MotoGP: Bagnaia Takes Dominant Win as Podium Changes After Flag for DutchGP

In the last race before the 5-week summer break, the iconic Assen TT circuit has given us another brilliant race with difficult conditions and a close field to overcome.

Pecco Bagnaia has mastered the tricky, hot track conditions at the DutchGP to take a truly dominant victory. He led almost every lap of the race on his way to extending his championship lead.

After his brilliant pole positions and sprint race win, Marco Bezzecchi was thrilled with another podium today as he came home in 2nd place. He dropped back to 3rd at the race start, giving himself the challenge of fighting with Brad Binder for 2nd.

It was Binder who crossed the line in 3rd but, after a dramatic post-flag penalty for exceeding track limits, he was demoted to 4th. Replays showed that the South African touched the green part of the kerb with a fraction of his front tire – however, this was enough to set off the sensors and land him a penalty. He will feel very hard done by after facing the same fate in yesterday’s sprint race – It was the same kerb at the same part of the race that saw him miss out on a podium.

This meant that Aleix Espargraro was promoted to the 3rd place after a really positive race for the Aprilia rider. This is his first podium of the year – a surprise to many after his very strong showing at pre-season testing. He will be hoping to carry this momentum through the summer break and on to Silverstone in 5 weeks time. It was an impressive run for Espgararo who was nursing an injured bike after contact with Luca Marini’s rear tire at the start of the race.

Image Credit: MotoGP

It was a much more difficult day for Jack Miller, celebrating his 200th race, and Johann Zarco, celebrating his 250th race. Miller was the first rider to go down on lap 2, followed by Zarco, who was taken out by Fabio Quartararo on lap 3.

In the end, we only had 14 riders complete the full 26 lap race thanks to a number of riders falling victim to the 50-degree track temperatures and the numerous issues this caused.

As It Happened

As the riders made their way on to the grid, we were able to see their tire choices and how the riders were aiming to tackle the undoubtedly hot and greasy track conditions – tires were always going to prove crucial today. All riders, except two, were on the hard front tires. Half the grid then opted for a soft rear tire, the other half opting for a medium rear. Most notably were Brad Binder and Jack Miller who had opted for that soft rear – it looked as though they were aimed for a strong start to the race with that choice.

The lights went out and, as anticipated, there was quickly a lot of action up and down the grid. Polesitter, Marco Bezzecchi was swallowed by the chasing pack and quickly dropped down to 3rd. Binder, in typical Binder fashion, had a flying start. He saw a small gap on the inside of turn 1 and made a very late move, throwing his bike up and into the lead.

Further back, Jack Miller was sitting in 8th and hunting down Maverick Vinales in 7th. He then made a move on the start-finish straight at the start of lap 2. However, as Vinales tried to retake the position, Miller lost the bike under him slid out into the gravel at turn 1. Thanks to this clear air, Vinales was able to then take fastest lap.

It wasn’t long before the next incident and on lap 3, Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco went down at turn 7- the fastest part of the track. The replays showed that the front of Quartararo’s bike folded underneath him and he collected Zarco as he went down. It was clearly a huge impact for both riders, who looked battered and bruised. Quartararo was then helped out of the gravel as he limped away.

It was on the same lap that Pecco Bagnaia stole the lead away from Binder.

One more lap later, it was Vinales’ turn to go down. He was making moves up the field but sadly went down at turn 8. That’s four riders going down across 3 laps!

All these incidents helped to promote Jorge Martin, Miguel Oliveira and Alex Marquez who were running in 6th, 7th and 8th respectively. There was now a huge battle for 5th place, with 6 riders all in the fight. On lap 6, Luca Marini, who had been leading this pack, fell back from 5th to 10th in the space on one corner. This meant that Aleix Espargaro, running in a comfortable 4th, was gifted a 2.5s gap over this fighting group.

On lap 7, Enea Bastianini crashed out at turn 5 whilst running in 8th – he tried to get the bike back up and running again but it was a lost cause as the flames started to appear at the back of the Ducati machine.

At the midpoint of the race, we still had Bagnaia leading the field, with Binder hot on his tail in 2nd. Binder was able to gain a huge amount on the leader in every breaking zone, but wasn’t able to convert this into a move for the lead.

Everything across the field seemed to calm down as we drew ever closer to the chequered flag. The biggest drama came when Oliveira, running in 10th, made a mistake at turn 15. He then retired a lap later, suggesting it was a mechanical issue. A few laps later, we then had Iker Lecuona drop to the back of the field before also retiring with a mechanical issue. Lecuona is here this weekend to stand in for the injured Joan Mir.

With the laps ticking down now, Bezzecchi decided now was the time to make a move and lay down his intentions to win. On lap 17 of 26, he made a move on Binder, who tried hard to counter this. This battle then gave a 1.2s lead for Bagnaia.

Bezzecchi, now in 2nd and with some clean air in front of him, was gaining between 0.3s and 0.4s per lap on Bagnaia and looked like he might be making a late move for the victory.

After losing 2nd place, Binder was now in 3rd and falling back in to the clutches of Espargaro who was desperately seeking his first podium of the year.

There were gaps forming between most riders on the grid now and it appeared that the hot track conditions were hampering everyone from making late moves.

This meant that nothing changed on the track and Bagnaia took the chequered flag, ahead of Bezzcchi and Binder. Espargaro came home in 4th, but would soon be promoted to 3rd after Binder’s last lap penalty for track limits.

