Few races are written immediately into the history books as the flag flies at the finish line, but the 2018 Dutch GP will be one of them and it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who emerged from the melee to take the win on the Championship’s 70th visit to the track.

MotoGP 2018 - Assen

MotoGP 2018 – Assen

However the headlines were stolen somewhat as the TT Circuit Assen hosted a showcase of the best of MotoGP starring Marquez, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), teammate Maverick Viñales, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). And those on the podium at the end – Marquez, Rins and Viñales – fought to the top in the closest top fifteen of all time.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez

Marquez took the holeshot from pole, with Crutchlow initially on his tail from second on the grid until Lorenzo sliced through from tenth to P2 after another awe-inspiring launch. The Italian and Catalan GP winner didn’t wait long to strike for the lead either, attacking Marquez and the two side-by-side in a war of wills until Lorenzo edged ahead. Marquez hit back a lap later at Turn 15, before Lorenzo repaid the favour once more. The duel was the first of many; an early taste of what was to come.

Rossi then made his first attack of the race at the final chicane, a first rehearsal, and set off after Lorenzo – with the Spaniard then suffering a moment soon after and Rossi smashing into the rear of the Ducati, unable to avoid him. But both stayed on and both stayed ahead, with Marquez, Dovizioso, Rins, Crutchlow and Viñales forming a train of riders fighting at the front.

Cal Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow

Marquez took Rossi, Viñales took Crutchlow, Dovizioso took Rossi, Dovizioso took Marquez, Marquez struck back, Rins took Rossi and then Dovizioso…but Lorenzo held firm at the front. With eight riders within a second, from Lorenzo down to Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) at the back of the train, the touch paper was well and truly lit on an absolute classic.

Jorge Lorenzo

Jorge Lorenzo

The war continued before another bout of bigger drama with 15 laps to go as Rins attacked Marquez and the two were only a hair’s breadth apart – minimal contact, but the reigning Champion suffered a big moment as he got back on the gas. That dropped him back off the lead, with Lorenzo chased by Rins and Dovizioso.

Alex Rins

Alex Rins

The Italian dueled his teammate for the lead soon after and Lorenzo began to drop back slightly, with Viñales then taking the lead for the first time with eight to go. Next time around Marquez had sliced back through into the lead, before the next lap saw both almost throw it all away as they dueled and both headed wide. Then Rossi took over – another stunner from the ‘Doctor’ at the final chicane – but ‘DesmoDovi’ took him back.

Johann Zarco

Johann Zarco

Four wide at times, Marquez then made his way back into P1…and that was all she wrote, for the lead at least. After one of the closest, most spectacular races in the history of the world’s oldest motorsport Championship, the reigning Champion was able to pull clear to take a stunning fourth win of the year – and increase his points lead.

The battle behind wasn’t over, however, and Viñales had pushed through to second before a last lap attack from Rins – with the Suzuki rider taking his second ever premier class rostrum. Viñales was forced to settle for third but back on the podium for the first time since Texas…and the fight for fourth showed why Rossi had been rehearsing.

Maverick Vinales

Maverick Vinales

The ‘Doctor’ left it late but lunged up the inside of Dovizioso into the famous Geert Timmer chicane on the final lap, and he was ahead – but ‘DesmoDovi’ took him back on the exit, getting such a good exit that the number 04 was almost on a par with Viñales over the line.

Marquez, Rins, Viñales, Dovizioso and Rossi were followed home by Crutchlow and Lorenzo, with Zarco, Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) completing the top ten in one of the greatest races contested on two wheels.

Alex Rins

Alex Rins

Marc Marquez saying, “It was a crazy race, full of adrenaline—this feeling is one of the reasons we do this sport! Yesterday, I was expecting something like this, but nothing like it actually was! We were a wild bunch, everyone fighting against everyone; I think all of us made contact with somebody else at some point. We had to attack and defend, attack and defend. We had so many ‘big moments’ and risked crashing. It was crazy! It was impossible to define the best strategy, impossible to make plans, so eventually I decided to just fight and see what we could do in the end. In the last three laps, I gave it everything, no matter the tyres, no matter the Championship. I had been trying to reduce the group because when you’re fighting for the title, you just want the fewest riders possible at the front, but it was difficult. Only when I saw I had more than one and a half seconds of advantage before the last lap did I think, Okay, we’ve got it, let’s just finish this lap. It was an important win and 25 very important points, but we need to keep going, keep pushing, and keep this same level.”

