These just in:
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is back on top, the Spaniard making an early statement at the Motul TT Assen to go fastest in FP1 and FP2 as Top Gun shot first on Friday. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) was second quickest, 0.111 in arrears, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) keeping his momentum in third on Day 1. The day was largely dry until the afternoon, when rain put paid to improvements in the latter half of FP2.
Another headline grabber was a huge highside for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in the afternoon, although the Spaniard walked away unscathed and headed back to the box.
Viñales topped FP1 convincingly and consistently, and he did so just ahead of Pol Espargaro, who also impressed in the opening session of the weekend. The two were a tenth apart, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) moving up to third late on, but the Suzuki man was 0.429 off the top.
Rins demoted Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to fourth, 0.561 off Viñales, with Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) slotting into fifth. The Frenchman was eight tenths off the top and was the first in a gaggle of riders packed close together, with Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and an impressive Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completing the top ten, covered by a couple of tenths.
The only crasher was Garrett Gerloff (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as he begins his first full weekend in MotoGP™, the Texan taking a tumble at Turn 7.
Viñales was again the fastest man on track, with a tenth and a half in hand over Oliveira before spits of rain became a downpour at the TT Circuit Assen. That left Quartararo third in the session and Marc Marquez fourth, before the aforementioned highside saw the number 93 crash out from behind reigning Champion Joan Mir. Mir completed the top five, ahead of Zarco, Rins, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Aleix Espargaro and Pol Espargaro.
Rins was 0.252 off Zarco, but from the number 42 Suzuki down to Danilo Petrucci in 11th was less than two tenths in another tight pack.
Once the rain came down there was a lull in track action for a while, but once it was fully wet many headed back out to get a taster, with sun not guaranteed for the rest of the weekend.
Viñales and Pol Espargaro remain the fastest duo as their FP1 times couldn’t be bettered, with Oliveira the man to gain big in FP2, slotting into a bit of space on the combined timesheets. His 1:33.400 was 0.091 better than Quartararo, who improved in the afternoon but remained fourth. Rins’ FP1 best slots the Suzuki rider into fifth.
Before his highside, Marc Marquez put himself into sixth overall ahead of Mir, with Zarco also improving in FP2 but the man second in the standings only taking P8 on Day 1.
Petrucci takes ninth ahead of Aleix Espargaro completing the top ten, both of whom went quicker in FP1. So did Nakagami and he’s the first man currently set to miss out on an automatic place in Q2, down in P11 on Friday, ahead of Miller, Savadori, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing).
Will the rain return on Saturday morning? Or can the field expect some more dry track time in FP3 to crack into that all-important top ten? Find out from 9:55 (GMT +2), before qualifying for the premier class from 14:10.
Dutch GP: Miller and Bagnaia close the first day of free practice at Assen, disturbed by the rain in the afternoon, in twelfth and fourteenth position
Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia returned to action today at the historic TT Circuit of Assen for the first two free practice sessions of the Dutch GP, the ninth round of the 2021 MotoGP season.
After a completely dry FP1, the rain started to fall at the Dutch circuit early this afternoon, about ten minutes after the start of FP2. Eleventh at the end of this morning session, Miller was able to take advantage of just the first few minutes of FP2 before the rain began, improving his time slightly and finishing in 1:34.066, in twelfth place. Bagnaia closed the first day in fourteenth place in 1:34.265, the same time he set during this morning’s FP1.
Both Ducati Lenovo Team riders will aim to access Q2 directly by improving their lap times during tomorrow morning’s FP3, where the weather conditions could prove to be a determining factor to decide the final standings before qualifying.
Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 12th (1:34.066)
“I’m pretty happy with this first day. This morning we focused mainly on the race pace with used tyres. We knew it would rain in the afternoon, and we wanted to try the time attack right away. But, in the opening minutes of FP2, we had to try something on the setup and then it started to rain, leaving us with no chance to improve our lap times. Anyway, I’m positive, and I’m sure we’ll be able to do so tomorrow”.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 14th (1:34.265)
“I’m not very satisfied with this first day at Assen. I like the track a lot, but I still have to adapt to it. We have a lot of work to do on the bike, and I feel we are still missing something. In the afternoon, we did a modification that, unfortunately, I didn’t like and that caused us to lose time, preventing us from improving our lap time before the rain started to fall. The good thing is that now we have a clearer idea of which direction to take. If FP3 tomorrow morning will be dry, I’m confident I can be fast and competitive”.
The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 9:55 am for FP3, while qualifying for the Dutch GP will be held at 2:10 pm at the end of FP4.
