Espargaro on pole for Dutch MotoGP

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Spain’s Aleix Espargaro has taken pole position for Saturday’s Dutch MotoGP race, finishing ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez, who is aiming for an eighth consecutive season win.

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It is the first-ever pole position for the Yamaha rider, who made his intentions clear on Thursday by setting the fastest lap ever recorded at the current Assen track.

Espargaro will be sure to try and deny the unstoppable Marquez a record eighth victory on Saturday and a chance to stretch his perfect 175-points ahead of second-placed Valentino Rossi.

Typically unpredictable Dutch weather hit as the second group of racers set out for qualifying, with a light shower sifting on the packed Assen track.

The changing conditions seemed to throw veteran racer Rossi, who is currently second in the standings, 58 points adrift of Marquez.

Rossi could only manage 12th place on the grid, meaning he’ll start in the fourth row on Saturday.

Espargaro, who set a time of 1min 38.789 on Friday outpaced Marquez by a comfortable 1.405sec, with another Spaniard, Dani Pedrosa in third, 1.943sec off the pace.

Italy’s Andrea Iannone will lead the second row, finishing fourth fastest at 1.997sec on a Ducati, with Britain’s Cal Crutchlow on another Ducati alongside him at 2.007sec.

Earlier, Australian championship leader Jack Miller sped to a fourth pole position in the Moto3 Grand Prix with a time of 1min 42.240sec.

Miller, who has so far notched up 117 points in the Moto3 championship, finished his fasted lap just 0.116 faster than Spaniard Alex Marquez on a Honda at 1min 42.356sec, who is currently lying in fifth position on the log with 85 points.