MotoGP: Vinales Sets New Lap Record, Claims Pole Position At Assen (Updated)

MotoGP: Vinales Sets New Lap Record, Claims Pole Position At Assen (Updated)

© 2021, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP Combined Qual

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Viñales, Quartararo and Bagnaia prepare for battle from the front row

It’s a Yamaha 1-2 with Ducati in third as Marquez suffers worst MotoGP™ qualifying to date in P20

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) stellar weekend at the Motul TT Assen only continued on Saturday, the 2019 winner at the track once again flexing his speed to top the timesheets and this time for pole position – with a new all-time lap record to boot. Just 0.071 kept Top Gun ahead of teammate Fabio Quartararo in a close-fought Yamaha 1-2- at the Cathedral, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) completing the front row via Q1.

Q1

Q1 had some big names including the aforementioned Bagnaia, Sachsenring winner and eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and second in the standings Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing). It was a chaotic session at times but Bagnaia kept it pinned to move through, pipped late on by Zarco after the Frenchman had some issues early on. The two Borgo Panigale machines proved the graduating duo though, denying Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) by a tenth.

Marc Marquez crashed out of the session, rider ok, with only half a minute left on the clock as he lost the chance to move to Q2. Consequently, the number 93 suffered his worst qualifying ever in the premier class as he gets ready to start from 20th, and has another surprisingly tough day at the the office alongside him: Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).

Q2

Free Practice 1, 2, and 3 pacesetter Viñales set the initial time to beat, a 1:32.413, but it was beaten on Quartararo’s first fast lap by 0.077. However, El Diablo’s next flying lap was nothing short of stunning: through Sector 3, Quartararo was over three tenths faster than his own time and was on course to set the first-ever sub-1:32 lap time at the Cathedral of Speed. Sure enough, hecrossed the line to lay down Assen’s fastest-ever two-wheel lap – a 1:31.922.

At the end of the first runs, the number 20 was a stunning 0.491 clear of Viñales in second place, with three tenths then separating third-place Zarco from ninth-fastest Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). It would take an almighty effort to beat Quartararo’s time, but that’s exactly what Viñales was about to pull out the hat. His first lap went astray after a moment at Turn 9, but his sixth lap of the session saw Viñales set a blockbuster 1:31.814 to beat his teammate by 0.071, a scorcher from Top Gun.

Bagnaia then shot up to P3 before Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) hit back, but Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) decided it was his turn to sit on the provisional front row and the Japanese rider took over in third.

As the end of the session approached, all eyes turned to Quartararo. Up by nearly two tenths in Sector 1, the Frenchman was 0.135 under at the end of Sector 2. A small mistake at Turn 10 cost the number 20 time, however, and crossing the line, he couldn’t improve… leaving Viñales unthreatened at the top as the number 12 took pole for the first time in 2021. Bagnaia then shot into third, demoting Nakagami right at the flag.

Viñales, Quartararo and Bagnaia lock out the top, with Nakagami leading Row 2 in P4 after his best qualifying of the season. He’s joined on the second row by Zarco and Oliveira. Rins suffered a late crash at Turn 8 but is unhurt and will start from P8 as the leading Suzuki, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on the third row in 8th and 9th respectively. Just over three tenths covers Bagnaia to Aleix Espargaro.

Reigning World Champion Joan Mir’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) qualifying struggles continue as the Spaniard starts P10, but the number 36 has very good race pace. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) is the second fastest Honda rider in P11, and the Spaniard sits just 0.089 ahead of 12th place Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) after the Doctor made it through to Q2.

That’s a wrap on Saturday, with Assen primed to deliver another classic showdown on Sunday. Who’ll come out on top in the 90th TT at the Cathedral? Find out at 14:00 (GMT +2) as the lights go out for the Motul TT Assen.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing Tech3:

Best Qualifying this year for Lecuona – Petrucci unlucky on Saturday in Assen

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Iker Lecuona delivered a strong second day at the Dutch GP. The Spaniard improved with each session today and went 1.786 seconds quicker in Qualifying than he did in Free Practice yesterday, developing a strong feeling aboard his KTM RC16 at the TT Circuit Assen. He eventually missed out on a possible Q2 spot by just 0.067 seconds and will start the final race ahead of the summer break from the fifth row of the grid.

