MotoGP: World Championship Resumes Next Weekend At Assen

MotoGP: World Championship Resumes Next Weekend At Assen

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna:

Back with a bang: buckle up as MotoGP™ returns at Assen

75 years of history, 4.54km of awesome: the world’s most exciting sport arrives at the Cathedral

Monday, 24 June 2024

 

Image courtesy Dorna.

 

Have there ever been so many talking points created off track in such a short space of time? Despite three weekends off, MotoGP™ has been making headlines since the Mugello Test, when 6pm local time saw the first bombshell rider announcement of the season drop: Jorge Martin moves from Prima Pramac Racing to Aprilia Racing from 2025. That made it fairly clear who was going to be announced alongside reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia at Ducati Lenovo Team, and sure enough it was confirmed not too long thereafter: Marc Marquez will move from Gresini Racing MotoGP™ to the factory team. We’ll leave the debate about whether that was the concrete plan before 6pm on Monday at Mugello to the rumour mill.

There was then a détente in the rush to win announcement roulette before KTM came out with their big reveal for 2025. The rumour of Enea Bastianini’s move from alongside Bagnaia to Austrian machinery was true. But the rumour of who would be his teammate had not even begun as KTM managed to keep their full line-up under wraps, and it was another bombshell: Maverick Viñales will join a newly orange Red Bull KTM Tech3 squad alongside the ‘Beast’.

Now, we know who will replace him at Aprilia: Marco Bezzecchi, moving from Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team. The dominoes are falling into their own fascinating jigsaw, but that’s all 2025. This season, there remains a Championship to win. 13 Grands Prix, 13 Tissot Sprints and a maximum of 481 points still await the world’s most exciting sport in 2024 and we get back on track with a back-to-back line-up of two classics, starting with the TT Circuit Assen.

As MotoGP™ celebrates our 75th anniversary, Assen celebrates its 75th Grand Prix as it’s been on the calendar every year since 1949 barring one gap in 2020. But heritage isn’t a throwback at the Cathedral, it lives alongside what’s often one of the most spectacular race weekends of the season, and there’s even more to race for as everyone rolls out.

Bagnaia, winner of the last two and superfan of the venue, wants to rule both for the points and to make one as his 2025 teammate is confirmed. Martin, with only one Moto3™ win at the venue so far, wants to show even more. That the track doesn’t matter, that his speed and consistency are there. Maybe that his decisions for the future are backed by both. Marc Marquez, having somewhat made a point already, is still missing that Grand Prix win in 2024 too. Can he take that at Assen, one of Bagnaia’s most coveted top steps? With the three riders covered by 35 points, these two weekends are tantalising as the form book for Assen doesn’t much resemble that for Germany.

Then there’s Bastianini, only 57 off the top, and that could be less barring his adventures garnering attention from the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards at Le Mans and Barcelona, including his one-man insurrection there that dropped him outside the points. Mugello’s last lap, last corner move on Martin, however, shows what he’s got when the cards fall right. Viñales, meanwhile, is a master of Assen. His CV at the venue is one of the best on the grid and his form in 2024 strong. Can he get back into the podium fight and revive some COTA BatMav?

Teammate Aleix Espargaro has form at Assen too, including a podium last year as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) got done for track limits and the Aprilia was promoted. Espargaro has also pulled off that stunning two-for-one on Binder and now-teammate Jack Miller at the final chicane within recent memory. Binder, track limits aside, had podium pace too, and Miller – now on the market for 2025 – has fair form at Assen including his historic first MotoGP™ win in the rain in 2016.

Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3), now confirmed in orange next season, will want to get back in the podium battle, and his teammate Augusto Fernandez will hope Assen – where he won his first Grand Prix, in Moto2™, and which is one of his favourite tracks – helps his luck to turn. After a much tougher run of late, Bezzecchi will be looking for a turnaround too. Last year here he won the Sprint to deny Bagnaia the chance at the double, and even if the eventual Champion took the spoils on Sunday, Bezzecchi wasn’t too far behind for an impressive podium.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team), meanwhile, is quietly impressing as he keeps the upper hand on a fair few fellow GP23 riders, and he’ll want to continue doing that. Bezzecchi and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) are looking to put a stop to it. Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) is on his own mission, with the speed now there more often than not, but more points-paying finishes on the menu.

At Trackhouse Racing, the rumour mills remain full steam ahead, but Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez have to maximise the weekend regardless. Fernandez’ 2024 is showing flashes of what we’ve been waiting for since his promotion to the premier class, including that impressive Sprint lead a few races ago, but he’ll want more, and Oliveira wants to stamp some authority back on the dynamic.

