Morbidelli ready for Assen victory charge
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS secured its sixth pole position in eight Moto2 races in 2017 after Franco Morbidelli delivered another peerless performance in today’s Assen qualifying session.
Fastest at the end of both of yesterday’s dry practice sessions, Morbidelli demonstrated his renowned wet weather prowess this morning by setting the quickest pace in a rain-hit FP3 to continue his domination of the Dutch TT.
His electric pace in varying conditions meant Morbidelli was confident he could challenge for a fourth pole position of the season when the 45-minute qualifying session commenced on a damp track.
Morbidelli’s confidence was well placed when he started the session on slick Dunlop tyres, despite the iconic Assen track not being completely dry in parts.
The Italian’s charge to pole was halted momentarily when the session was red flagged following a high-speed crash for Lorenzo Baldassarri. But once the action got back underway, Morbidelli’s brilliant lap of 1’38.468 never came under serious threat and he starts tomorrow’s 24-lap race fully anticipating fighting for his fifth win of 2017.
At one stage it looked like Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS would occupy two places on the front row of the grid for the sixth time this season. Álex Márquez was putting up his trademark strong challenge for pole position when he was denied by a small mistake at turn 9 while he was in time attack mode on brand new Dunlop rubber in the closing minutes.
The Spaniard had to settle for eighth position on the grid, but he remains confident a third successive rostrum is well within his grasp, as he looks to make a further dent into the 20-point deficit he has against teammate Morbidelli in the World Championship standings.
Franco Morbidelli: 1st – 1’38.468
“At the start of qualifying it was very tricky because you weren’t quite sure where you could push with a few parts of the track still damp. I found a good pace but then came the big crash of Baldassarri and I must admit it was hard to watch those images and difficult once the session started again to recover the focus. I managed to get back into my rhythm and I am happy to take pole position. It will be a tough race as always but I’m confident that I can be pushing to win again. The last two races didn’t go to plan but I’ve kept calm and now I feel more competitive it is time to fight for the win again.”
Álex Márquez: 8th – 1’38.938
“I’m not too unhappy to be on the third row of the grid, but obviously I have to be a little disappointed because I think I showed all weekend that my potential is higher. My best lap was set on used tyres and I was just starting to push on fresh rubber when I made the mistake at turn 9. It is normal when you are pushing to try and fight for pole position that something like that can happen. Apart from that I feel good on the bike and I am convinced that I can make a really good race tomorrow.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“The Dutch TT is always a special race for us because it the closest we get to racing near our base in Belgium. So, to be on pole position is a very good feeling. Franco has done a good job in all conditions this weekend and it has been impressive how he has reacted from two difficult races in Mugello and Barcelona that were not what he expected. But he has been fast all weekend and we can be confident he will be fighting for the win. I don’t think eighth on the grid is a true reflection of where Álex should have qualified because he has also been very fast in the dry and wet this weekend. It’s always difficult when you crash so late in qualifying but without the mistake I’m sure he could have been on the front row. He will be there at the front tomorrow. I’ve no doubt about that and I’m confident we can make a double podium in the race.”