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ IN THE TOP TEN ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE IN ASSEN
GOOD PRACTICE FOR LORENZO SAVADORI WHO FINISHES IN THE TOP TEN IN THE MORNING AND IS ONE OF THE FASTEST IN THE RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON
The rain that arrived in the first half of the afternoon FP2 session froze the combined standings, giving Aleix Espargaró yet another top-ten position this season.
Aleix had been fast from the morning and finished the first FP1 session seventh with a time of 1’33.993 and the idea was to continue improving in the afternoon, but consistent rain showers hampered the riders during the session, effectively freezing the standings. At that time, Aleix had still not improved on his first time and he was lying tenth, so with this position which, if confirmed tomorrow would send him straight through to Q2, his day came to an end.
The same rain kept Lorenzo Savadori from defending a nice tenth place that he had earned in the first free practice session with a time of 1’34.098. Lorenzo was definitely at ease on a circuit which, unlike many others, he knows well, having raced here in his WSBK years.
Savadori closed out the combined standings with a good thirteenth place but, turning laps in the rain, he was one of the fastest with the fourth best time in wet conditions of 1’44.372.
“Overall, things went well today, even though only the first session was really useful. In FP2 I didn’t turn many laps before the rain kept us from continuing our work. In any case, I did my best time with very used tyres and that is always an encouraging signal in view of the race. The grip the new asphalt provides is good. With its aerodynamics, the RS-GP has great stability, but it becomes a bit demanding in the direction changes. I’m curious to see how tomorrow goes. It would be ideal to have stable weather, but here in Assen that is never a given. It is always essential to stay in the top ten. Qualifying well makes the race simpler.”
“The day was definitely positive. This morning we set up our strategy to get into the top ten, given the forecast for rain in the afternoon, and we made it. In the second session, we started with used tyres to work on race pace, thinking that we’d do a time attack later. Instead, a lot of riders went out straight away with a new tyre, dropping the times and bumping me out of the top ten. Then the rain kept us from improving but I still lapped with a good pace in the wet. Assen is a track that I definitely know better than the Sachsenring. I found it rather physical with the MotoGP bike, but I felt pretty good. We need to work especially on the first sector. That’s where I feel like we have the widest margin for improvement.”
This morning PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider Franco Morbidelli underwent a 1-hour surgery for his injured meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Carried out in Casa di Cura Madre Fortunata Toniolo at Bologna, Professor Maurilio Marcacci and his team are satisfied with the surgery and the outcome of the operation. Franco will now stay in the hospital until Sunday for observation. Upon release the Italian will be able to start the recovery process, which will include an eight-week rehabilitation programme.
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s MotoGP riders experienced both dry and wet conditions on the DutchGP opening day. Valentino Rossi ended the day 17th, while Garrett Gerloff was 22nd in his first taste of Assen.
Although Rossi had a series of laps disallowed for exceeding track limits, the Italian made it into the top-eight in the final ten minutes of FP1. At the end of the session he had posted the 15th fastest lap – 1min 34.431secs. Despite spots of rain at the beginning of FP2, Valentino headed straight out to set a 1min 34.777secs lap. After waiting for the track to be suitable for wet tyres, Rossi headed back out but obviously was unable to improve upon his time set in the dry FP1 conditions. He ended the session 18th and was 17th in the combined times.
Gerloff, who has never ridden at Assen before, spent FP1 acclimatising to both bike and circuit. Despite a crash part way through, he was able to consistently improve his time – finishing FP1 22nd with a 1min 35.961secs lap. The American immediately bettered his morning time by setting a 1min 35.744secs lap in the opening stages of FP2, before he was able to get some wet weather running under his belt in the final minutes. Garrett ended the session 21st, which placed him 22nd in the combined times.
Rossi and Gerloff will be back on track tomorrow at 9.55am local time (3.55pm MYT) for Free Practice 3, before the first of the two MotoGP qualifying sessions gets underway at 2.10pm local time (8.10pm MYT).
This track is fantastic and it is a great pleasure to ride here, it is something special. In the end my position today is not good, but I was also quite unlucky. There were a lot of yellow flags and on my final lap I was doing well until sector three, when the rain came. I don’t think I was able to make a complete lap at my full potential today and I think I could have had a better position today – probably around tenth. We have some things to improve in sectors two and four, plus we need to understand the tyres. There was some good grip in the wet though and I felt good. I hope that we can have a dry Saturday and, in particular, a dry Sunday.