Jorge Martin, despite a difficult weekend where he seemed to be quite off the pace, came home in 5th. He was just ahead of Alex Marquez in 6th, Luca Marini in 7th and Takaaki Nakagami in 8th. Rounding out the top 10 were Franco Morbidelli in 9th and Augusto Fernandez in 10th.

Full Results
1 Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo
2 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
3 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
4 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
5 Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
6 Alex Marquez Gresini Racing
7 Luca Marini Mooney VR46
8 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
9 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha
10 Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Tech3
11 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia
12 Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
13 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda
14 Jonas Folger GASGAS Tech3
Championship Standings
1 Pecco Bagnaia 194 points
2 Jorge Martin 159 points
3 Marco Bezzecchi 158 points
4 Brad Binder 114 points
5 Johann Zarco 109 points

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Dixon Races to First Grand Prix Win

Jake Dixon takes his first-ever Grand Prix win at Assen after an incredible race. He was joined by Ai Ogura and Pedro Acosta on the podium.

Both Alonso Lopez and Ogura had a good start off the line, but Lopez was able to hold onto the lead from pole position. Sam Lowes and Dixon lost places off the start with Lowes dropping to tenth. Tony Arbolino capitalised on the bad starts and moved himself up from tenth on the grid to sixth place.

Into the final chicane, Acosta was able to get past the championship leader Arbolino. The Spaniard continued to ride fast as he set the fastest time on the second tour of the circuit.

Lopez began to extend his lead out from Ogura to over half a second. Fermin Aldeguer was riding in fourth place but continued to lose time to the riders ahead of him, dropping over one second behind Dixon on the third lap.

Arbolino was unable to continue his move up the field and started falling down the grid from lap five.

Acosta started to close the gap to Dixon, who in turn was attempting to get past Ogura but failed.

Dixon and Ogura started to catch up to then race leader Lopez by lap six and worked together to bring the gap down.

Aldeguer cut the chicane on lap seven and was given a long lap penalty as the stewards determined that he did not lose enough time when returning to the track. The Beta Tools SpeedUp rider was in fourth place when it was given.

Dixon finally got past Ogura into turn one on lap nine and Arbolino was able to get past Albert Arenas on the same lap. After dispatching Ogura, Dixon continued to close in on Lopez.

On lap ten, Dixon looked for a move past Lopez at turn one but was unable to get past. Somkiat Chantra crashed at turn one on the same lap, causing a yellow flag in sector one.

The long lap loop had been catching some riders out, but Aldeguer completed it without an issue. He went into it fast but was still able to brake when he needed to and did not venture onto the green. Due to this, Arbolino made a mistake allowing Aron Canet to get past.

The battle for fourth place between Acosta and Ogura continued through lap eleven with the Spaniard trying to move on the Japanese rider but it could not stick. Dixon was also looking for a space around Lopez to try and take the lead.

Dixon got a good run out of the final corner and was able to overtake Lopez into turn one to lead the race. After this overtake, Lopez began to drop down the order as Ogura was able to pass him into the final chicane and Acosta passed him on the next lap.

Ogura and Acosta were both faster than Dixon on lap fourteen, eating slightly into his lead and the Brit lost the lead of the race on lap fifteen by running wide at turn five. But into the final chicane, Acosta lost front grip and had to make an amazing save to keep himself in the race, dropping himself to third. The stewards gave Acosta a long lap penalty for this due to him not losing one second in the sector.

After these mistakes, Ogura was able to extend the lead at the front of the race to just over one second, but Dixon was able to save some tyre and started to catch up to the Japanese rider. He began setting personal best laps, slowly reducing the gap between himself and first place.

Acosta took his long lap penalty on the nineteenth lap but did make a mistake by running onto the green paint. This would usually mean that the rider would need to retake the loop, but the stewards were happy with the penalty, even though he did not lose any places.

Dixon was able to close the gap up to less than two-tenths of a second on lap nineteen and got a brilliant drive out of the final chicane on the following lap. The slipstream was on the side of Dixon who sped past Ogura across the start-finish straight, but they touched into the first corner. Ogura ran wide but did not drop any places.

The lead into the final lap for Dixon was over one second and he comfortably completed the final tour of the circuit to cross the line in first place to win his first-ever Grand Prix race.

Aldeguer improved up to fourth place and was looking to make a move on Acosta but was unable to.

Lopez finished the race in sixth place ahead of Arbolino, Manuel Gonzalez, Arenas and Vietti who closed out the top ten.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

