Marc Marquez took his first pole position of the 2018 season after a dramatic finish to qualifying at Assen. The reigning champion, whose only previous pole this season was stripped away from him in Texas, produced a stunning fourth sector on his final lap to snatch pole position ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi.
The qualifying session took a while to catch fire on Saturday afternoon with Jorge Lorenzo the only rider to set representative times on his first run, setting a 1:33.600, but the times would soon tumble as Marquez lowered the benchmark to a 1:33.330, ensuring he would return to the pits with provisional pole position.
The final runs commenced with Lorenzo circulating with the Suzuki of Andrea Iannone while the rest of the protagonists lapped together in a close group. This strategy appeared to be backfiring when Lorenzo regained top spot on a 1:33.167, a time bettered moments later by Iannone, but a flurry of last-gasp improvements transformed the qualifying picture.
2017 polesitter Johann Zarco was the first to improve, setting a 1:33.072, but a rapid final sector from Marquez saw him break into the 1:32s, securing him pole position. Crutchlow stole second at the rear of the group with Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso crossing the line virtually together for third and fourth respectively.
Alex Rins, who advanced with Zarco out of Q1, took fifth ahead of Maverick Vinales while Aleix Espargaro qualified an impressive seventh for Aprilia, relegating Zarco all the way back to eighth. Iannone and Lorenzo fell even further, despite having sat on top of the leaderboard a minute from time, ultimately finishing ninth and tenth.