CRT top gun Aleix Espargaro exceeded his own expectations as the Spanish rider claimed a superb third row start for the Dutch TT at Assen.

Espargaro's best lap of 1m 35.500s put him in seventh place, 1.102s down on Cal Crutchlow's pole time and ahead of Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista and Ducati riders Nicky Hayden, Andrea Dovizioso, Michele Pirro and Andrea Iannone.

The Power Electronics Aspar rider's team-mate, Randy De Puniet, also excelled at Assen this afternoon as the Frenchman qualified in ninth to give the team its best MotoGP grid positions of the season, a tenth of a second behind Espargaro.

"So far it has been a great weekend. Yesterday we were good in the wet and the dry," said Espargaro.

"I had a feeling we could go well at this track but not this good!

"The flowing corner layout is useful for us here. It's the first time that we are so close to the top factory bikes.

"The electronics package has also really improved which I'm happy about."

Espargaro, currently in tenth place overall in the MotoGP World Championship and by far the top CRT representative in the series, believes he has more to offer in tomorrow's race.

"I still feel we can improve some more in warm-up.

"I want to fight with an official factory bike in the race and we know the conditions could be changeable in the race," he said.

"We are optimistic, whatever the conditions."