Motor cycling: Suzuki's Chris in top slot at Assen

Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen has claimed pole position for the A-Style MotoGP Dutch TT.

Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen has claimed pole position for the A-Style MotoGP Dutch TT.

The 25-year-old Australian was fastest in wet conditions during yesterday's qualifying session at the 2.8-mile Assen circuit.

Third in last Sunday's Nickel & Dime British Grand Prix at Donington Park, Vermeulen set a benchmark fastest-lap time of one minute and 48.555 seconds.

Second on the grid will be compatriot and current championship leader Casey Stoner, of Ducati Marlboro, who was 0.017secs adrift of Vermeulen, while Randy de Puniet was third fastest on the factory Kawasaki. Defending champion Nicky Hayden qualified a lowly 13th on the factory-backed Repsol Honda machine, while Makoto Tamada needed the race director's permission to race after lapping outside 107% of the pole time.

Vermeulen, who had encountered problems with his bike's braking system and chassis chatter, said: "This was our first wet session of the weekend and that made it pretty difficult to get the bike set-up right, and also qualify, in just the hour. The team did a great job and the bike felt really good.

"It was easily capable of doing those lap-times in those conditions - if not going a bit quicker. In the dry this morning we made a lot of improvements and I feel confident now in any weather."

Meanwhile, the season is over for Honda Gresini rider Toni Elias, who suffered a broken leg during opening practice on Thursday.

The 24-year-old underwent surgery yesterday to stabilise a fractured left femur with two metal plates and now faces a projected seven-month lay-off.

In 250cc, Jorge Lorenzo's opening qualification time went unbeaten in a wet second session to give the defending champion pole position. Second quickest was Andrea Dovizioso, followed by Alvaro Buatista third and Horoshi Aoyama. Ireland's Eugene Laverty was 21st fastest on the LCR Honda with Yorkshire's Dan Linfoot two places back.

Heavy rain at the circuit meant none of the 125cc riders were able to improve on their previous timings during yesterday's final qualification session.


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