Marco Bezzecchi secured his first MotoGP pole of 2023 at Assen with a new lap record of the Dutch venue to head Francesco Bagnaia by just 0.061s.

The VR46 rider continued the commanding form he showed across Friday practice in the early stages of the pole shootout as he fired in the fastest lap of the weekend to that point – a 1:31.874s – to head Bagnaia by nearly two-tenths-of-a-second as Ducati once again reigned supreme – though KTM, Aprilia and Yamaha weren’t far behind.

Bezzecchi had more in the locker for the final runs of Q2 though as he strung together a stunning 1:31.472s effort to beat the previous two-wheeled lap record of Assen by 0.032s, with Bagnaia slotting into second just over half-a-tenth adrift at that point.

A crash for Luca Marini at Turn 8 just after the Italian moved into third overall ultimately ended any chances for improvement as the field lost any benefit their new tyres gave them on their respective second attempts, leaving Bezzecchi to collect his second career premier class pole to lead an all-Ducati front-row ahead of Bagnaia and Marini.

Fabio Quartararo enjoyed his most competitive showing of the year so far for Yamaha as he lapped just 0.199s slower than Bezzecchi to secure a seasons-best fourth on the grid, the Frenchman narrowly edging out KTM and Aprilia’s best-placed pilot’s of Brad Binder and Aleix Espargaro who were fifth and sixth respectively.

Maverick Vinales secured a slot at the front of the third row just behind his team-mate on the other factory Aprilia, while Johann Zarco grabbed eighth for Pramac Ducati having managed to escape the clutches of Q1 just moments earlier.

Alex Marquez was ninth for Gresini, with Jorge Martin completing the top ten after a difficult session that saw him crash at Turn 3 early on – the Spaniard left with work to do to try and inflict further damage on Bagnaia’s points lead.

Miguel Oliveira was 11th having joined Zarco in progressing from Q1, while Jack Miller completed the 12 Q2 runners on his KTM.

Fabio Di Gianantonio narrowly missed out on a first Q2 appearance of 2023 to claim 13th on the grid for both the sprint and grand prix outings, the Italian just clear of LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami who ended up as the Japanese manufacturer’s highest runner in 14th ahead of Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli.

Marc Marquez suffered yet another crash on his factory Honda while following Enea Bastianini on a cool down lap, the latter slowing to look for approaching riders as the former did the same without realising Bastianini was slowing – Marquez hitting the rear of the Ducati and going down into the gravel as a result.

His early bath left him 17th on the grid for both races just ahead of Bastianini, while Aprilia wildcard Lorenzo Savadori was the best of the one-off riders in 19th just clear of LCR Honda stand-in Stefan Bradl.

Augusto Fernandez struggled for speed en-route to 21st for GasGas, the rookie lining up just ahead of Iker Lecuona on his factory Honda and team-mate Jonas Folger.

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