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Crash enables Simoncelli to snatch pole

Italian Marco Simoncelli took his second career MotoGP pole position yesterday after beating Yamaha’s American Ben Spies by barely the blink of an eye in qualifying for the Dutch TT at Assen.

The Gresini Honda rider, who grabbed his first pole in Barcelona earlier this month, had been quickest in practice and made sure of the top slot on the grid with a lap of 1 min 34.718 sec.

Spies, whose Japanese team are celebrating their 50th anniversary in grand prix racing, was a mere nine thousandths of a second off the pole pace.

Australia's championship leader, Casey Stoner, completed the front row on his works Honda, after a fall in practice, with Yamaha's world champion Jorge Lorenzo in fourth place and outqualified by team-mate Spies for the first time this year.

Stoner leads Lorenzo in the championship by 18 points going into the race.

"Now I hope to also be happy after the race," said Simoncelli, who has yet to finish on the podium this year despite four front-row starts. He has crashed out of three of the six races. "This year every time in practice I was also so fast, and in the races always something happens and I miss the result me and my team deserve."

Assen, with its race today rather than the usual Sunday, might break the jinx with the Italian observing that he had always gone well on Saturdays so far.

Spies might have beaten Simoncelli had Italian veteran Loris Capirossi not crashed in front of him on his final flying lap. "We would have liked to get pole position but, unfortunately on my fast lap, Loris went down and there were a lot of yellow flags," said the American. "I want to be a little bit upset but I want him to be ok a lot more than I wanted pole position."

Simoncelli's compatriot Andrea Dovizioso put his Honda in fifth while Britain's Cal Crutchlow qualified an impressive sixth on the Tech3 Yamaha only two weeks after he broke his collarbone at Silverstone.

Italian MotoGP great Valentino Rossi qualified 11th on his Ducati.