Results of qualifying for Moto3 at Assen:
Assen, The Netherlands
Valentino Rossi has ended a rain-disrupted final session of free practice to head into qualifying as the fastest man. FP3 was a session of two parts, with light rain chasing the pack back into the pits after the first quarter of an hour. It never rained enough to affect the track, but caution prevailed, leaving everyone to wait for the final 12 minutes or so before returning to the track to pursue a coveted spot in Q2.
Danny Kent has continued his reign in Moto3, but he is starting to be seriously challenged. Kent was fastest almost throughout the final session of free practice, but Romano Fenati closed the gap towards the very end. Making things more interesting, both Kent and Fenati set their quickest times on their own, without any help from a tow. The difference between the two was less than seven hundredths of a second.
Jorge Navarro was 3rd fastest, a third of a second behind Kent, while Alexis Masbou moved up to 4th.
If the Honda is so bad, why are two RC213Vs at the top of the timesheets? That seems like a very valid question, given the public struggles which all of the Honda riders have had with the bike this year. Has the 2014 chassis finally fixed the Honda's ailments? Is Márquez back?
If only it were that simple. Firstly, of course, Marc Márquez never went away. The double world champion still possesses a gargantuan talent, and the desire and will to use it. He was hampered by many aspects of the 2015 bike, including both the engine and the chassis. The 2015 chassis, he explained at Assen, was more precise and could be used more accurately. Unfortunately, the only way to get the best out of it was to ride it like every lap was a qualifying lap. That level of intensity is just not sustainable over race distance. At some point, you will make a mistake, and the 2015 chassis punishes mistakes mercilessly. So HRC have reverted to a hybrid version, using a 2014 chassis and the new swingarm which Márquez first tested at Le Mans. That works better for Márquez: he has been forced to sacrifice some precision, but at least now he has a chance to recover from mistakes.
The Dutch round of MotoGP, the Dutch TT at Assen, is to switch from Saturday to Sunday. From 2016, the event will surrender its unique status as the only MotoGP round to be held on Saturday, and fall in line with the rest of the MotoGP races. It will, however, remain on the last weekend of June, but will now be on the last Sunday, rather than the last Saturday of June.
After the chequered flag waved, Johann Zarco crossed the line with a 1'37.670, stealing the top spot from Simone Corsi who had held it for five minutes until the end. Sam Lowes, fastest in the morning and the only Speedup in the provisional front three rows, could only muster the third fastest time.
The top six were all within half a second of Zarco's time and the top 13 were all within a second of provisional pole.
Dani Pedrosa has topped the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Honda. The Repsol Honda rider was fast for much of the session, then set a very quick lap at the end of the session once the battle for Q2 commenced. Marc Marquez ended the session in 2nd, but he did so by setting a very quick lap early, despite having a major moment on a previous lap. Marquez is still visibly struggling to get the bike stopped, his Honda RC213V still sliding wildly and running wide into the first corner.
Danny Kent has kept up the pressure in the second session of free practice for the Moto3 class. The Leopard Racing rider upped his pace in the second half of the session to take control again, holding off challenges from the Italian hordes. Romano Fenati closed the gap to just over a quarter of a second, and well ahead of the two Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders, Jorge Navarro leading Fabio Quartararo.
Sam Lowes has ended the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class at the top of the time sheets, the Speed Up rider putting in a late charge to set the fastest lap. Lowes took over the top slot from Dominique Aegerter, who had in turn nudged his compatriot Tom Luthi off the top of the timesheets. Aegerter ended in 2nd, six hundredths behind Lowes, while Luthi was another tenth of a second behind Aegerter.