Jorge Lorenzo may have emphasized his current advantage over the MotoGP field with his second straight pole position of 2010, but the star of qualifying for the Dutch TT at Assen was Randy de Puniet who once again took second position.
Lorenzo ensured pole with a 1m34.515sec time on his 31st and final lap of qualifying, but just two tenths behind the world championship leader was the LCR Honda of the irrepressible Frenchman.
De Puniet even sat on provisional pole for a while until Lorenzo forsook his long hard-tire run, switched to softs and begun banging in faster times. Casey Stoner should have been in that scrap for pole as well, but instead he suffered a clutch problem and then a backfire. So he returned to the pits, helmet shaking, before the final dashes even began to hit the scoreboard.
The Australian nevertheless starts third ahead of the meteoric Ben Spies on the Tech 3 Yamaha. The Texan might even have gone quicker had he not come up behind Mika Kallio at an inopportune moment on a flier.
Nicky Hayden was fifth fastest, nearly half a second off pole in the second Ducati, while Andrea Dovizioso was sixth – more than two tenths slower on the quickest of the factory Hondas than de Puniet's privateer RC212V.
Dani Pedrosa, on the sister HRC bike, continued his quiet weekend with the inside of the third row ahead of Marco Simoncelli, Colin Edwards and Aleix Espargaro who completed the top 10. The Suzukis of Loris Capirossi and Alvaro Bautista took 11th and 12th.
Marco Melandri didn't take part in the session, watching it from the garage following his shunt in the morning session.
Pos Rider Team Time Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m34.515s
2. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m34.797s + 0.282s
3. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m34.803s + 0.288s
4. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha 1m34.926s + 0.411s
5. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m34.999s + 0.484s
6. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m35.015s + 0.500s
7. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m35.162s + 0.647s
8. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m35.283s + 0.768s
9. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m35.393s + 0.878s
10. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 1m35.593s + 1.078s
11. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m35.664s + 1.149s
12. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m36.344s + 1.829s
13. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 1m36.502s + 1.987s
14. Hector Barberta Aspar Ducati 1m36.569s + 2.054s
15. Kousuke Akiyoshi Interwetten Honda 1m38.198s + 3.683s
16. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda no time