DUTCH MOTO2 GRAND PRIX, ASSEN – RACE RESULTS
POS RIDER NAT TEAM BIKE TIME
1 Jake Dixon GBR Inde GASGAS Aspar Team (Kalex) 35m 43.411s
2 Ai Ogura JPN IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 35m 44.745s
3 Pedro Acosta SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) 35m 47.859s
4 Fermín Aldeguer SPA Beta Tools SpeedUp (Boscoscuro) 35m 47.898s
5 Aron Canet SPA Pons Wegow Los40 (Kalex) 35m 48.295s
6 Alonso Lopez SPA Beta Tools SpeedUp (Boscoscuro) 35m 52.966s
7 Tony Arbolino ITA Elf Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 35m 53.036s
8 Manuel Gonzalez SPA Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 (Kalex) 35m 53.958s
9 Albert Arenas SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) 35m 54.026s
10 Celestino Vietti ITA Fantic Racing (Kalex) 35m 54.172s
11 Sam Lowes GBR Elf Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 35m 59.375s
12 Barry Baltus BEL Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 36m 1.645s
13 Sergio Garcia SPA Pons Wegow Los40 (Kalex) 36m 3.819s
14 Darryn Binder RSA Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) 36m 4.050s
15 Jeremy Alcoba SPA QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 (Kalex) 36m 7.903s
16 Lukas Tulovic GER Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) 36m 12.827s
17 Carlos Tatay SPA OnlyFans American Racing (Kalex) 36m 15.851s
18 Joe Roberts USA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 36m 18.428s
19 Dennis Foggia ITA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 36m 18.646s
20 Zonta Vd Goorbergh NED Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 36m 33.805s
21 Taiga Hada JPN Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team (Kalex) 36m 53.179s
22 Yeray Ruiz SPA Forward Team (Forward) +3 laps
  Filip Salac CZE QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 (Kalex) DNF
  Borja Gomez SPA Fantic Racing (Kalex) DNF
  Alex Escrig SPA Forward Team (Forward) DNF
  Izan Guevara SPA Inde GASGAS Aspar Team (Kalex) DNF
  Sean Dylan Kelly USA OnlyFans American Racing (Kalex) DNF
  Somkiat Chantra THA IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) DNF

 

Moto2: Lopez Takes Pole by Nine Thousandths of a Second

Alonso Lopez stormed to pole position with a pole position record ahead of Jake Dixon and Ai Ogura who join him on the front row for tomorrow’s race.

In Q1, all eyes were on Barry Baltus, Celestino Vietti and Sergio Garcia as they fought for the four spots available to progress through to Q2. After the first set of laps, the spots were filled by Baltus, Vietti, Garcia and Jeremy Alcoba.

After setting a good lap time, Garcia crashed at turn one causing a yellow flag with two minutes to go. Lukas Tulovic crossed the start-finish line but was only able to set the fifth fastest time. Even with the yellow flag, he still had time to complete another fast lap.

However, due to the yellow flag, no rider was able to set a faster lap time and Baltus, Alcoba, Vietti and Garcia were the riders who went through to the second round of qualifying.

The next fifteen minutes were dedicated to finding the riders who would set the top eighteen places for the grid tomorrow. All the riders came out as soon as the green flag was flown except Ai Ogura, Aron Canet and Somkiat Chantra.

After the first set of runs, Dixon set a 1:36.304 – the all-time pole record around the TT Circuit Assen. He was followed by Acosta, Fermin Aldeguer, Sam Lowes and Manuel Gonzalez.

Dixon almost set a faster lap time, as he was up on his own time in the first two sectors but was met with traffic in the third sector, meaning he was unable to improve. Acosta had his second flying lap deleted due to exceeding track limits. Vietti jumped up to second place ahead of Albert Arenas.

Ogura jumped to the top of the timesheets with a lap 0.003 seconds faster than Dixon who had just gone into the pits to change his tyres and headed out for a second set of lap times. Pedro Acosta was able to improve on his lap time to set the third fastest lap time but was still a quarter of a second down on the lap time from Ogura.

With four minutes left, Vietti crashed in sector one causing a yellow flag for the riders behind, but Dixon was lucky in that he was coming to the end of his lap when the caution came out and set a faster lap once again and Sam Lowes also improved to fourth place.

Arenas had the potential to set a quick time after setting the fastest first two sectors but was unable to put the rest of the lap together and set the seventh fastest lap time.

Aron Canet crashed at turn one with two minutes left in the session causing a yellow flag. Lopez was incredibly lucky to have passed through sector one before the Pons Wegow Los40 rider went down and was able to set a 1:36.247, which is a pole position record and only nine thousandths of a second faster than Dixon just behind him. Ogura joins the Spaniard and Brit on the front row tomorrow.

Aldeguer leads the second row ahead of Lowes and Acosta in front of the third row which consists of Chantra, Arenas and Vietti.

Championship leader Tony Arbolino was only able to set a time fast enough for tenth place on the grid tomorrow.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

2023 DUTCH MOTO2 GRAND PRIX, ASSEN – QUALIFYING RESULTS
POS RIDER NAT TEAM BIKE TIME
1 Alonso Lopez SPA Beta Tools SpeedUp (Boscoscuro) 1m 36.247s
2 Jake Dixon GBR Inde GASGAS Aspar Team (Kalex) 1m 36.256s
3 Ai Ogura JPN IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 1m 36.301s
4 Fermín Aldeguer SPA Beta Tools SpeedUp (Boscoscuro) 1m 36.481s
5 Sam Lowes GBR Elf Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 36.528s
6 Pedro Acosta SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) 1m 36.560s
7 Somkiat Chantra THA IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 1m 36.564s
8 Albert Arenas SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) 1m 36.603s
9 Celestino Vietti ITA Fantic Racing (Kalex) 1m 36.663s
10 Tony Arbolino ITA Elf Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 36.738s
11 Aron Canet SPA Pons Wegow Los40 (Kalex) 1m 36.763s
12 Manuel Gonzalez SPA Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 (Kalex) 1m 36.827s
13 Filip Salac CZE QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 (Kalex) 1m 36.850s
14 Joe Roberts USA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 37.045s
15 Darryn Binder RSA Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) 1m 37.133s
16 Barry Baltus BEL Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 1m 37.136s
17 Sergio Garcia SPA Pons Wegow Los40 (Kalex) 1m 37.512s
18 Jeremy Alcoba SPA QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 (Kalex) 1m 37.691s
19 Lukas Tulovic GER Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) 1m 37.223s
20 Carlos Tatay SPA OnlyFans American Racing (Kalex) 1m 37.384s
21 Izan Guevara SPA Inde GASGAS Aspar Team (Kalex) 1m 37.407s
22 Sean Dylan Kelly USA OnlyFans American Racing (Kalex) 1m 37.517s
23 Zonta Vd Goorbergh NED Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 1m 37.518s
24 Borja Gomez SPA Fantic Racing (Kalex) 1m 37.551s
25 Dennis Foggia ITA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 37.738s
26 Yeray Ruiz SPA Forward Team (Forward) 1m 37.742s
27 Taiga Hada JPN Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team (Kalex) 1m 38.113s
28 Alex Escrig SPA Forward Team (Forward) 1m 38.134s

 

Legendary track lives up to the name!

