Assen MotoGP: Bradley Smith fifth on grid for 125GP

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World 125GP title contender Bradley Smith will start tomorrow’s 22-lap Dutch GP from fifth on the grid.

The Oxfordshire rider clocked a best time of 1.45.712 to miss the front row by just 0.033s in a closely contested qualifying session that saw the top 13 riders split by just over 0.8s.

Smith looked like at least securing a place on the front row for the fourth time in seven races on his last lap.

He was on course to claim pole after the first three sectors but last crucial time in the final part of the historic Assen track.

Although he set a personal best on his last lap he eventually missing pole position by just 0.282s. German Sandro Cortese snatched Pole right at the death, with Smith’s Aspar team-mate and chief title rival Julian Simon claiming second.

Simon was pipped to his fifth pole position of 2009 by just 0.011s as he looks to defend a 1.5-point lead over 18-year-old Smith in tomorrow’s race.

Nicolas Terol and Stefan Bradl complete the front row while British teenager Danny Webb was only 0.848s off pole yet way down in 13th on the grid.

At one stage Webb was running close to the top of the leaderboard on the Degraaf Aprilia and just seven minutes were left on the clock when the Kent rider moved into fourth place.

But he was unable to better his time of 1.46.278 in the final minutes and lost nine places on the grid. Scott Redding’s tough weekend continued this afternoon with the Gloucestershire 16-year-old only 17th quickest on his Blusens Aprilia machine.

He was sidelined for much of yesterday’s opening session with an engine management issue and has continued to struggle with handling problems.

The 2008 British GP winner logged a best time of 1.47.087 to finish 1.657s off pole position.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt