Continuing from part one the racing further down the pack the 2019 Assen TT Motogp race was just exciting.
In Assen, the Ducati bikes suffered because of a lack of grip in the heat. All three GP19 riders – Dovizioso, Petrucci and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) – commented that the heat of the afternoon affected the feeling of the bike a lot. When the Desmosedici has little rear grip it cannot make use of its biggest weapon – its engine – and without this it is too weak on a circuit like Assen where so much time is spent where it does not like to be, on the side of the tyre.
Danilo Petrucci appeared to slumber in the final corner, and that allowed Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha MotoGP) to make a neat lunge on his inside at the final corner for fifth place, the Italian’s best result in MotoGP and a good response to Barcelona when he crashed twice, including that huge high side at turn thirteen on Saturday. Morbidelli was also very strong at the end of the race, and faster than Mir, Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) who were ahead of him. He passed all three between lap twenty-one and twenty-six, although he ran out of time to think about Dovizioso.
Danilo Petrucci took sixth place as a result of Morbidelli’s last corner move after battling with Dovizioso for most of the race whilst suffering the same grip issues as the #04.
Cal Crutchlow passed Joan Mir on lap twenty-five. He might have been able to go with Morbidelli, but had to go wide in turn one after the Italian had passed him to avoid the #21 which cost him 2.5 seconds to the satellite Yamaha. It had been a difficult weekend in entirety for Crutchlow, who was 1.2 seconds off pole (despite being sixth) and suffered with grip, like the Ducati riders, in the afternoon.
Joan Mir was eighth for his equal best result in MotoGP. The rookie’s short battle with the two factory Ducati was somewhat reminiscent of the battle between Bradley Smith – then on Tech3 Yamaha – and the two factory Ducati bikes, then of Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden, at the 2013 Dutch TT. Unlike Mir, Smith came out on top, but the Ducati was a much different machine then, Suzuki didn’t exist in MotoGP and Smith finished ninth, behind Aleix Espargaro on the Aspar CRT Aprilia, 33.751 seconds off the pace. In comparison, Mir’s eighth was 24.268 seconds off the win, fifteen seconds off the podium.
Jack Miller’s ninth place was his worst finishing position of the season, but also only his fifth finish from eight races. Miller’s style has often not suited the flowing tracks, and with Ducati this is emphasised. When you look at his best results of the season (third in Texas, fourth in Le Mans and fourth in Argentina) you see that they are ones with some hard braking and, in the case of Argentina, where the bike spins a lot. They are tracks where you can make lap time without using the edge of the tyre.
Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) took his first top ten with Aprilia, which was a welcome result after a difficult start to life in Noale, although the weekend was a strong one from The Maniac despite starting down in twentieth.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was eleventh and once again the top KTM. The Spaniard said he would only ride if there was a chance of points such was the pain he was in to ride as a result of his Barcelona testing crash.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was also in pain to ride after he was hit by Bradley Smith at Barcelona. The Catalan rode with a reported broken femur and a bone edema to twelfth place, ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3). Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was in the top ten before rear tyre problems dropped him to fourteenth, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who completed the points.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) finished sixteenth, whilst Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) remounted after a crash to finish one lap down in seventeenth.
After Alex Rins dropped the #42 Suzuki on lap three, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) ended yet another miserable weekend in the gravel to DNF a third consecutive race for the first time since 2011. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) was the unfortunate victim of Rossi’s crash, as the Italian was trying to pass Nakagami when he fell at turn eight. Nakagami was rag-dolled quite heavily. Rossi went to check he was okay whilst the Japanese was lying in the gravel trap next to the barrier, and after a trip to the medical centre the #30 was declared fit and will be okay to ride at Sachsenring.
Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the final retirement, when he pulled the KTM into pit lane ten laps from the flag.
Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing