Bo Bendsneyder sits on Pole Position for his home round of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup at Assen. The 15-year-old Dutchman held off two determined Italians, 17-year-old Manuel Pagliani and 15-year-old Stefano Manzi, to lead the front row.
“It's just fantastic, I can't believe it, my first Dutch TT and I am on Pole,” he enthused as the local journalists sought his quotes in the Rookies Cup garage immediately afterwards. “I know the track of course and that helps but I have also been getting quicker and quicker since the start of the season,” explained the first year Rookie.
He was quick all through the two 30 minute free sessions and single 25 minute qualifier. Some rear suspension changes helped him and the KTM RC 250 R during Free Practice and all the hard work on the bike was done before Qualifying. Bendsneyder got settled in and then produced the definitive lap of 1'45.787, comfortably faster than both last year's Pole that was set by Karel Hanika at 1'46.442 and the lap record set last year by Manzi at 1'46.467.
Manzi also upped his pace and set a time of 1'46.022, good enough for third behind Pagliani's 1'45.948. “That was great,' grinned Pagliani. “The bike is perfect, I really enjoyed it. I am a lot happier than in Mugello as now my collarbone is fully fit. Last year I didn't enjoy the track at Assen so much but for sure this year I am a lot happier. I am looking forward to the race, we will change nothing on the bike and I really think a win is possible, we'll see what tomorrow brings.”
Manzi with work to do
Manzi was also grinning but not quite as happy. “It's great to be on the front row, I was fighting hard in qualifying but I am not really happy with the setup. I was struggling on the brakes and we changed the front spring between sessions but I don't think it is the answer. Tomorrow is the race though and I just have to make the best of it.”
Someone who was definitely not smiling was Cup points leader and Mugello winner Jorge Martín. “Not good at all,” the 16-year-old Spaniard stated gloomily, even though a great last lap boosted him to fifth. “That last lap was just too much, I was pushing so hard, almost crashed a couple of times, I had to do something though, I was too far down. I just can't get into the corners, the front is jumping around all over and I am too late getting the power on. I don't know what's happened I haven't had this problem at all this year up to now.”
Ray and Simpson complete Row 2
Just ahead of Martín in fourth is Brad Ray, the 17-year-old Briton. “That was OK, the bike is working well, I just got held up on the last lap or I think we would have been at the front. Still the second row is OK and it should be a good race.”
Completing the second row is an always happy 16-year-old Australian, Olly Simpson. “Not too bad at all, we got the bike working well, I just didn't get myself in the right position for a really good tow towards the end there but the second row will work OK,” explained the fast starting antipodean.
Both races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.
Race 1 takes place on Friday, June 27th at 16.30 CET and Race 2 is on Saturday at 15.30, the show starts 10 minutes before each race.