At the same time, Danilo Petrucci lowered his Friday’s best by more than one second as well in FP3 this morning and was pumped for Qualifying. Unfortunately, he got his fastest lap canceled as he exceeded the track limits on the last corner and finally just missed out on the opportunity to do another quick lap by one second at the flag. The Italian will have to attack from row six tomorrow at 14:00 local time at the Cathedral of Speed.

Iker Lecuona

Position: 13th

Time: 1:32.724

Laps: 9

“I felt quite strong, especially on my fastest lap. On the first run I did a mistake in sector one and without this I think I could have done a 1:32 high again. On this lap, Marc and Johann played a lot, so I lost some time in corner 12, 13 and 14 and I knew it was my lap. The bike was working very well, we have a lot of potential. I’m quite happy, thanks to the team as well, because we all have been working very well this weekend. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Danilo Petrucci

Position: 18th

Time: 1:33.378

Laps: 8

“Unfortunately, I touched the green out of the last corner on what was a really strong lap. The lap later, I took the chequered flag for a second. Unluckily this means we have another P18 on the grid, which is not a great place to start. Anyway, we know that we have a good pace and will try to recover as many positions as possible tomorrow.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Sky Racing Team VR46:

SIXTH ROW FOR LUCA MARINI IN QP AT THE DUTCH GP

The rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia will start from the 17th box on the starting grid

Assen (Netherlands), June 26th 2021 – Luca Marini closes the qualifying for the Dutch GP in 17th place and will start for tomorrow’s race from the sixth row of the starting grid.

Forced into the Q1 at the end of the free practices (1.33.456), the rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia has signed a good 1.33.321, a time that means the overall P7 in qualifying just seven tenths from entering into the Q2.

Luca Marini

Overall a good qualifying, we are doing well, we always try to make the most of our potential. We will continue to work in this direction, we are missing something in the fast parts, all the Ducati are struggling and we hope that some of us will find a change in order to have more stability. We are growing, I’m happy, the level is really very high, the bikes are constantly evolving, but step by step we are there. I am very happy with the relationship with the Team and I feel good.

Ruben Xaus

A difficult qualifying and a very short ranking. On this track, experience is essential together with the right set up. The asphalt is very smooth, it is hard to stop the bike well and it is therefore necessary to ride in a slightly different way. Overall Luca set some interesting lap times and is getting closer and closer. Tire management will be crucial for the race, we expect a drop after 4/5 laps. If we manage this thing well we can stay into the points.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Esponsorama Racing:

BASTIANINI AND MARINI 19TH AND 17TH FOR DUTCH GRAND PRIX RACE

Assen (Netherlands), 26th June 2021

Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini will start the Motul TT Assen in 19th and 17th position respectively after having to dispute the Q1.

Both riders had a difficult session and unfortunately couldn’t finish in the top two positions that would have allowed them to access to Q2. Bastianini closed his best lap with a time of 1:33.404 and Luca Marini with a time of 1:33.321.

The points of the Motul TT Assen will be given in the race that will take place tomorrow at 14:00 at the mythical Assen track.

 #23 ENEA BASTIANINI

“It has been a difficult day. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we expected, so we will have to work for tomorrow because there is something wrong and we have to understand why. Tomorrow I will start 19th and I will do my best to get a good result.”

#10 LUCA MARINI

“Overall it has been a good qualifying and we are doing well, we always try to make the most of our potential. We are still working in this direction, we are missing something in the fast parts, all the Ducatis are struggling, and we hope that some of them will find a modification to have more stability. We are growing, I am happy, the level is extremely high, the bikes are constantly evolving, but step by step we are there. I am very happy with the relationship with the team and I feel good.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Dutch GP – Johann Zarco will start from the second row of the grid tomorrow. Jorge Martin will start from the fourteenth place.

