It wasn’t just the temperature that was soaring in Assen as two Yamahas and a Suzuki lineup on the front row, big names outside the top 10
Rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) becomes the youngest ever MotoGP back-to-back polesitter after storming to a sensational P1 in Q2 at the Motul TT Assen, the Frenchman setting a 1:32.017 – a new all-time lap record – to beat Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by 0.140, with Q1 graduate Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the front row.
World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the first rider to set a fast lap in the 15-minute Q2 shoot-out, a 1:32.857 was his benchmark but a Suzuki storm was brewing just behind. Rins was on a flyer and the Spaniard came over the line to set a new all-time lap record – a 1:32.461 obliterated Marquez’ time by almost four tenths. Quartararo then came around to complete his first lap, he went 0.274 off Rins’ time in P2 before Marquez leapfrogged back past the 20-year-old to become Rins’ closest challenger once more.
Then, the Yamahas of Quartararo and Viñales were both going quicker than the fastest lap, but neither could quite hold the pace as they came to round to complete their opening runs. Rins held provisional pole as the riders pitted for fresh rubber, with Quartararo 0.053 off in P2 and Viñales 0.194 back in third.
Brand-new soft front, soft rear was in order as the 12 MotoGP machines rumbled out of pitlane in front of a packed house in Assen. The pole position battle was on. Straight out of the gate, Viñales was setting session-best red sector times and heading into the final sector, the Spaniard had 0.062 in his pocket – but he didn’t need it. The number 12 put in a ferociously quick final sector to go a whopping three tenths quicker than Rins. What a lap from Viñales, but would it be beaten?
Marquez was just behind Viñales heading onto his second run but at Turn 1, the Repsol Honda rider had to demonstrate his demonic reflexes once more – another save for the number 93, as a certain Petronas Yamaha SRT rider started to get into the groove. Quartararo was 0.2 up on Viñales half way around the lap, but the flying Fren