Morbidelli fifth in weather-hit Assen qualifying
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli ended a rain disrupted Moto2 qualifying session at the legendary Assen track in a strong fifth position on the grid.
The Italian rider was building up to a front row challenge after setting a fastest lap of 1.38.544 before typically unpredictable weather conditions in northern Holland had a major impact on the 45-minute session.
Just over 20 minutes remained when rain showers started to fall on parts of the 4.5km track, which prevented any of the 27-rider field from improving their pace in the final stages.
Morbidelli was less than 0.1s away from claiming his first front row start of the 2016 Moto2 World Championship, but his impressive speed in the dry ensured he secured a fifth top five grid position in eight races this season.
Álex Márquez will start tomorrow’s 24-lap race, which marks the 86th running of the world renowned Dutch TT, from 13th position on the grid.
Márquez quickly found the fast pace that placed him fourth on the timesheets yesterday and a time of 1.39.337 put him immediately in contention for the top 10.
The Spaniard was the first rider to switch to slick tyres in a session that commenced on a rapidly drying surface after rain had fallen during the earlier Moto3 and MotoGP sessions.
The 20-year-old was confident he could fight for a place inside the top six but was thwarted when the rain intervened again shortly after the halfway stage.
Franco Morbidelli: 5th – 1’38.544
“That was quite a complicated qualifying session and the conditions were quite tricky at the beginning. I have been fast in the full dry and also in the mixed conditions I was able to post competitive times. The track was dry when I did my best time but you still had to pay attention because the kerbs were still quite slippery from the rain. I’m confident I can be fighting for third place in the race tomorrow. To fight with Zarco and Lüthi I’ll need to find two or three tenths and they have been very fast. I will work closely with the team tonight to see where we can reduce the gap and hopefully get in the battle tomorrow. Hopefully the race will be dry but I feel prepared to put up a strong challenge in the wet also.”
Álex Márquez: 13th – 1’39.337
“The conditions were very difficult in qualifying but I still think our strategy was the perfect one. We started with slick tyres and on the lap I tried to improve I almost had a big high-side coming out of turn nine. Soon after that the rain returned and it leaves me in 13th position, which I definitely don’t think truly reflects out true potential this weekend. We have been strong in practice and now I hope the conditions are good tomorrow for the fans and for the show.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“The weather made it a difficult session and it made the choice of strategy not an easy one. Franco started on wets and Álex on slicks and probably the latter was the best choice because we lost two or three laps on track while changing tyres for Franco when the track was dry. Franco also caught some traffic on his fast lap but he was very close to the front row and he’s had the pace all weekend to make us confident he can fight for the podium. It’s a shame that Álex is only on the fifth row because yesterday he was competitive and close to the top three. Hopefully he can be aggressive at the start and get himself in the hunt for a top six finish.”