I finally got to do a full dry session and the bike feels quite a bit different in the dry, than in the mixed conditions I had in Valencia last year when I rode the Yamaha before. Here at Assen with the fast corners it can be a bit difficult to get used to how stiff and aggressive the MotoGP bike can be. It’s been really nice though because the bike and the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT are amazing. I just need to keep doing this, get some more laps done and find a bit more pace. I’m not pushing at 100% yet because I’m still trying to feel my way and get used to this bike. I’m looking forward to riding it again tomorrow.
TAKA JUST OUTSIDE TOP 10 ON DAY
ONE AT ASSEN
25 June 2021 | Dutch GP Practice
Takaaki Nakagami made a solid start as free practice for the Dutch GP got underway in mixed conditions at Assen. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider showed his potential at the Cathedral of Speed, but rain in the afternoon meant he had to settle for 11th position overall on the final timesheets.
The Japanese star showed good rhythm in a dry FP1, almost dipping into the 1’33s as he finished the session in eighth. However, the onset of rain at the start of FP2 undermined his attempts to improve on that and he eventually ended down in 20th spot, leaving him just outside the top 10 in the combined times ahead of a crucial FP3 on Saturday morning.
Takaaki Nakagami – 11th
“Today was really tricky conditions. FP1 was good, I was inside the top 10 and made a few mistakes, but did enough to stay in the top 10. I was aiming to improve the lap time in FP2 because we still had a big margin in some sectors. But, unfortunately, as I went out on the track at the beginning of the session, there were already some drops of rain and it was the wrong timing. I put new tyres on and went out of the track again and it came again, so we couldn’t improve the lap time. But I feel confident and hopefully tomorrow morning in FP3 it will be dry conditions and I believe I can make a good lap and progress to the Q2 qualifying session.”
SUZUKI PREPARES FOR ERRATIC ASSEN FROM TOP 10 ON FRIDAY
Team Suzuki Press Office – June 25.
Dutch GP Day 1:
Alex Rins: 5th – 1’33.501 (+ 0.429)
Joan Mir: 7th – 1’33.701 (+ 0.460)
Just a week after the German Grand Prix, Team Suzuki Ecstar and the MotoGP™ field were back on track to begin the famously unpredictable yet classic Assen race.
Friday morning’s FP1 was warm and dry, offering Alex Rins and Joan Mir the chance re-familiarise themselves with the difficult Dutch track and to get the feel of the resurfacing carried out since they last rode here. Mir took a steady approach and closed the session in 13th. Meanwhile, Rins, who has previously had great results in Assen, got to grips early on and went third, holding onto this position until the chequered flag.
FP2 started under cloudy skies and rain spots, and despite everyone being keen to set quick times ahead of tomorrow’s FP3 and qualifying sessions, heavier rain put paid to that. The clock kept ticking but the track was empty as the riders waited to see how it played out. With 12 minutes left to go, Rins became the first rider to head out on wet tyres, shortly followed by Mir. The pair managed to get useful information despite times being around 12 seconds slower than on a dry track. Crucially, both kept themselves in the Top 10 with fifth and seventh respectively, which could be very important if FP3 is also wet. They were less than half a second from the top.
“Overall I’m feeling good, especially as I’m inside the Top 10 already. We expected that it might rain in the afternoon so in the morning I used the soft tyre to help me set a strong time that would keep me in the Top 10. The bike is feeling good, but I’m looking forward to doing some more laps tomorrow as a sort of race simulation to check the tyre longevity and to help me make my choice for the race. The new tarmac has an unbelievable amount of grip, which is fantastic, so that’s helpful with this bad forecast we have. I’m still feeling some pain in my arm, because this is a physical track, but everything’s OK.”
“It’s been a positive day, I expected and hoped to feel competitive from the beginning and this was our goal for today, and even if we don’t have the perfect settings yet I was still able to be quite strong and I feel that I have a good base in the wet and the dry. The new surface is pretty grippy so it feels nice. Now we need to work on the small details just to get the bike on point, because it’s not quite there yet especially in terms of stability. But we’ll work tomorrow and let’s see what the conditions are like, it will be more important than usual to be up the front because the conditions can change quickly and impact the times.”
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“It seems like this track won’t be so bad for us, but we do have typical Assen weather! This means we haven’t had much time to work on settings and establishing our capabilities in the dry, but fortunately both our riders are in the Top 10 already which is good ahead of tomorrow. We’ll stay focused and concentrated and see what’s possible during qualifying.”