Qualifying:

Dark clouds loomed above the Assen track, just waiting to burst, making every lap count for the riders.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) made the most of it and secured his 4th pole position this season ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Jorge Martin (Ducati) in 3rd.

Honda rider Pol Espargaro would be sitting out of Sunday’s race due to damage to his ribs and even though he set 3rd fastest lap Martin would be racing with an infected wrist.

Race:

The weather wasn’t exactly clear blue sky, but it was declared dry for race day.

The action started almost immediately: with lights out Joan Mir (Suzuki) and Luca Marini (VR46) collided into eachother, while Bagnaia got a flying start. Quartararo went wide on the first corner ending up in 4th place, but managed to pass Martin and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) through turns 2 and 3 to take back 2nd. Aleix wasn’t just going to let him have the spot though and on the next corner passed him right back. Slightly further back Marco Bezzechi (VR46) passed Jack Miller (Ducati) for 5th. As the first lap ended would the momentum continue for the rest of the race?

Leading the pack. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Starting lap two and Bagnaia led A. Espargaro, Quartararo and Martin.

By lap 3 Aleix had secured fastest lap while the rookie Bezzechi made a move on Martin to take 4th.

Bagnaia was having issues in front trying to shake Aleix. Behind him Fabio took fastest lap and was chasing them both down.

Lap 4 saw Miller take his penalty from qualifying in the form of another long-lap penalty. We all know how last weeks penalty ended up, would history repeat itself this time?

Suddenly with 22 laps to go El Diablo made a move out of nowhere, trying to undertake Espargaro into turn 5. Resulting in both the top championship contenders colliding into the gravel. Aleix managed to remain upright on his Aprilia and rejoin the race, albeit in 15th. Seconds later Fabio had also rejoined the race, in last position behind his teammate. Bagnaia, oblivious to the carnage behind him, then had a 1.064 second lead ahead of Bezzechi and Martin.

There didn’t seem to be any significant damage to Espargaro’s bike as he started to take positions back. By lap 8 he was in 14th place. Now a man on a mission, how far back up the pack could he manage?

Meanwhile the Yamaha weekend was going bad to worse as Frankie Morbidelli crashed out on the same corner as Fabio 2 laps later. On the next lap, turn 8, Darryn Binder also ended his race early and Fabio pulled into the pits to try to retire but was told by his team to go back out, with 17 laps left – this would prove to be a mistake.

Alex Rins (Suzuki) was Espargaro’s next target managing to pass him on lap 9 for 13th while his teammate, Maverick Vinales made a move on Brad Binder (KTM) to claim 4th place on lap 11.

The man on the move – Espargaro then made quick work of both the Gresini racers taking 11th and with it another fastest lap.

Yamaha’s mistake sending Quartararo back out to race resulted in yellow flags being waved for him on lap 13, where once again on turn 5 Quartararo crashed for a second time. This time high-siding from his bike and looking like he’d hurt himself.

Second crash. Courtesy of: BT Sport, Moto GP Twitter page.

Following on from his penalty Miller was up to 6th place by lap 15. Behind him Johann Zarco (Ducati) and Joan Mir (Suzuki) were battling for 8th but, it was Espargaro that calculated a move passing them both claiming the 8th spot for himself.

By this time there were wet weather flags being waved by the marshals, declaring it a wet race. The riders had a choice to either stay out on track or go the pits and swap their bikes. It must not have been raining very hard as no rider decided to swap.

Lap 18 and Vinales took 3rd place from Martin. Was Martin’s wrist starting to hurt from the infection? Was the rain starting to affect visibility or tyres? Whatever was effecting Martin he fell back to 6th. But his troubles didn’t end there – going from strength to strength Aleix made up another place with 7 laps to go and was catching Martin who was 2.176 seconds ahead. Could he manage to catch him in time for the chequered flag?

Next lap and Miller managed to pass his teammate for next year – Binder to take 4th.

By this point of the race, the rain seemed to have eased and the flags had stopped waving. With tension mounting could Bagnaia hold on for just 5 more laps or would the pressure get to him? Would the rookie be able to remain in his podium position? Could Vinales keep his first podium place for Aprilia? Where would Aleix end up? Would there be a classic Assen surprise at the end?

Miller was stalking Vinales and was looking likely to take the last spot on the podium, Maverick was riding defensively though – Miller knew he had to make a move and decided to with 1 lap to go but, he went wide and Maverick took it back. While behind them Espargaro had clawed the seconds down between himself and Martin and had taken 6th.

Last lap – Bagania led Bezzechi and Vinales but as they were crossing the line the Assen surprise came in the form of Espargaro taking 4th place, passing both Binder and Miller in a breathtaking pass on the last corner. In doing so claiming some more all-important championship points. Now with only 21 points between him and Quartararo.

Celebrating over the line. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top ten race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

M. Bezzechi

3rd

M. Vinales

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

B. Binder

6th

J. Miller

7th

J. Martin

8th

J. Mir

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

A. Rins

Vinales claimed his first Aprilia podium, Bezzechi claimed his first premier class podium, along with VR46’s first Moto GP podium and all was forgiven between Fabio and Aleix, after Fabio apologised to the Aprilia team and to Aleix.

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

172 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

151 points

3rd

J. Zarco

114 points

4th

F. Bagnaia

106 points

Courtesy of: Moto GP website.
Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

 

 

With 5 weeks to wait for the next Moto GP round at Silverstone (August 5th/ 6th and 7th), the teams and riders can take a well earned rest and come back stronger. The championship is still wide open.

The first half of the season may now be over but what surprises will the second half have installed for us?

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Moto2: Fernandez Wins Action-Packed Dutch GP

Augusto Fernandez has taken back-to-back wins after taking victory in Assen. Ai Ogura enjoyed a phenomenal race as he fought his way back from 16th to 2nd. The final podium position was taken by our pole sitter, Jake Dixon, enjoying only his second ever Moto2 podium.

This year’s Dutch GP in Assen was a true spectacle with 24 laps full of action. For much of the race, we had a 7-way battle for the lead with no idea who would cross the line in the podium positions.

Augusto Fernandez eventually came out on top, enjoying back-to-back wins for only the second time in his career. With a clinical performance and well-timed moves, he took the lead on lap 17 and never looked back.

Second place went to Ai Ogura who was, arguably, the rider of the day. He faced two scary moments in the opening stages of the race, causing him to drop back to 16th.

The final podium spot went to this weekend’s polesitter, Jake Dixon. After struggling in the early stages, he found his rhythm in the latter stages and secured his second career podium.

It was a difficult day for Marcel Schrotter and Albert Arenas who had been part of the leading pack for most of the race. On lap 12, Schrotter crashed out from the lead, missing the opportunity for his maiden Moto2 win. Two laps before the checkered flag fell, Arenas also crashed out, missing out on his maiden Moto2 podium.

Despite starting on the front row, Sam Lowes also faced a difficult race. He was forced out wide on the first corner of the first lap, meaning he tumbled down to the back of the grid, before then crashing on lap 4.

Our championship leader Celestino Vietti, having started the race in 11th, was able to capitalise on these misfortunes to come home in 4th. He brought with him the home hero, Bo Bendsneyder, who crossed the line in with a career-best 5th.

Alonso Lopez, after flying off the line at the start of the race and enjoying a strong battle with the leading pack, slipped back down the grid in the latter stages of the race and ended the day in 6th.

Rounding out the top 10 was Tony Arbolino, Joe Roberts, Manuel Gonzalez and Filip Salac who all enjoyed a relatively quiet race in comparison to the leading group.

The weekend’s action was missing Aron Canet, who is still struggling with consistent nose bleeds after a car crash a few weeks ago, and Pedro Acosta, who is recovering from surgery after a training crash a few days ago.

As we head into the 5-week summer break, momentum is clearly with Fernandez. However, the battle will be hot when the grid returns in Silverstone, as the top three championship contenders are covered by just 1 point.

 

As It Happened

As the lights went out, Dixon and Lowes got a brilliant start, flying off the line. Lowes came up alongside Arenas and looked set to steal 2nd from him. However, as Lopez switched to the inside of Turn 1, he pushed Lowes wide and sent him tumbling down the order. It was a late and aggressive move from Lopez which saw Lowes sent to the back of the grid. A few corners later and Lopez was back at it again, making another aggressive move past Arenas to take 2nd.

Dixon, who had maintained the lead after his pole position start, was next on Lopez’s list. In a move that seemed to come from nowhere, Lopez snatched the lead away from the Brit rider and was leading the pack for the first time in his Moto2 career. As the grid crosses the line for the first time, Lopez was 1st, ahead of the Aspar duo of Dixon in 2nd and Arenas in 3rd. Schrotter was just behind in 4th, having started in 10th, with Ogura in 5th.

Image Credit: MotoGP

On the second lap, Ogura faced the first of two scary moments which forced him up and out of his seat as the bike wobbled beneath him. He dropped down to 9th before a similar issue on the following lap then caused him to drop further down to 16th. It appeared that his tires were not quite where he needed them to be.

On lap three, British rider Sam Lowes went down from the back of the grid to end a terrible race in the worst possible way. He will be undeniably disappointed after his strong qualifying performance.

Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, Schrotter was closing in on Lopez and looking like he wanted to challenge for the lead. On the following lap, Arenas made a move past his team mate, taking 3rd from Dixon. On lap nine, Dixon then loses 4th place to Fernandez. He thinks about fighting back and eventually makes a move a few corners later, only to move too late and almost lose 5th place to Bendsneyder. Dixon quickly swaps to defence mode and is able to remain in 5th.

On the following lap, Arenas makes a move past Lopez to take second place. Shortly after, Fernandez is also past Lopez, as the Spanish rider loses two places in as many corners.

At this point in the race, with 10 laps completed, the top five places were held by Schrotter in 1st, Arenas and Fernandez in 2nd and 3rd, followed by Lopez and Dixon in 4th and 5th. Just behind them, home hero Bendsneyder was able to squeeze past Arbolino in the final sector to take 6th. All this fighting allowed our championship leader, Vietti who was back in 8th, to catch up to the leading pack of seven and join in the fun. In the space of one lap, the gap ahead of Vietti dropped by half a second.

