Aleix Espargaro hasn't ruled out the possibility of running the Open class soft rear tyre over Saturday's full race distance at the Dutch MotoGP.

Espargaro posted a new record lap of 1m 33.653 at the iconic circuit during free practice to head the times on the Forward Yamaha, narrowly edging out Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez by 0.211s.

The Spanish rider revealed he had more confidence in the soft rear compared to the hard option once they began to lose grip at Assen and will now focus on the softer compound rear Bridgestone over a long run on Friday.

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"With both tyres we were competitive, but the strange thing is when the rear tyre drops, I can be more confident with the soft than the hard," Espargaro said.

"I did a lot of laps with the soft rear tyre, which is very good, so I will keep making laps with the soft. The bike is good and I love this track; I like to come and race at Assen, the place is fantastic and I want to keep trying and keep working tomorrow. Obviously the bike is good because the time we set is really fast," he added.

"Tomorrow I'm going to do a long run with the rear soft, so we'll push tomorrow to make more laps and we'll see [if decision is made to use soft rear for the race]."

Espargaro - asked for his thoughts on Forward's new frame, which he tested in Catalunya - said it was 'better than I expected'.

"The first impression was that on the hard braking the bike was a little bit better; I can go in on the brakes stronger and it was a big step, but on the fast corners we need to work a little bit," he said.

"I tested 25 laps and it was better than I expected."


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This soft tire option for Open teams is nonsense. Special qualifying tires aren't supposed to exist but these soft tires don't last in the race. They just distort results in practice and qualifying. They may make help the Open teams get headlines, like this one, but they just distort reality.