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Ducati's Bagnaia smashes lap record to take pole at Dutch GP

Twice MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati smashed the lap record in the qualifying session to clinch his first pole position of the season at the Dutch Motorcycle Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Italian came into qualifying at TT Circuit Assen on the back of strong practice sessions and went fastest with a time of 1:30.540 to better championship leader Jorge Martin's mark of 1:30.877, set minutes earlier in Q2.

Martin, of Prima Pramac Racing, who has an 18-point lead over Bagnaia, finished second quickest, with Aprilia Racing's Maverick Vinales completing the front row.

"I was struggling a little to find the limit to (get) the pole position but in the last races I was always a bit closer and finally in the pole position," Bagnaia said.

"It is fantastic in front of this crowd. Let's try to do the same this afternoon, try to lead. It won't be easy but I am very happy."

The sprint takes place later on Saturday.

Martin, 26, said he was focused on himself, as Bagnaia tries to close the gap in the championship standings.

"Really happy... I was really close to the pole position... I think the pace is fast. Pecco (Bagnaia) will try to make it a very fast race but we will be ready for that," Martin added.

Six-times MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, third in the championship, will start seventh in Sunday's race after crashing.