On lap 11, Schrotter crashed out of the lead, losing the opportunity to claim his maiden win. He went wide at Turn 5 which put him off the racing line. As he tried to correct the error, the bike dropped from underneath him. Meanwhile, Lopez and Fernandez were battling hard for second place, which they had inherited from Schrotter’s crash. The pair were swapping positions for most of lap 12 before Lopez came out on top.

Ss they started lap 13, it was Arenas in the lead, ahead of Lopez in 2nd and Fernandez in 3rd. Dixon was just behind in 4th with home hero Bendsneyder in 5th. Vietti was still in 8th with Ogura, his nearest championship rival, quickly catching up to him in 9th.

The battle for 8th was quickly hotting up with Vietti and Ogura swapping positions at every corner. Eventually, it is Ogura who comes out on top. Lopez’s struggles continue as he was forced to sit up at turn 1 of lap 16, sending him tumbling down the grid from 2nd to 6th. He is soon caught by Ogura whose pace was rapid.

On lap 17, we had another change at the front of the grid as Fernandez takes the lead from Arenas. With numerous battles going on behind them, the leading pair quickly find themselves with a 0.9-second lead.

With just four laps remaining, and plenty of on-track action going on, Fernandez is still leading the race, with Dixon now up to 2nd and Ogura in 3rd. Arenas had now slipped back to 4th but was still fighting for his maiden podium finish. Vietti was up to 5th, just ahead of Bendsneyder and Lopez. On the following lap, Ogura makes it past Dixon and into 2nd. The battle gifted Fernandez a 0.4-second, and a seemingly unbeatable, lead.

With just two laps remaining, Arenas cracks under the pressure and crashes at Turn 9. That first podium finish remains elusive for the Spaniard.

On the final lap, Fernandez had a 0.5-second lead ahead of Ogura and Dixon. With Vietti now in 4th, he made a late lunge, attempting to steal 3rd from Dixon. The pair met the checkered flag side-by-side but it was Dixon who came out on top.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Dixon takes a Dazzling Pole in Assen

Brit rider Jake Dixon has taken a fantastic pole ahead of tomorrow’s Dutch GP. He is joined on the front row by his teammate, Albert Arenas, and fellow Brit, Sam Lowes.

Tomorrow’s Dutch GP will see an Aspar 1-2 for the start of the race. Brit rider, Jake Dixon, secured pole with a time of 1.36.736 – his final lap of the session. His team mate, Albert Arenas, was just 0.01-seconds off the pace and will start tomorrow’s race from second.

A second Brit will also be on the front row, as Sam Lowes takes third for tomorrow’s face start. Just behind Lowes with be Ai Ogura in 4th and Alonso Lopez in a brilliant 5th. Home hero, Bo Bendsneyder will start the race from a strong 8th.

Further down the grid, Celestino Vietti, our championship leader, faced a challenging day. He crashed out during Q2 and was forced to settle with 11th for tomorrow’s race.

Image Credit: MotoGP
Qualifying 1

As the session started, Fermin Aldguer quickly faced an issue and was forced to head back to the pits. Having enjoyed a strong weekend so far, it was clear he was keen to get back on to the track as soon as possible.

As the first flying laps were completed, it was Jorge Navarro who topped the timing sheets with a 1.37.670. Manuel Gonzalez, Marcos Ramirez and Lorenzo Dalla Porta slotted in behind him, taking the provisional Q2-progression places. However, it should have been Barry Baltus at the top of the timing sheets – after taking a shortcut at the end of his outlap, his first flying lap was cancelled due to track limits. He cut the final chicane as a shortcut to give him extra speed at the start of the next lap.

With just less than 10 minutes left on the clock, Navarro improves, staying at the top of the timing sheets, with a 1.37.285. Ramirez jumped up to second and Dalla Porta leapt up to third, meaning that Gonzalez was shuffled down to fourth. Baltus, who was able to keep his next lap time on the board, was only able to slot in to 12th.

Aldeguer was back on the track and clearly pushing the bike to its very limits – the machine was twitching underneath him at the end of Sector 2. It took him a good few laps to get back on the pace, with his first lap only putting him in ninth.

With just over seven minutes to go, Dalla Porta improved on his time again. However, it wasn’t quite enough and he was soon shuffled down by Alessandro Zaccone, Gonzalez and Baltus who put themselves in 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

With 5 minutes left on the clock, Aldeguer temporarily leaps up to 2nd, only to have his lap time deleted for a track limits violation. He is clearly pushing as hard as he can after the mishap he faced at the start of the session. He keeps pushing and, with just over 3 minutes left of the session, he is able to jump to 2nd again – and this time it sticks! He pushes Baltus out of the top 4. Dalla Porta is the next to improve, jumping up to 3rd and pushing Gonzalez out of the top 4.

As the session draws to a close, Gonzalez makes up time in the final sector to jump up to 3rd. This pushes Aldeguer down to 5th with no opportunity left to improve. Finally, Baltus is able to steal 4th away from Dalla Porta in the final moments of the session.

Those progressing to Q2 are Navarro, Zaccone, Gonzalez and Baltus.

Qualifying 2

As the session starts, Baltus is the first out on track, clearly feeling in good form after his Q1 performance.

Bo Bendsneyder was also feeling in good form as he quickly went up to 2nd, with a 1.36.986. He sat just 0.1-seconds behind our early leader, Navarro. Dixon then slots in to third with his fastest lap of the weekend so far.