In FP3, Johann and Jorge missed out on direct access to the Q2 session by only 3 and 7 hundredths of a second respectively. They were forced to pass via Q1. In the Q1 session after a difficult start, Johann Zarco was able to mark the leading time and earned himself a place in Q2 in which he then went on to come fifth in. He did this with a time of 1:32.394. The Spanish rider started off his Q1 session in the best way and after an excellent first run, he was in the second position. He ended in fourth place with a time of 1:32.850, which in turn gained him a fifth row start on the grid tomorrow.

Jorge Martín

It’s been a good day, we worked substantially in FP3 and FP4 on the race-pace and I am satisfied. My physical condition still is not 100% and I lack some experience but I am happy with how we are working and I am seeing improvements day by day.

Johann Zarco

I am happy enough. This morning I only just missed out on Q2 and I was a little disappointed. In the afternoon I was able to make the most of the tires, in Q1 as well as in Q2, and I will be starting from the second row which is good.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Repsol Honda Team determined to fight back from disappointing Saturday

After two days full of promise, Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez were left disappointed after being unable to deliver in Qualifying, Marquez walking away from his second fall of the event.

Saturday in Assen continued Pol Espargaro’s fine form from Friday, keeping his RC213V consistently inside the top ten as he showed impressive pace throughout the morning session. Improving to a 1’33.170 before the late time attack began and Espargaro found another half a second to end FP3 in third with a 1’32.641. Putting together a competitive Free Practice 4, Espargaro headed into Q2 ready to challenge and started the session well with a competitive first run. The #44 would be unable to make a dramatic step forward in lap time as he was left to rue a wrong choice of front tyres, his 1’32.830 earning him 11th on the grid.

Although sore and bruised from his Free Practice 2 high side, Marc Marquez was back on track for Free Practice 3 and immediately picked up where he left off. Within just a few laps, Marquez had improved on his best Friday time as he aimed for a Q2 spot. Less than 0.2s was all that stood between Marquez and a top ten finish in the session, the eight-time World Champion heading to Q1 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, a crash in the final minutes of Q1 ended Marquez’s chances of advancing to Q2, forced to start the Dutch TT from 20th on the grid.

Sunday’s race will take place over 26 laps around the TT Circuit Assen, lights for the race going out at 14:00 Local Time. After uncertain forecasts, it now looks as though it will be dry for the 2021 Dutch TT. Both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro will be out to make a point in the race before heading into the mid-season summer break.

Pol Espargaro

11TH  1’32.830

“Today we did not deliver in Qualifying, we should have been on the front two rows at least. I made a mistake with the front tyre, I used the soft front twice and this was not the right things to do. This is what happens when we have such a short pre-season and we aren’t able to make these mistakes during a test, we have to make them during a race weekend and put ourselves in this difficult situation. We have been flying all weekend, but now starting so far back it will be difficult tomorrow. Anyway, let’s see what happens on Sunday.”

Marc Marquez

20TH  1’33.477

My body was feeling the crash of yesterday and it just made everything more difficult in the end. The morning started well, I felt good in FP3 and FP4 and then in Qualifying the feeling with the first tyre wasn’t so good, but I felt better with the second. I couldn’t finish the lap, this can happen in Qualifying when you are pushing, I lost the front and I fell. I wasn’t really riding how I wanted today. Tomorrow will be difficult; 20th is not our place at all. Starting this far back will be tricky but we will do what we can and learn as much as possible. I also have to thank Honda for their fast work, after yesterday they brought a solution to our Traction Control concerns today and it has helped – this is Honda.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

GOOD QUALIFIERS FOR ALEIX ESPARGARÓ WHO TAKES A SPOT ON THE THIRD ROW IN THE ASSEN GP

THE APRILIA RS-GP CONFIRMS ITS SPEED ON DIFFERENT TRACKS AND IN DIFFERENT CONDITIONS

LORENZO SAVADORI ALSO IMPROVES – AMONG THE BEST IN Q1 AND ON THE FIFTH ROW OF THE STARTING GRID TOMORROW

A protagonist from the morning on Saturday, Aleix Espargaró went through to Q2 yet again, taking fourth in the combined free practice standings thanks to a run of 1’32.747 at the end of FP3. Aleix further improved on his time in qualifying (1’32.666), but he would have been able to do better if he had felt more confident on the second soft tyre, put on for the final and decisive attack. He finished ninth, taking a good spot on the third row at the end of two days that reiterated his outstanding fitness and the natural ease with which he manages to place his RS-GP among the best.