MOTUL TT ASSEN – Combined Classification after DAY1:
1. M. VIÑALES – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – 01:33.072
2. P. ESPARGARO – Repsol Honda Team – 01:33.183 +0.111
3. M. OLIVEIRA – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 01:33.400 +0.159
4. F. QUARTARARO – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – 01:33.491 +0.250
5. A. RINS – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 01:33.501 +0.429
6. M. MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 01:33.560 +0.319
7. J. MIR – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 01:33.701 +0.460
8. J. ZARCO – Pramac Racing – 01:33.708 +0.467
9. D. PETRUCCI – Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing – 01:33.939 +0.867
10. A. ESPARGARO – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – 01:33.993 +0.921
11. T. NAKAGAMI – LCR Honda IDEMITSU – 01:34.004 +0.932
12. J. MILLER – Ducati Lenovo Team – 01:34.066 +0.825
13. L. SAVADORI – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – 01:34.098 +1.026
14. F. BAGNAIA – Ducati Lenovo Team – 01:34.265 +1.193
15. J. MARTIN – Pramac Racing – 01:34.339 +1.098
16. A. MARQUEZ – LCR Honda CASTROL – 01:34.358 +1.117
17. V. ROSSI – Petronas Yamaha SRT – 01:34.431 +1.359
18. B. BINDER – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 01:34.491 +1.419
19. I. LECUONA – Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing – 01:34.510 +1.438
20. E. BASTIANINI – Avintia Esponsorama – 01:34.658 +1.417
21. L. MARINI – SKY VR46 Avintia – 01:35.506 +2.434
22. G. GERLOFF – Petronas Yamaha SRT – 01:35.744 +2.503
Espargaro shows his speed in Assen while Marquez walks away from heavy high side
An impressive morning performance from Pol Espargaro marked a positive start to round nine of the World Championship as both he and team-mate Marc Marquez hold provisional spots in the top ten after the opening day in the Netherlands.
Conditions at the TT Circuit Assen deteriorated throughout the course of the day on Friday, mild morning temperatures giving way to splashes of rain in the afternoon. The Repsol Honda Team did well to work around the conditions to make the most of the clear track time. Morning times would prove crucial as falls and the rain upset running in the afternoon for both riders.
Pol Espargaro’s weekend in Assen got off to a strong start as he worked through Free Practice 1, sitting inside the top two for all but a few minutes of the first session. A 1’33.183 saw him end the opening practice of the day 0.111s back from the top spot and provided a good morale boost for the weekend overall. A harmless fall at Turn 5 and then rain meant that Espargaro was unable to improve on his FP1 time in the afternoon, but as a result ended the day second overall. In the end, Friday in Assen proved to be an overwhelmingly positive start to the weekend for the #44.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda Team garage, Marc Marquez went straight back to work after his emotional win in Germany. A productive first practice session helped Marquez to build a foundation for the Dutch weekend, almost immediately improving his time early in FP2. But a heavy fall at Turn 10 in Free Practice 2 unfortunately ended his afternoon prematurely. The vicious high side saw Marquez walk away without any major injury, he and his team working to prevent similar crashes in the future.
All eyes will be on the sky tomorrow morning for Free Practice 3 at 09:55 Local Time Saturday, June 26 to see if the rain will return or if there will be a final chance to fight for Q2 positions.
“Today has been a good day, the bike was working well, I was riding happy, and I was riding really how I wanted to. Everything was coming in an easy way; I wasn’t having to push or override the bike. In the afternoon we had plans to try some other things, but the track changed a lot even with light rain. Overall, the result is very good and I’m really happy with how the day has gone. The new asphalt is really good, it has a lot of grip and helped make it a really good first day. The crash today was a very small one, my leathers weren’t even damaged! Today the lap time shows how happy I am riding the bike.”
“First of all I have to say I feel lucky to escape in a good condition overall, these kinds of crashes can be very hard and very dangerous. It’s painful, but nothing is wrong. It was a strange crash because I didn’t think that I was over the limit and I was riding like I was in the morning, finding the limit and what way to follow. In this corner we rely on the Traction Control a lot, but it wasn’t there and when I shifted the rear started sliding and then I fell. We need to understand what happened to get the confidence to push through that corner again because right now, there will be a lack of confidence tomorrow. Before this we were having a positive day and in Free Practice 2 I was feeling good.
GRAND PRIX OF THE NETHERLANDS
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team have kicked off their Motul TT Assen preparations today, capitalising on the dry track time in FP1 and at the start of FP2. Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo both shared a positive first impression of the resurfaced TT Circuit Assen and finished 1st and 4th respectively in the combined timesheets.