With 8 minutes left on the clock, championship leader Celestino Vietti crashes at turn 3. He locked the front, spun around and ended up in the kitty litter. He briefly considered getting back on the bike but the damage ended his session early. When his session ends, he is currently set for a second row start in tomorrow’s race. But just 1 minute later, he is shuffled back to the third row, leaving Vietti with a nervous wait in his pit box.

5 minutes are left on the clock when Joe Roberts leaps up to 2nd. Moments later, he is shuffled down to 3rd when Lowes takes provisional pole with a 1.36.767.

Augusto Fernandez then makes a risky move as he comes into the pits to change his tires with just 4 minutes remaining. With such little time on the board, he may struggle to get the tires up to temperature and into their sweet spot.

As the session draws to a close, Arenas takes pole away from Lowes, despite hitting traffic at the end of his lap. Ogura slots in to provisional third before Dixon crosses the line to leapfrog them all and snatch pole. Fernandez and his new tires are unable to secure a spot higher than 8th.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Red Hot Tracks This Season

The action on track was red hot last season, and most of the drama played out on some of the best tracks in the world. I’ve made a short list of my favourite tracks WorldSBK will be visiting this year, and a couple of reasons why I think so, and also who I will be tipping to take the win this year. What are your favourite tracks? We would love to hear via our social media channels.

2021 WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu. Picture courtesy of Yamaha Racing.

Donington Park – Great Britain ( Round 5 ) 15,16,17 July

  • Last years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu
  • This years winner race 1: Jonathan Rea ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? – Yamaha / Ducati

A staple on the WorldSBK calendar for many years, Donington Park is one of the classic British race tracks, also one of the oldest, being in operation since the 1930’s. It always produces close racing, with its mix of long sweeping corners, changes in elevation and also a handful of sharp, hard braking corners. It was also home to the British round of MotoGP, until being moved to Silverstone where it is currently held.

Jonathan Rea had a nightmare of a round last season, going off-road down the Craner Curves and crashing out later on. Toprak Razgatlioglu took full advantage of Rea’s misfortune, and scooped the race 1 win. I have a feeling Rea will be looking for retribution this year, and hopefully Kawasaki will have addressed the problems which plagued Rea last season, especially the nervous front end of the ZX10-RR. Rea however, will have his hands full keeping both the Yamaha’s and Ducati’s at bay.

Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Assen – Netherlands ( Round 2 ) 22,23,24 April

  • Last years winner race 1: Jonathan Rea
  • This years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? Yamaha

Another classic track, and one which many of the riders like. A fast, flowing track, with plenty of high speed sweeping corners, and also providing one of the best atmospheres, with the Dutch fans providing loads of noisy support. Toprak was unfortunately rammed into by Garrett Gerloff last year, sending the Turkish rider down, who was understandably furious after the race. And as Toprak had done in Donington, it was the turn of Rea to gladly snap up the win in race 1, going on to claim a clean sweep of wins in Assen.

It is a track which definitely suits the agile, smooth turning attributes of the Yamaha, and Toprak will no doubt be keen to right the wrong afflicted to him last season.

Race 2 Jerez Scott Redding and Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Portimao – Algarve, Portugal ( Round 9 ) 7,8,9 October

  • Last years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu
  • This years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu ??? 
  • Circuit favours which bike? Yamaha

If a track regularly gets described as a “rollercoaster” even someone who has no interest in racing will have some idea of what is meant. The architect who came up with the plans for Portimao, one Ricardo Pina, is an absolute genius. One of the most exciting, and dramatic race tracks ever constructed, Portimao has it all. Changes in elevation and camber, fast sweeping corners, entries into blind corners, and bikes flying over the tops of hills. Something the Australian Jack Miller demonstrated for us all, as he “bunny hoped” his MotoGP Ducati over the crest of one of the most scary corners on the track last season in MotoGP.

Jonathan Rea had a terrifying crash into one of the fastest corners last season, and amazingly was able to walk away unhurt. It provided a great race however, and was voted by Eurosport as the race of the season. Toprak was the man for the occasion and scooped the win for race 1. Scott Redding kept the Yamaha rider honest for much of the race, and the Ducati definitely had the pace to match the Yamaha over the sweeping corners.

I can see Toprak taking the win again this coming season, with perhaps pressure from Alvaro Bautista on the Ducati, or maybe from one of the young guns on the Honda, Iker Lecuona maybe?

Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding at Aragon Round 4 WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Honda Racing

Phillip Island, Australia ( Round 12 TBA )

  • Last years winner: N/A
  • This years winner: Alvaro Bautista ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? Ducati / Yamaha

With no racing in Australia for the past two years due to the Covid pandemic, everyone including fans will be desperate to see a return of racing to this iconic race track. No exact dates have yet been decided, but we hope we’ll see racing there some time in late November.

Another track with high speed, sweeping corners and dramatic vistas, Phillip Island has been the scene of some of the best motorcycle races of all time. Alvaro Bautista had an amazing start to his WorldSBK career back in 2019, and really lay down the challenge to the reigning champion, Jonathan Rea. Alvaro on the Ducati was really quick that season, and secured a couple of impressive wins early on in the season, including here at Phillip Island.

I think being reunited with the Ducati this season will be really good for Alvaro, and I can see him claiming a win here at Phillip Island, using all the power, and top end speed of the Ducati.

All in all, this is hopefully going to be another exciting and dramatic season of racing, and we cannot wait for the season opener in Aragon in April.

Get in touch with us, and let us know what you think will be the most exciting races in 2022.