We are approaching the middle of the championship season and the Aprilia prototype has confirmed that it is at ease on different tracks and in different conditions.

This is a comforting situation that has also benefitted Lorenzo Savadori who, finally on a familiar circuit, stayed consistently in the top ten and, with his fifth-place time in Q1 (at 1’33.258), earned a spot on the fifth row for the Dutch race. This is his best starting position since his début in MotoGP, despite a harmless crash during the FP4 session.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“I wasn’t particularly brilliant in qualifying. I am unable to make the difference with the soft rear, but we are very competitive in terms of pace. I was fast and consistent in both FP3 and FP4. I don’t see a lot of riders wit a better pace, although things could shift in the race tomorrow. Starting from the ninth spot is never simple, but I expect a rather compact group, where it will be possible to battle for an important result. A good start will be fundamental in order to make up some positions straight away, whereas I’ll have to save my energy a bit over race distance. These bikes are rather physical to ride with a lot of load, especially on a track with this type of layout.”

LORENZO SAVADORI

“Qualifying didn’t go too badly, although we are not as incisive as I’d like to be on the first sector. On the rest of the track, on the other hand, I’m able to be pretty competitive, but with such narrow gaps, we need to get close to perfection. The crash in FP4 was similar in dynamics to the one on the Sachsenring. In fact, we were trying the same change to the bike’s geometry. For the race, we’ll obviously take a step back in this regard, also trying to recover a bit on T1 because we have the potential to finish in the points.”

 

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Lenovo Team:

Front-row start for Pecco Bagnaia, third in qualifying for the Dutch GP. Jack Miller will start from the third row in Assen, from the eighth position.

Francesco Bagnaia will start from the front row of the grid in tomorrow’s Dutch GP at the historic TT Circuit in Assen. The Ducati Lenovo Team rider, fourteenth after yesterday’s two sessions, could not gain access directly to Q2 this morning as he closed FP3 in twelfth place. However, during Q1, Bagnaia immediately set a good lap time to gain access to Q2, thanks to the second-fastest time. In the final minutes of the second qualifying session, the Italian rider put in another excellent lap in 1:32.116, which allowed him to get the start from the front row in tomorrow’s race for the third time this season.

Jack Miller will start from the third row tomorrow at the TT Circuit Assen. After having qualified directly for Q2, thanks to his tenth fastest time in FP3, the Australian was then unable to improve on his lap time in the final minutes of the session, as he was forced to slow down on his last flying lap with the soft tyres due to the yellow flags. As a result, Miller closed qualifying in eighth place.

Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 3rd (1:32.116)

“I’m thrilled because today we were able to make big steps forward compared to yesterday. Since this morning’s FP3, we have consistently improved our pace, and we have achieved our goal of starting from the front row tomorrow. Quartararo and Viñales are still on another level right now, with incredible race pace, but we’re also working to take another step forward for the race, and I’m sure we’ll be able to do it”.

Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo team) – 8th (1:32.609)

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of my last lap with the soft tyre because of the yellow flags, and that will force me to start from the third row tomorrow. This is definitely not a track where I feel particularly comfortable, but I will try to do my best in the race as always. The last sector doesn’t really suit my riding style, but we have a better idea of how to deal with it in the race after the qualifying. Tomorrow it will be important to get a good start to disrupt the pace of the frontrunners in the early stages and thus have a chance to attack in the final laps”.

The Ducati Lenovo Team will be back on track tomorrow at 9:40 am for the warm-up, while the Dutch GP race will get underway at 2 pm local time on a 26-lap distance.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang:

Fourth row for Rossi after tight qualifying at Assen

Valentino Rossi to start DutchGP from 12th on the grid, Garrett Gerloff 22nd

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow’s DutchGP at Assen from 12th on the grid, while team-mate Garrett Gerloff ended his first ever MotoGP qualifying in 22nd.

Consistently improving upon his time from yesterday throughout FP3, Rossi was able to put in a series of strong time attacks and briefly held fifth. The Italian secured a direct place in Q2, setting a 1min 32.894secs lap that placed him ninth. Valentino also demonstrated good race pace in FP4, ahead of a qualifying session that saw the majority of riders separated by the smallest of margins. Rossi got in an early banker lap that placed him tenth, before his second run of 1min 32.919secs saw him end Q2 in 12th – which translates to a fourth row start for tomorrow’s race.

Gerloff also continued to make improvements throughout FP3 and bettered his lap time from yesterday by 1.5secs – 1min 34.254secs. The Texan unfortunately experienced technical issues on his final run and so he ended FP3 22nd, which saw him head into Q1. Garrett’s first ever MotoGP qualifying session saw him set his fastest lap of the weekend so far – 1min 33.739secs. He looked set to improve further on his final flying lap, but lost some time in the final sector. He will start his debut MotoGP race from 22nd on the grid.

Warm up for Rossi and Gerloff will commence tomorrow at 9.40am local time (3.40pm MYT), before the 26-lap MotoGP race gets underway at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).

Valentino Rossi

12th (1’32.919)

Today was quite positive for us because I have had a good pace from the beginning of this morning and I have felt good with the bike. We have continued to work on the settings, because we don’t feel that they are 100%, but in the end I did a very good lap in FP3 and went straight to Q2. FP4 was also a positive session, as I did some good lap times at the end of it with the hard rear and had good pace. I was hoping to improve my time slightly in Q2 by two or three tenths but, alone on track, I was unable to do so. Now we have to wait to see what the conditions are tomorrow to understand which tyre to use, but I hope it is dry. We will need to get a good start, be strong in the opening laps and stay with the group, hopefully this way we can have a good race.

Garrett Gerloff

22nd (1’33.739)

I’m a little frustrated because I think I could have put my sectors together better across one lap and I didn’t do that, but it’s not too bad. Every time I go out I’m trying to learn something new and get used to the bike more. The team has been amazing, we’ve been making really good progress every time I’m out on track and the bike is feeling even more comfortable than it did. In the beginning it was very different from what I was expecting but we’re working in a good way. It would have been nice to be higher on the grid, but I’m doing the best that I can. My goal was to keep improving and so far I’ve done that. Tomorrow I’m hoping I can ride with someone and see their lines, learn some things and maybe make a couple of passes – that would be really good.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP DOMINATE ASSEN QUALIFYING

Assen (The Netherlands), 26th June 2021

GRAND PRIX OF THE NETHERLANDS

QUALIFYING

Maverick Viñales secured pole position at the TT Circuit Assen, setting a new All Time Lap Record. Fabio Quartararo was the only other rider able to challenge his teammate. He set the second fastest time, just 0.071s off pole, to make it a Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 1-2.

1st MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’31.814 / 8 LAPS

2nd FABIO QUARTARARO 1’31.885 / 7 LAPS

The Dutch GP qualifying session at the TT Circuit Assen was a showdown between the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders. The fight for pole was between Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo, with the former winning the shoot-out by just 0.071s.

Viñales had continued the positive momentum from Day 1 in Assen on qualifying day in the FP3 and FP4 sessions, and it put an extra spring in his step for Q2. He left the Factory Yamaha garage as soon as possible. His benchmark lap of 1‘32.413s put him in provisional first place until his teammate crossed the finish line after his first hot lap.

The Spaniard returned to the pit immediately for a fresh tyre. With seven and a half minutes remaining, he dashed out for his second run. He had a 0.491s gap to bridge to take over the top spot. Unable to improve on his next flyer due to a big moment in Turn 9, he put his head down once more. He then set a 1‘31.814, a new All Time Lap Record. He couldn’t make further strides on his next attempt, but his incredible fastest time earned him his first pole of the season.

Quartararo had the opposite strategy at the start of the qualifying session. He allowed most of the riders to exit pit lane before stepping aboard his M1 to start the Q2 shoot-out in peace, without tailing rivals. He took over from Viñales at the top of the timesheets with a 1‘32.336s first attempt, but he had more to give. He set a 1‘31.922s, the first ever sub-1‘32s lap at the Circuit TT Assen. It put him 0.491s ahead of his teammate in second place.

With seven and a half minutes remaining, he entered pit lane for a quick stop and a fresh rear tyre. He improved his time to a 1‘31.885s, reducing the gap to 0.071s. El Diablo loves qualifying and doesn‘t settle for second place. However, a small mistake in Turn 10 cost him the pole on his last hot lap. He will start the race from second on the grid, making it a Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 1-2.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Today was a textbook performance from our team. We took part in three sessions and secured 1-2 results in all three of them. This is positive, because it means we have both one-lap speed and a competitive pace for tomorrow‘s race. During Q2, Maverick and Fabio were in a league of their own, no other rider was able to drop under the 1‘32s-mark today, so we were very satisfied with both of them. So far, the Assen weekend has been a complete turnaround from the Sachsenring, but we still have the race to come. We will work tonight to finalise the set-up for tomorrow. We have a pretty good idea of which tyre option we prefer for tomorrow. We just hope that it will stay dry, because if that is the case, we expect the race to be a thriller.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

We worked hard since FP1 and there was great grip on the bike, so I could be competitive and fast. Overall, this weekend has been good. I‘m very happy, honestly. The bike is working fantastic. I‘m really happy with all the work we did during the weekend. In the first three practices I was first, and I think that tomorrow we will have a good opportunity to fight for the podium.

FABIO QUARTARARO

I’m not complaining about being in second place. I’m feeling happy. I know that we have the pace to fight for the victory tomorrow, so that is the most important. I got a front row, even though I didn’t have a great feeling with the soft rear tyre all weekend, and I feel like this was a great lap time. For me, I did the best I could on that tyre, and we achieved a great result, but our work in FP4 was more important, because we achieved a really great race pace. I feel good and I feel confident, so I can’t wait for tomorrow, honestly. I’m full of adrenaline, I think we can do super well.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing:

MOTOGP™ SECOND ROW AGAIN FOR OLIVEIRA AFTER QUALIFICATION IN THE NETHERLANDS

MotoGP 2021 – Round 09 of 18, TT Circuit Assen (NED)

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will launch from the second row of the start grid for round nine of 2021 MotoGP and an overdue and welcome return to the rapid kinks and curves of the TT Circuit Assen. Miguel Oliveira was 6th fastest after Q2 in dry and cloudy conditions in the Netherlands on Saturday afternoon. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez dashed to Pole Position in Moto2.

– Second top six qualification position in succession for Oliveira

– 13th and highest grid slot so far for Iker Lecuona

– Binder misses out on possible Q2 slot after waved yellow flags in Q1

– Fourth Moto2™ Pole Position in five races for Raul Fernandez

– Moto3™ series leader Pedro Acosta declared unfit for the remainder of Saturday’s sessions after a crash and collision in FP3

The Motul TT Assen Grand Prix pulled MotoGP to a fourth event from the last five weeks and back onto the hallowed Dutch tarmac (resurfaced last year) that missed the world championship schedule in 2019, and for the first time since the inception of the FIM series in 1949. Despite a rainy Free Practice 2 on Friday afternoon, Assen remained dry throughout Saturday and Miguel Oliveira ensured direct Q2 qualification once again. The Portuguese was almost joined by teammate Brad Binder and Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci who was able to set lap-times to remain stationed in the middle of the pack.