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez

Alex Rins explaining, “This morning I was feeling really sick, some problems with my stomach. But the doctors at Clinica Mobile gave me some medicine and it took away the pain, so I must really thank them, because when I felt better I thought ‘wow, this will be my race!’. It was a fantastic battle and I learned a lot of things during the race. Our race pace was good and I was able to enjoy it! There were a lot of over-takes and tight moves, so I was always trying to push to stay with the others and hold my space. I feel very positive with my bike and with my team, we all really want to improve and win. We’ve had a really competitive bike since Qatar, but we’ve been able to change a few things to get extra power and better performance, so I hope I can stay at the top for the next races too. I feel confident for Sachsenring.”

Alex Rins

Alex Rins

Maverick Viñales adding, “For sure I’m very happy. We’ve been studying how to improve the first laps, we worked hard, and it was good to feel strong, especially in the middle of the race. After that the tyre dropped a lot, but I think we can solve this pretty easily for the next races. The TT Assen track helps a little, because I’m fast here, but for the other tracks we need to continue to work hard. My plan today was to get to first place and push, that’s why I didn’t want to let Marc pass me in turn 9. Then I went very close to the gravel, because I braked so late. Anyway, it’s nice to be back and nice to be strong. We weren’t in the best position to win, because we started a little bit towards the back, but in the next races we need to think back to this weekend, because this strategy works. On lap 6 I rode a 1’34.1s. I thought I could ride faster towards the end, but I got a little bit of arm pump and couldn’t control the speed and it was crazy. Last year in Germany was a good race, I was quite strong, and we need to keep working like this. We know the way to go fast in Sachsenring, so it’s time to work and get the job done.”

Maverick Vinales

Maverick Vinales

Andrea Dovizioso saying, “It was an awesome race, for sure more for the fans than the riders because it was really difficult! We were fast and competitive and we worked well throughout the entire weekend, but in the last eight laps the rear tyre unfortunately let up on me so I tried to defend my position until the end and I finished fourth. I had hoped for a podium, but to be honest today we couldn’t do anything more and so in the end I’m happy, even though we must be in a position to manage the tyres better because we arrived at the end of the race with very little grip. In any case we did a good job and for this I’d like to thank my team.”

Andrea Dovizioso

Andrea Dovizioso

Valentino Rossi explaining, “It was a wild race. I was so happy to be there, at the front, because it was exciting for all of the race, but I’m sad because I think I had the potential to arrive on the podium. The problem was that at the beginning I was very unlucky with Lorenzo. Lorenzo touched the curb and lost the front at a very high speed. I was already accelerating, but I overtook him in a good way, and we didn’t crash, so that was very good. After, during the race, it was very difficult and I tried to control the tyre degradation, because I had the soft option on the rear, so I knew that at the end it could be very much on the limit. With four or five laps to go I tried to attack. I was doing well, because I was in second place. When fighting with Dovizioso, he tried to overtake me in the first corner, but he arrived a little in delay so, unfortunately, I had to go outside of the track. We lost a lot of time, me especially. I think me and Dovi both had the potential to arrive on the podium and like this we arrived just in fourth and fifth place.”

MotoGP 2018 - Assen

MotoGP 2018 – Assen

Sadly, that’s now it from the TT Circuit Assen for another year. Can anything top the Dutch GP? After one of the best races of all time, the first to try will be the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring on the 15th July…and then, there are 10 more chances to showcase more of the stunning class of 2018.

