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Aleix Espargaro has claimed his first MotoGP pole, and the first for the new Open class, during a topsy-turvy qualifying caused by a rain shower at Assen.

Repsol Honda team-mates Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa will join the Forward Yamaha rider on Saturday's front row, with Andrea Iannone (Pramac Ducati), Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) and Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha) on row two.

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Crutchlow, on pole last season, had only reached Q2 courtesy of second place in Q1 but also made the most of the tricky weather to snatch his best qualifying result on a Desmosedici.

By contrast Movistar Yamaha team-mates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi lost out badly: Lorenzo was left in ninth place (+3.5s) with Rossi, the 2013 winner and quickest in FP3, twelfth and last (+4.8s).

Rain had been falling off and on since this morning, with the latest shower arriving just as the Qualifying 2 pole shootout got underway.

The early minutes resembled the start of a race as all twelve riders powered around the track together.

Reigning champion Marquez scythed through the field to momentarily hold pole before Aleix Espargaro - towards the back of the pack - sliced a massive 1.4s under his time, while running the special soft rear tyre only available to the Open class and Ducati riders.

The rain then got heavier, sinking the Factory Yamaha Team's qualifying hopes and confirming the grid positions long before the session reached its official conclusion.

The Open class replaced the CRT category for this season, with machinery no longer subject to a claiming rule and more competitive as a result.

Riding with last year's Yamaha M1 engine and chassis - fitted with the compulsory Open class standard ECU - Espargaro has dominated the category this season, with a best qualifying and race result of fourth heading into this weekend.

Prior to Assen qualifying, the Spaniard had also been fastest during Thursday practice, again while running the soft rear tyre, which he feels could go the distance for the race.

Similar wet/dry conditions are predicted for Saturday's grand prix.

Qualifying 2:
1. Aleix Espargaro
2. Marc Marquez
3. Dani Pedrosa
4. Andrea Iannone
5. Cal Crutchlow
6. Bradley Smith
7. Andrea Dovizioso
8. Stefan Bradl
9. Jorge Lorenzo
10. Alvaro Bautista
11. Pol Espargaro
12. Valentino Rossi