In baking hot Assen, Marc Marquez needed only three laps to improve on his own best time of the weekend and get a second ahead of the field, in a familiar display. While he was doing more of his “testing the limits” brand of riding on hard tyres, rivals caught up and Dovizioso snuck ahead by two thousandths of a second halfway through the session. The Italian was circling on a used hard rear as well and he put it to good use to reel in red sectors after red sectors.
It all changed when the final time attack arrived with eight minutes left of the session but Marquez was not concerned about Q2 and did not play along, preferring to put the used hard tyre through its paces. Nonetheless, the Spaniard was still posing personal best times despite his rubber being past its prime and surely causing some worried faces down pitlane, when looking at his race pace.
The first to make a significant move in the shootout was Maverick Viñales, the Yamaha man grabbing the lead in the final three minutes, when a handful of riders dropped to 1:33s on soft rubber. Andrea Iannone was the next to improve, only a tenth of a second behind the lead Spaniard, with Danilo Petrucci adding a Ducati another three tenths down.
Valentino Rossi snuck his way into the top four, less than a tenth of a second keeping the Italian ahead of Cal Crutchlow, Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo. While he was otherwise engaged, Marquez dropped to eighth position, with Alex Rins also failing to improve in the final charge. Meanwhile, Johann Zarco snuck back into the top ten on his final flying lap, with his second hand leathers bearing the signs of his late tumble through turn nine. That left Dani Pedrosa three hundredths of a second back and leaving it to Saturday to ensure his Q2 rite of passage.