MotoGP Results

  1. Marc Márquez (SPA) HONDA 41’13.863
  2. Alex Rins (SPA) SUZUKI +2.269
  3. Maverick Viñales (SPA) YAMAHA +2.308
MotoGP 2018 - Assen - Podium

MotoGP 2018 – Assen – Podium

MotoGP Standings

  1. Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 140
  2. Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 99
  3. Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 93
  4. Johann ZARCO Yamaha FRA 81
  5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 79
  6. Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 79
  7. Jorge LORENZO Ducati SPA 75
  8. Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 71
  9. Andrea IANNONE Suzuki ITA 71
  10. Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 55

Moto2: Bagnaia blasts clear from stunning podium fight

The Championship leader extends his lead with Assen win as drama and classic battles unfold behind
Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) took a dominant fourth victory of the season at the Motul TT Assen after leading from start to finish, eventually taking the checkered flag 1.748 seconds ahead the chasing pack.

Catalan GP race winner Fabio Quartararo (Lightech – Speed Up Racing) produced a stunning fight back through the pack to secure his second consecutive podium in P2 and light up the fight for the podium, beating third placed Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) to the line after Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) retired out of second place with a rare puncture on Lap 21 – a cruel blow for the Italian after a brilliant ride.

‘Pecco’ got the perfect launch from pole to grab the holeshot into Turn 1 as the top three on the grid held station, with Marcel Schroetter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Marquez tucked in behind the Italian. Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the early hard charger, climbing up to fourth on Lap 1 before getting the better of his teammate a lap later.

Francesco Bagnaia

Francesco Bagnaia

Bagnaia’s gap was hovering around the 0.5 second mark for the first half-dozen laps, before the Championship leader pulled the pin to stretch his lead to over a second on lap eight, with Marquez moving his way up to second. After starting 13th, Baldassarri was man on the move, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap eight to reel in Mir, before carving his way past Schroetter and Marquez to slot into second position.

By this point, Bagnaia was looking imperious as the gap crept up to the two second mark, with Baldassarri stretching away from the battle for third. Further down the order, Miguel Oliveira’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) early race progress to seventh halted, with Quartararo now the rider with scintillating pace. The Frenchman put himself firmly in the podium picture with four laps to go, passing Mir and then quickly made Schroetter his next victim with a sensational pass at Turn 8.

Then, heartbreak hit for Baldassarri as the Italian pulled into the pits with a rear tyre puncture with three to go, before Quartararo used his superior edge grip to slice past Marquez at Turn 4 – a sublime move.

In the end though, no one had an answer for the number 42 at the front, with Quatararo and Marquez rounding out the podium. Schroetter was P4 for a second race in a row, beating Mir to the line as the rookie finished fifth. Oliveira salvaged sixth after starting P17, but loses ground in the Championship to Bagnaia heading into Round 9, with teammate Brad Binder recovering to P7 after starting 22nd.

After earning his first Grand Prix front row start, Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) leaves Assen with a solid eight points under his belt with P8, as Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) crossed the line P9 for a second consecutive race.

Just behind the Brit was Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team), who got the better of teammate Mattia Pasini – the two Italians were P10 and P11 respectively. Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) was an impressive 12th at Assen as he looks forward to the rest of the year in the Pons team, with Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) and Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) – recovering from the back of the grid – rounding out the point scoring positions.

A commanding weekend for Bagnaia at the ‘Cathedral’ means he takes a 16-point advantage to the German GP over Oliveira, as the intermediate class head towards the mid-point of the season. Will the Championship pendulum swing once again at the Sachsenring? We’ll see on the 15th July.

Moto2 Results

  1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX 39’30.436
  2. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) SPEED UP + 1.748
  3. Alex Márquez (SPA) KALEX +2.179

Moto2 Standings

  1. Francesco BAGNAIA Kalex ITA 144
  2. Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM POR 128
  3. Alex MARQUEZ Kalex SPA 110
  4. Lorenzo BALDASSARRI Kalex ITA 93
  5. Joan MIR Kalex SPA 75
  6. Xavi VIERGE Kalex SPA 70
  7. Brad BINDER KTM RSA 66
  8. Fabio QUARTARARO Speed Up FRA 65
  9. Mattia PASINI Kalex ITA 63
  10. Marcel SCHROTTER Kalex GER 63

Moto3: Martin times it to perfection amid drama at Assen

Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) has become the first to win a Moto3 race at the TT Circuit Assen from pole position, breaking the jinx in style to fight it out at the front before pulling the pin to perfection.

