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Rossi takes pole and Lorenzo joins him on front row to set-up another Fiat Yamaha battle

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi, who is looking for his 100th career victory tomorrow, took his second pole position of the season in the Netherlands today with a commanding display at the Assen TT circuit. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo filled the third grid spot after just missing out with his final flying lap. Dani Pedrosa will start from second whilst Casey Stoner, who is joint championship leader along with Rossi and Lorenzo, will head the second row. It is the fourth double front row for the Fiat Yamaha Team this season.

After yesterday’s bright sunshine today was overcast and cooler but it stayed dry and both riders had a useful morning practice, with Lorenzo running out on top and Rossi fourth. This afternoon’s qualifying saw the usual continuation of set-up work throughout the early stages before Rossi moved into pole with ten minutes to go, with Lorenzo second. The pair swapped positions once more before the Italian set his pole-clinching lap of 1’36.025 to retake pole with four minutes to go. Lorenzo was up on his team-mate’s time on his final flying lap but he dropped a few tenths on the last sector and finished the session 0.368 seconds adrift.

Rossi’s other pole of 2009 came at Motegi, when grid positions were in fact decided on free practice after qualifying was rained off. The World Champion’s last ‘proper’ pole was therefore at Indianapolis last year, on his way to a famous inaugural victory at the American track. Lorenzo meanwhile has qualified on the front row for all seven rounds so far this season.

Tomorrow’s 26-lap race begins at 1400 local time but with rain forecast the weather could prove a factor in the day’s proceedings once again.

Valentino Rossi – Position: 1 Time: 1’35.025 Laps: 29
“This is a really good pole position because I’ve only had one other this season, at Motegi in strange conditions. I had a lot of traffic around me in the last few minutes so I had to be careful to judge exactly the right point to push, but I got it right and I was really happy with my great lap at the end. I feel good and I am very strong with the Bridgestone race tyres but it’s going to be a hard race because the others are also very fast. We still have two or three points on the track where we could improve our performance a bit more so we still have a bit of work to do, but I am confident that we can make another great race. Of course we don’t know about the weather, but this is normal for Assen and we will just have to manage!”

Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rd Time: 1’36.393 Laps: 31
“I’m happy with the first row, another one for this season, and this is the most important thing with regards to the start of the race tomorrow. Of course I wanted my fourth pole position but I had some problems in the last sector; I’m not sure why yet. We need to continue working to try to improve in that area and to understand the problem, because the race is going to be very hard with quite a few riders up front. We don’t know what the weather will be and so we will have to wait and see until warm-up tomorrow morning.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“Our target is always the front row so to get pole position is the best we can do! This was a good session because we had a strong pace throughout and Valentino is feeling comfortable on the bike. We’re looking forward to tomorrow but of course we are a bit worried about the weather. We have a few small things to fine-tune and then we will hope for a good start, like in Barcelona, and another exciting race.”

Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“We’re happy because the main aim is to be on the front row, and we have achieved that once again here. In fact we were hoping maybe for second with that last lap, but third is okay as well and Jorge is very fast. He did a long run during the session and his pace was very good, but we still need to improve slightly in T4, because this is where we are losing a bit of time. We will work on this tonight and use the warm-up – weather permitting – to make final improvements.”

Edwards and Toseland equal season best qualifying in Assen
Colin Edwards and James Toseland equalled their best qualifying performances of the season in Assen today to boost hopes of a double top six finish for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in tomorrow’s Dutch MotoGP race.

Edwards’ hopes of a third MotoGP podium at the legendary Assen circuit were boosted by his best lap of 1.36.760 securing him fifth place on the second row of the grid in a session run in cool and cloudy conditions. The American made big progress in finding a more confidence-inspiring front-end setting on his YZR-M1 machine and Edwards topped the timesheets with just under 20 minutes remaining. The 35-year-old, who currently lies sixth in the overall standings, only slipped off the front in a dramatic final few minutes, but he’s confident his race pace is fast enough to mount a podium challenge tomorrow.

Toseland will start round seven of the 2009 world championship from ninth position on the grid, the British rider gaining more crucial experience on a radically revised YZR-M1 set-up. It was Toseland’s second successive top ten grid position and showed the significant strides he has made recently in improving his qualifying performance.

The 28-year-old clocked a best time of 1.37.323 to finish just over a second off Valentino Rossi’s pole position time and he was just over half-a-second away from fourth place. Using a YZR-M1 with new footrest, handlebar and seating positions that he tried for the first time yesterday, Toseland is confident that he can claim his first top six finish of the campaign in tomorrow’s 26-lap race.

Colin Edwards
Colin Edwards
Colin Edwards 5th 1.36.760 – 25 laps
“It certainly wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be because at the start of the session I was in and out of the pits a lot making adjustments and normally that’s not a good sign. I’ve got a busy feeling on race tyres now I’m using the longer wheelbase. It puts a bit more weight on the front and while it’s not chatter I don’t feel I’m absorbing the bumps as well as I need to be. At certain times it feels like I’m skimming over the bumps, but despite that I’m pretty happy with my pace. I did a 37.3 on race tyres and for race pace that’s acceptable. I think low 1.37s or high 1.36s will be the pace if it stays dry, and I’m confident I can run those times. I put my head down on the softer rear tyre and on my last lap I managed to set my best time even though the hard front had eight laps on it. After eight or nine laps the front will start to lose that special feeling and I had a couple of slides on my last couple of laps and I wasn’t going to go any quicker than wha t I did. Considering that I’m happy to have equalled my best qualifying of the year, particularly as I feel we can make the bike better. I think we’re looking good for tomorrow because the fourth section has always been a bogey section for me and that’s where you can gain or lose a lot of time. On the Bridgestone’s it is unbelievable through that last section. They are just so stable you don’t get the handlebars shaking or flapping through the fast sections. Everything just rolls nice and smooth and I think we can get out there and fight at the front tomorrow.”

James Toseland
James Toseland
James Toseland 9th 1.37.323 – 28 laps
“I’m really happy even though I’m only ninth again on the grid. We’ve spent a lot of time working on the race setting with the new set-up and I’m feeling really confident on race tyres. The weight we’ve put on the rear is really helping the Bridgestone work and its helping keep load on the tyre. We put a bit more weight on the rear again today and we’re getting better rear grip. I’m just trying to work the rear tyre a lot more with that extra load on it and that means I can exit the corner a lot better. I’ve also got more stability going into the corner but on the softer tyres there was so much traffic that I got held up a bit otherwise I might have gained another couple of places. I had to roll off when I came across Toni Elias and that was a big shame because I’d just done my best first split of the whole session. Fingers crossed it will be dry tomorrow because I feel I’m getting close to where I need to be. After Catalunya I’ve done about 15 practice starts this week end because it is crucial that I get away to give myself a chance of a top six. I’m trying a slightly different clutch just to be a bit smoother because as I release the clutch it has been a bit aggressive in the first few races. But I’m desperate to give Yamaha and my guys at Tech 3 a good result after all the help they’ve been giving me this weekend.”

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