The 27-year-old Italian abandoned the one-hour session with 11 minutes remaining, in pain from the fractured right hand he suffered in a crash on Thursday. Championship contender Loris Capirossi, still suffering from the chest injuries he received in a crash in Barcelona only five days earlier, completed the qualifying session, but in 15th place on his Marlboro Ducati. Capirossi said yesterday that he hoped to compete today, but he may have rest until next weekend's British round at Donington Park.
Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins took advantage of the walking-wounded state of a quarter of the MotoGP grid to record the first pole position of his career with a 1min 36.411sec lap of the 2.83 mile Assen circuit. Sete Gibernau is out with a fractured collarbone after his Barcelona crash, Toni Elias returned home to Spain after falling at Assen and Honda's Marco Melandri, another of the Barcelona battered, finished a subdued seventh.
Despite the carnage amongst the star names, championship leader Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) qualified only fourth yesterday. Hayden has yet to win a race this season, but the 24-year-old American will never have a better opportunity.Reuse content