Assen (Netherlands), June 26 (ANI): Lone wolf Stefan Bradl was able to make steady steps forward as he and the Honda Team worked to improve the RC213V. Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro was forced to withdraw from the race.

Saturday in Assen would prove to be a day of progress for Stefan Bradl. Struggling to get into the 1'33s in the morning, a big effort by the Honda Team mechanics changed Bradl's pair of RC213Vs for the afternoon sessions. The one lap improvements were clear to see as Bradl dropped his best lap time from a 1'34.180 in FP3 to a 1'33.029 in Q1 - one of the biggest improvements of the day. The time will see the #6 line up on the sixth row of the grid, ahead of the factory Yamaha of Franco Morbidelli. Bradl is confident that with a strong start he can be in the mix throughout the 26-lap race.

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Just ahead of Free Practice 3, Pol Espargaro and the Honda Team announced his withdrawal from the event due to injuries sustained at the Sachsenring. Espargaro will now return home to immediately begin further treatment ahead of the British Grand Prix, the scene of his first pole position with Honda.

Takaaki Nakagami qualified as the top Honda in 12th position.

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"It was not such a bad final result in Qualifying as we were still exploring some settings with the bike in FP3 and FP4 to get a direction. Missing FP1 with rain left us a bit far away with setup but we've done a good job today. In Qualifying we were more or less on target and tomorrow we can be with the group, fighting and getting some positions. I need to make a good start to stay in the group and then see what happens in the race, " said Honda rider Stefan Bradl.

"I feel really sorry for the team, to not finish the Grand Prix was a very hard decision. I thought I was okay after the first session but yesterday in FP2 I pushed very hard and I hurt myself. I don't know exactly what I have done but it got worse, and I have been struggling with the pain and to breathe. My main priority is to understand the situation fully and work on recovering fully during the summer, " said Honda rider Pol Espargaro. (ANI)

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