Jorge Martin

Jorge Martin

The Spaniard crossed the line nearly seven tenths clear of a duel to the line between second-placed Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and P3 finisher Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing), and the 25 points see Martin take back the top of the Championship after late drama for former points leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) as the Italian crashed out of contention on the final lap.

Martin got the perfect start from pole, safe from attack into Turn 1 as Bastianini tucked in behind and third was taken by his teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) dropped from the front row, and the biggest gain was made by Championship leader Bezzecchi from tenth on the grid, with Italian taking third by the end of Lap 1.

Bezzecchi then attacked Bastianini for second and set his sights on race leader Martin, with the two joined by Canet in the hunt to cut the gap the leader had pulled out. But it was Canet who had the pace to do it, taking Martin as soon as he reached him and Bezzecchi then doing the same.

John McPhee (CIP – Green Power), meanwhile, had pulled away from the second group to join the fight for the win as it became a five-way scrap for glory with 16 to go. With some incredible moves exchanged between the five men, the laps ticked down with nothing in it and positions chopping and changing – classic Moto3 at the ‘Cathedral’.

With two laps to go, Bezzecchi was in the lead but the Italian headed wide and Martin pounced, with the Spaniard then immediately pulling the pin, half a second clear in the blink of an eye. Canet was the man pushing to catch him, before drama then hit as McPhee suddenly slid out at Turn 9 and the fight became four.

Martin was free and clear of it with almost eight tenths in his pocket as they began the final lap, but the drama behind wasn’t over there as another bike then slid out into the gravel – that of Bezzecchi as disaster struck for the Italian. That made the stakes that much bigger for Martin as he crossed the line clear to take not only the win but also the Championship lead – with Canet just able to hold off Bastianini for second.

The second group fighting over sixth was eight riders all packed together to squabble it out, but with the crashes up ahead it became the fight for fourth and a stunning performance from top rookie Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) took that fourth by a mere tenth. He finished just ahead of Czech veteran Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP), who came from 23rd on the grid after a penalty and put in an impressive push through the pack to complete the top five.

Dalla Porta beat Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to P6 by just 0.022 but it was nevertheless the South African’s best result of the season so far, with another close fight just behind the two to decide eighth as Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) pipped Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Bulega. Bulega, completing the top ten from the front row, therefore put his first points on the board in 2018 after a difficult start to the year for the former FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Champion.

Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) split the two Sky Racing Team VR46 machines in P11 as Bulega’s teammate and fellow former Moto3 Junior World Champion Dennis Foggia came home twelfth for his first points of the year as well, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) completing the scorers – Toba from P29 on the grid.

Now it’s time to leave the ‘Cathedral’ and head a little south and a little east as the paddock heads for the German GP, with the lead and the momentum having changed once again. Will the Sachsenring give it another shake up? Find out on 15th July.

MotoGP 2018 - Assen - Moto3 Podium

MotoGP 2018 – Assen – Moto3 Podium

Moto3 Results

  1. Jorge Martin (SPA) HONDA 37’56.485
  2. Aron Canet (SPA) HONDA +0.665
  3. Enea Bastianini (ITA) HONDA +0.718

Moto3 Standings

  1. Jorge MARTIN Honda SPA 105
  2. Marco BEZZECCHI KTM ITA 103
  3. Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO Honda ITA 91
  4. Enea BASTIANINI Honda ITA 84
  5. Aron CANET Honda SPA 81
  6. Gabriel RODRIGO KTM ARG 65
  7. Andrea MIGNO KTM ITA 56
  8. Jakub KORNFEIL KTM CZE 52
  9. Niccolò ANTONELLI Honda ITA 45
  10. Marcos RAMIREZ KTM SPA 44
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