Vermeulen, who took his first MotoGP pole in the wet as a rookie at Istanbul last year and his first win in the wet at Le Mans this year, had been just 15th in the dry on Friday morning - but the arrival of rain propelled him back into the fray.

Having seen a potential Donington wet weather victory slip away due to a misting visor last Sunday, Vermeulen's biggest obstacle at Assen came in the form of countryman and MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner. The five times 2007 race winner set a stunning pace in the slippery conditions, but Vermeulen was eventually able to overhaul the 21-year-old by just 0.017secs as the pair pushed each other over one-second clear of the field.

Vermeulen, who took a dry pole at Laguna Seca last season, is eager to prove he can be fast whatever the weather - but his best chance of victory on Saturday will undoubtedly be in the rain.

"I am very pleased with this first pole position of the season and the third of my MotoGP career," said Chris, who finished third at Donington last Sunday. "The Bridgestone wet tyres, as usual, performed great today. The first five guys on the grid are on Bridgestones, so it goes to show how good the wet tyres are and how it works on all types of machinery.

"This was our first wet session of the weekend and that made it pretty difficult to get the bike set-up right, and also qualify, in just the hour. The team did a great job and the bike felt really good. It was easily capable of doing those lap-times in those conditions - if not a bit quicker!" he warned. "In the dry this morning we made a lot of improvements and I feel confident now in any weather. We now have to wait and see what the weather does; it needs to be wet or dry because if it is in between here it will be awful."

"Everybody knows Chris' wet weather riding ability and he didn't disappoint today!" smiled team manger Paul Denning. "He rode within his capacity but still did enough to take pole position."

Team-mate John Hopkins was also in a front row position for a large part of this afternoon's session, only to see it snatched away from him right at the end.

"The bike and the tyres were great in the wet today. I was happy with the all-round performance, but I'm disappointed to be just off the front row," admitted fifth fastest Hopper. "The conditions were pretty bad at the end and it didn't really feel safe to go any quicker than I had done, but a couple of guys hung it out there and just managed to beat my time. Having said that, the middle of the second row is a good place to start and we made big steps with the dry set-up this morning. This afternoon has also given me a lot of confidence and I know that if it's wet or dry I'll be trying my hardest to get the Rizla Suzuki on the podium again."

"I feel so bad for John in missing out on the front row. He put together a 20-lap run in the early part of the session and got into a great rhythm. He has increased his wet weather performances massively over the last couple of races and deserved a better result today," added Denning.