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(Reuters) - Italian great Valentino Rossi took pole position for the Dutch MotoGP round on Friday with the fastest ever lap on a motorbike around the Assen circuit.
The Yamaha rider, who leads Spanish team mate Jorge Lorenzo by a point in the standings, smashed Australian Casey Stoner's 2012 pole record with a lap of one minute 32.627 seconds.
The pole, on a sunny afternoon at the Dutch TT, was the 61st of Rossi's career and first since last season's final round in Valencia.
"Assen is always special for me, because I have great memories here. I have won here in the past and a lot of important races in my career took place at this circuit. I love this track, because it's fantastic," said Rossi.
Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro was second fastest while world champion and fellow Spaniard Marc Marquez, on a Honda, completed the front row for Saturday's race. Lorenzo starts in eighth place.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris