470
10 Alvaro Bautista (SPA/Honda) +4.095
11 Pol Espargaro (SPA/Yamaha) +4.296
12 Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) +4.836

Moto2 qualifying
1 Esteve Rabat (SPA/Kalex) 1min37.311
2 Dominique Aegerter (SWI/Suter) +0.151sec
3 Sam Lowes (GBR/Speed Up) +0.363
4 Mika Kallio (FIN/Kalex) +0.388
5 Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Kalex) +0.565
6 Simone Corsi (ITA/Kalex) +0.582
7 Johan Zarco (FRA/Caterham Suter) +0.610
8 Maverick Vinales (SPA/Kalex) +0.649
9 Richard Cardus (SPA/Tech3) +0.716
10 Xavier Simeon (BEL/Suter) +0.732
11 Julian Simon (SPA/Kalex) +0.818
12 Mattia Pasini (ITA/Kalex) +0.836

Moto3 qualifying
1 Jack Miller (AUS/KTM) 1min42.240
2 Alex Marquez (SPA/Honda) +0.116sec
3 Niklas Ajo (FIN/Husqvarna) +0.190
4 Alex Masbou (FRA/Honda) +0.218
5 Niccolo Antonelli (ITA/KTM) +0.275
6 Alex Rins (SPA/Honda) +0.324
7 Isaac Vinales (SPA/KTM) +0.339
8 Karel Hanika (CZE/KTM) +0.342
9 Romano Fenati (ITA/KTM) +0.354
10 John McPhee (GBR/Honda) +0.490
11 Danny Kent (GBR/Husqvarna) +0.580
12 Enea Bastianini (ITA/KTM) +0.582
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