Binder, along with fellow ‘rookie’ to the TT Circuit Assen on a MotoGP machine, Iker Lecuona, fought throughout the short Q1 session but the South African was denied his fastest lap when Marc Marquez’s crash drew out the yellow flags and forced him to slow. Binder will enter the start grid in 21st position on Sunday with Petrucci in 18th. Lecuona pushed hard in Q1 and was only seven hundredths of a second from the final elimination berth for Q2. It was the Spaniard’s most competitive qualification of the season to-date.

Oliveira worked on his race set-up during FP4 and then bided his time to post his flying attempt during Q2. He broke the timing beam just 0.5 of a second from the eventual Pole Position. His 6th place was achieved with his penultimate lap in the session.

Race day begins with Moto3 at 11.00. Moto2 follows at 12.20 and then MotoGP at 14.00 CET.

Miguel Oliveira: “A tough qualifying. We have done a lot of work with the bike and tried a lot of ideas to help me go faster. We found a good compromise for agility and the grip but it’s not easy. We knew this would be a hard track for us but so far it has been quite positive. A second-row position is quite nice, and we have a long race ahead of us tomorrow. We’re looking forward to doing a good job.”

Iker Lecuona: “I felt quite strong, especially on my fastest lap. On the first run I made a mistake in sector one and without this I think I could have done a high 1:32 again. The bike was working very well, we have a lot of potential. I’m quite happy, thanks to the team as well, because we all have been working very well this weekend. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Danilo Petrucci: “Unfortunately, I touched the green out of the last corner on what was a really strong lap. A lap later, I missed the chequered flag and another try by just a second. Unluckily this means we have another P18 on the grid, which is not a great place to start. Anyway, we know that we have a good pace and will try to recover as many positions as possible tomorrow.”

Brad Binder: “A really difficult FP4 and qualifying, even if we did do a lot of laps and worked hard to find our way. I had an issue with the softer tire and some stability after a few laps but when we put in the harder tire the feeling was quite OK. In qualifying I couldn’t even complete one good lap and that’s why we’re 21st. It will have to be a hell of a fightback tomorrow.”

KTM GP Academy

The top KTM RC4 runner in Moto3 was CIP Green Power’s Kaito Toba who took 5th position in Q2 and will start the Grand Prix race from the middle of the second row. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia took 1st place in Q1 and then secured 10th in the final qualification run. The Spaniard was five spots ahead of Red Bull KTM Tech’3 Deniz Öncü. Championship leader Pedro Acosta was 18th but the teenager was declared unfit for the rest of the day after a crash and collision in the final chicane during FP3.

Red Bull KTM Ajo duo Raul Fernandez was a Q2 qualification master again in Moto2. The rookie Spaniard was just two tenths of a second away from teammate and championship pacesetter Remy Gardner giving the Ajo crew year another double front row appearance; the fourth from nine rounds.

Raul Fernandez: “I’m really happy to get another Pole Position. The last race was difficult but I’m back at the front this weekend. We were on top a lot throughout Free Practice and this is important for the confidence. I hope I can fight with Remy tomorrow, we’ll see because he is always very strong in the races. My goal is to go into the summer break with another podium.”

Northern Talent Cup

The 2021 Northern Talent Cup was back in action after circulating the Sachsenring in Germany last weekend. The first race at Assen took place after a very brief shower that created some damp and tricky sections of the track. At the flag it was Lorenz Luciano, 2nd in the current championship standings, who triumphed by fractions of a second.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

TOP HONDA QUALIFIER AT THE CATHEDRAL OF SPEED

26 June 2021 | Dutch GP Qualifying

Takaaki Nakagami will start from the front of the second row after an impressive performance in qualifying for the Dutch GP. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider was on the pace in every session on Saturday and only just missed out on a front row spot in a dramatic Q2 at Assen.

Sitting 11th overnight, Taka ensured direct progress to the qualifying shootout as he claimed seventh in FP3 and backed it up with strong race pace in FP4 to take sixth. In third entering the final seconds of Q2, the Japanese star was denied a front row berth by Pecco Bagnaia, but still finished a superb day as the leading Honda.