LOCAL TIME: 14:10 GMT+2
AIR TEMPERATURE: 20°C
TRACK TEMPERATURE: 22°C
WEATHER: CLOUDY / HUMIDITY 70%
MORE CIRCUIT INFO
1’33.072 (FP1) / 23 + 14 LAPS
1’33.491 (FP2) / 19 + 13 LAPS
Mixed and unpredictable conditions at the TT Circuit Assen on the first day of the Dutch GP meant that Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo had to pounce when the opportunity to get dry hot laps in presented itself. Their strategy for the opening sessions of Round 9 paid off as they banked the first and fourth fastest time of the day, which could prove especially valuable should it rain during tomorrow‘s FP3.
Viñales was quick to head out and get to work in the morning session. He was keen to make up for a difficult weekend at the Sachsenring and quickly put his YZR-M1 at the top of the timesheets in the early stages, before getting serious with his bike‘s setting. He soon found a good rhythm and set multiple provisional P1 times. Top Gun really put his M1 to the test at the end of FP1. He wrapped up the session with a 0.111s advantage over second place, thanks to a 1‘33.072s, set on lap 22/23.
The number-12 rider kept up his impressive pace in the afternoon, setting a 1‘33.241s early on in the session, again putting his name at the top of the standings. He then began with fine-tuning his bike‘s set-up a bit further and was planning to do some tyre comparisons, but soon a slight drizzle halted the FP2 progress. With the track surface neither dry nor wet, the Yamaha man opted to wait for the track to be fully wet before heading out again to get a feel for the conditions. With no further opportunity to put in hot laps, he ended the session solidly in first place in the FP2 and combined timesheets with a 0.111s advantage over his closest rival, thanks to his best morning time.
Quartararo made the most of the dry FP1 track time, putting in three runs in total to collect valuable data on the medium front and hard rear tyre. His fondness for the Assen track shone through as he picked up his pace. Whilst focusing on getting his dry set-up ready, he secured fourth in the timesheets in the process when he dropped a 1‘33.633s on lap 18/19. He ended the morning session 0.561s from the front.
El Diablo was motivated to shave off a bit more time in FP2 by making the most of the nimble character of the Yamaha at the Assen track. He bettered his personal best lap to a 1‘33.491s for third in the FP2 rankings, before rain temporarily stopped the track action. The Frenchman got a first impression of riding in the wet in the final eight minutes of the session, which will be useful information should rain persist during the Dutch GP weekend. His fastest lap, set on lap 4/13, earned him fourth place in combined results, with a 0.419s margin to first.
We had a good first day at the Dutch GP weekend, it‘s just a shame that some of our work was cut short due to the sudden rain in FP2. During the dry track time in FP1 and at the start of FP2, we made positive first steps. The M1 suits the Assen track incredibly well, to the point that it looks like it‘s been made for it. Our riders are both feeling very positive about their performance level, should we have all dry sessions this weekend. However, this is Assen… Here it can rain at any moment, like we saw today. The showers in FP2 weren‘t predicted and it spoiled our plans to try various tyre options. But, on the bright side, once the track was fully wet, it at least gave Maverick and Fabio the opportunity to get a first feel for the new track surface in rainy conditions, whilst trying not to take any unnecessary risks. All in all, we are quite satisfied with how we started the weekend, but we are careful not to get ahead of ourselves. The weekend is long, and you never know what might happen here, so we are going to stay focused and keep paying close attention to how the weather forecasts develop over the weekend.
Today went well. Honestly, I didn‘t expect to be that competitive and fast. When in FP1 I saw a 1‘33.0s with twenty laps on the tyre, I thought ’That‘s a fast lap time, honestly‘. And this afternoon, I was cruising and trying to get a better understanding, so this 1‘33.2s was also good. Basically, I found good grip on the bike, and I can do more or less what I want on track. I can ride the lines I like, and that seems to pay off in the lap times.
This was a positive first day. In FP1 the soft gave me a bit of a strange feeling, so taking that into account, looking at my pace, it wasn‘t that bad. In FP2 we tried the medium front and the hard rear, because we knew that the conditions could change any moment, and it was good to also have given the hard tyre a try. I think we did a good job. On the wet, I was a bit too careful because I‘m in a situation where I don‘t want to make any stupid mistakes, but I feel like today was a normal day for us. We found the feeling, it is there. We need to improve in a few corners where I was struggling today, but let‘s say we‘re already in a great position.