 

Yamaha Whitewash at the Dutch GP

Qualifying:

At the newly resurfaced Assen track the Yamahas were flying high. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) claimed pole position and took the new lap record (1:31.814) in the process.

Both Vinales and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) were on the front row in first and second. With a surprise 3rd from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) taking fourth.

Smiles for the pole man. Courtesy of: Moto GP website

While the factory boys were settled on the front row Franko Morbidelli (Yamaha) was not to compete in the qualifying or the race as he had again injured his knee and would need to undergo surgery for it. Stepping into his shoes was Garrett Gerloff from World Superbikes.

During Friday’s practice, last weekend’s race winner – Marc Marquez had a mechanical failure which saw him propelled from his Repsol Honda. The Spaniard succumbed to no further injuries and was cleared to race on Sunday. But, his qualifying result would make it hard to compete, starting from 20th on the grid.

Race:

With 26 laps at the Dutch circuit and clear conditions, it looked like it would be a Yamaha victory for sure. But which Yamaha rider was going to step onto the top step of the podium?

Vinales took an interesting approach, being the only rider who chose to have a soft front tyre. All the other riders lined up on the grid with either medium or hard. As the lights went out Vinales was swamped. He had gone from pole to 5th, whilst his teammate went to first from 2nd.

Vinales knew he needed to make a good start to fight for the win. He soon passed Alex Rins (Suzuki) for 4th place, putting him behind Nakagami and Bagnaia. A tussle soon broke out between Fabio and Pecco for 1st . Bagnaia eventually took the lead.

The Ducati lead the race, all the while with Quartararo watching, waiting for the right time to pounce – taking fastest lap in the process.

The fastest lap and the new lap record soon were beaten by Johann Zarco (Ducati), in 5th place.

Bagnaia struggled to get any gap from Quartararo and on lap 6, turn 11 – Quartararo took the lead. Straight away he broke away from the pack with 20 laps to go. The space was soon 0.575 seconds. He then gained fastest lap and with the clean air in front of him furthered his lead to 0.900 seconds.

Quartararo out in the lead. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was unfortunately an early race finish for Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who crashed out turn 7, lap 8.

Beating his own fastest lap, Quartararo kept pushing himself and pumped out quicker and quicker laps. Trying to gain an advantage over Bagnaia, who was now in a race of his own too with a gap of 1.336 seconds to Quartararo and 0.506 seconds to Nakagami behind him.

Starting from 20th on the grid Marc Marquez rode a very impressive race and by lap 10 he had secured 10th place. Due to it’s many right-hand corners, Assen was never going to be a track that would favour the Honda or Marc’s injured arm.

Assen race track. Courtesy of: Asphaltandrubber.com

Nakagami’s Honda soon caught up to Bagnaia’s Ducati, they tussled for 2nd place and during this Bagnaia received a track limit warning. The gap increased between them and Quartararo to 2.941 seconds. They continued to fight for the podium place, letting Fabio increase his lead further to 3.272 seconds, just over the half-way point in the race.

On lap 14 Bagnaia’s warning turned into a long-lap penalty for continuing to exceed track limits. He decided to take this on the next lap, rejoining the race in 7th place.

Meanwhile, Nakagami had a terrible time and suddenly ended up in 6th place, getting passed by 3 riders. His luck went from bad to worse and soon he was in 9th place, behind Marquez and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia). To further add to his torment he also received a track limit warning.

Jack Miller’s weekend wasn’t going well for him either and he crashed, turn 15. He managed to rejoin the race, but later his Ducati had mechanical issues and was told to retire.

Miller having to retire due to mechanical faults. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The gap between the top two Yamaha’s had reached over 4 seconds and there was no chance that Vinales could catch Quartararo. There was however battles behind them, between Joan Mir (Suzuki) and Zarco for 3rd place and M.Marquez and A.Espargaro for 7th.

Lap 20 saw Iker Lecuona (KTM) crash in the final chicane, leaving his bike floundering on the track. The marshals were quick to respond though.

The few fans present at the track were seeing a masterclass race by the young championship leader. Even though the gap between him and Vinales had reduced, with 7 laps to go Fabio was on for his fourth race win of the season. The reigning world champion was in 3rd place having started from 10th on the grid.

Mir, Zarco and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) had created their own group and fought for that last podium spot with Bagnaia, Marquez and Espargaro behind them. Marquez looked set to pass Bagnaia but it was a surprise pass by Aleix that took him to 7th in-front of Marc.

The final lap: Quartararo comfortably secured 25 more precious championship points, ahead of a dejected Vinales and an elated Mir (who took his third podium this year).

Mir takes the third place trophy. Courtesy of: Team Suzuki Ecstar.

Top Ten Race Results:

First

F. Quartararo

Second

M. Vinales

Third

J. Mir

Fourth

J. Zarco

Fifth

M. Oliveira

Sixth

F. Bagnaia

Seventh

M. Marquez

Eigth

A. Espargaro

Ninth

T. Nakagami

Tenth

P. Espargaro

Top Four Championship Positions:

First

Quartararo

156 points

Second

Zarco

122 points

Third

Bagnaia

109 points

Fourth

Mir

101 points

Going into a 5 week summer break, the Yamaha’s seem unbeatable and yet there is speculation within the Vinales team that he may choose to leave them. Can this break re-kindle their relationship? Or will there be a breaking news story in the meantime? Join Moto GP for more action on Sunday 8th August.

 

 

(Featured image, courtesy of: Moto GP)

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