Takaaki Nakagami – 4th

(1’32.314)

“It’s a great result for us and personally I want to say thanks to my team, because it was difficult for a long time and now we’re back in Parc Ferme and it’s a nice feeling. The most important thing this weekend is that we have a good feeling on the bike and the confidence is there. P4 is a great result and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race. Hopefully I’ll bring home a great result.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ ON THE SIXTH ROW AT ASSEN

26 June 2021 | Dutch GP Qualifying

LCR Honda CASTROL rider Álex Márquez is on the sixth row of the grid for Sunday’s Dutch GP. The Spaniard showed more flashes of potential ahead of Sunday’s race at Assen and will now look to make a strong start when the action gets underway tomorrow.

Alex pushed hard in FP3 but had to settle for 17th position, although he was less than four tenths outside the top 10. He was then 13th in an encouraging FP4, but could not progress from an ultra-competitive Q2 session and ended in 16th overall on the timesheets.

Álex Márquez – 16th

(1’33.288)

“Second day here and for qualifying we made some good improvements on yesterday. In race pace we’re still missing a bit and it was not the best qualifying, although I gave it my everything. Again, I made a few mistakes and need to improve on the one lap, but we are not bad and are trying step by step to be there. If we can improve the grip tomorrow we can have a good race, I’ll give 100 percent and we’ll have to see what the rain forecast is. In general, I’m quite happy with the bike, we need to improve the rear grip, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow and being aggressive from the beginning.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

SUZUKI SECURES Q2 PASSAGE AND TOP 10 GRID SPOTS IN HOLLAND

Team Suzuki Press Office – June 26.

Grid positions for DutchGP:

Alex Rins: 7th – 1’32.597 (+ 0.783)

Joan Mir: 10th – 1’32.748 (+ 0.934)

The rain stayed away from the TT Circuit of Assen on Saturday morning, meaning Team Suzuki Ecstar’s riders, Joan Mir and Alex Rins, would need to fight to defend their positions in the Top 10. They managed this very well, putting together strings of quick laps and finishing FP3 in fifth and sixth respectively, giving them passage to Q2.

In FP4 the duo, happy with their set-ups, were able to try the various tyre options available and run short race simulations. They once again demonstrated competitive pace, with Rins holding the Top 3 for the majority of the session. In the end, Mir was fifth and Rins seventh.

The Q2 session saw a determined Rins and Mir head out on track as soon as pit lane opened. Rins opted for the soft-soft combination, and Mir the medium-soft and they set about bringing their lap times down. Using the usual ‘2 exits’ strategy, they improved significantly in their final runs, but failed to capture the optimum fast lap feel. A late crash without consequence at Turn 8 for Rins while on a personal best lap cost him a few grid spots and in the end the GSX-RR mounted pair took seventh and 10th for tomorrow’s 26 lap GP.

Alex Rins:

“Luckily I’m fine after the crash, it was a small off and my arm didn’t take any more damage. It was a shame because I was aiming for the second row and I was very close to it when I went down, but the sessions have been good today, especially FP3 & FP4, and I’ve enjoyed the feeling with the bike. I’ve tried the different tyre options and worked quite a lot towards tomorrow, but so far we’re still not sure what we’ll use for the race. The Yamahas are very strong, but I think I’m able to fight in the lead group if all goes well.”

Joan Mir:

“Overall the day has been positive, but I’m a bit disappointed about the qualifying as usual, because that’s the lowest position I’ve been in all weekend and my time in Q2 was better than my time in FP3 where I was Top 5. But it’s like this, and now we need to focus on improving on our qualifying performance because the bike has good potential and this track could be good for us because our race pace is decent. I will need to fight hard tomorrow from this grid position to get myself in a good place and finish as high as possible. I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again, but it’s always tougher and more unpredictable when you have to come through the pack, so it will be difficult.”

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“It’s mixed feelings for us today. This morning both riders did a great job, both of them got into the Top 10 and Q2. Likewise, in FP4 our race pace was very good. But we expected more in qualifying, we were hoping for the second row at least, but unfortunately they will start 7th and 10th which is disappointing for all of us. However, our race pace is quite good and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen tomorrow.”

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