Those rumour mills still abound at Honda, too. Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) is now in the spotlight there, with the 2020 Champion seemingly a big piece of the remaining puzzle. Still, on track the mission remains simple: move forward. Teammate Luca Marini, already signed up and with no market stress, joins him in that, and likewise Johann Zarco (CASTROL Honda LCR) on both counts. Meanwhile Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda LCR) is quietly impressing in the battle there, and he’s also a former Moto2™ winner at Assen.

At Yamaha, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) will be hoping Assen – where last year his speed was impressive – will help give their mission back to the front a boost, and his own record at the venue is a good one, too. He’s also out the shop window, head down and focused on the mission in hand. Alex Rins, meanwhile, remains on the hunt for more points in a difficult season as Yamaha look to rebuild into frontrunners, but reports from the Iwata marque’s recent test were very positive.

The headlines off track will keep us talking as we head into the weekend, but once the action starts we know Assen will grab the spotlight back for the stunning racing promised at the Cathedral. So don’t miss it, with the Championship poised for more twists, the rumour mill still going strong, and the longest-serving venue on the calendar primed to serve up another classic.

SHOWTIME

Saturday

Tissot Sprint: 15:00 (UTC +2)

Sunday

Grand Prix: 14:00 (UTC +2)

What’s happening at the #DutchGP

On Thursday afternoon, podcast Last On The Brakes welcomes Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team’s Fabio Di Giannantonio at 15:05 (UTC +2).

The first Press Conference at 16:00 then hosts Championship leader Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). 

The second line-up at 16:35 is Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team).

Moto2™: can Roberts close in on Garcia?

Following a lower-key Catalan GP, Joe Roberts (OnlyFans American Racing) bounced back brilliantly at Mugello to claim a pole position and race win, seeing the American pick up his first 25-point haul since 2022. Roberts’ timely victory sees the #16 claw back valuable points on World Championship leader Sergio Garcia (MT Helmets – MSI) after the Spaniard missed out on a rostrum finish for the first time since the Spanish GP. Garcia grabbed P4 at the chequered flag, as the Boscoscuro star heads to Assen holding a seven-point advantage in the overall standings. It’s tight at the top.

A third podium of 2024 was pocketed by Manuel Gonzalez (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) as the Spaniard pushed Roberts all the way in Italy, and after two no-scores in Le Mans and Barcelona, Gonzalez needed that P2. Having been just 0.067s away from the win, can he now build on his best finish of the season in the Netherlands?

Elsewhere, mixed fortunes came the way of the Speed Up Racing duo. The positive was Alonso Lopez finished P3, but Fermin Aldeguer’s tougher-than-many-expected season continued after he was caught up in an incident involving Jeremy Alcoba (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team). A second DNF in as many races sees the pre-season favourite needing results – and fast. 

2023 Dutch TT winner Jake Dixon (CFMoto Aspar Team) likewise wants a lot more as we return to the venue in 2024. The Briton’s Catalan GP podium couldn’t be backed up with another promising result at Mugello, so the #96 will be hunting a repeat of his 2023 heroics this weekend. In that memorable outing, Dixon pipped Ai Ogura (MT Helmets – MSI) to the top step, and after a P5 in Italy, the Japanese star will be fancying a rostrum return too.

Can the Cathedral of Speed deliver another classic? And who’s coming out on top? We’ll find out on Sunday!

Moto3™: Veijer takes aim at Alonso

The current Moto3™ state of play can be summed up in two words: David Alonso. The CFMoto Aspar Team rider has racked up three consecutive wins as the Colombian’s early season march has now birthed five victories in seven races, with his lead up to a healthy 37 points as a trip to the Cathedral of Speed awaits.

This weekend though it’s a homecoming for Mugello runner-up Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP). The Dutchman arrives in Assen with three podiums in his last four outings, the other being a P4. Veijer, after Daniel Holgado’s (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) more difficult Italian GP, is now just 11 points off the Spaniard, who currently occupies P2 in the Championship. Does a second win of 2024 beckon on home turf for Veijer? Many thousands of fans will be hoping so, and he’ll do anything to deliver.

At Mugello, that long-awaited debut podium visit was secured by Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI), while teammate Ivan Ortola will be hoping to respond after a crash on the final lap cost the Spaniard a top three finish. The latter is now 15 points adrift of Veijer as we approach the summer break. Can they close the gap near the top? And can anyone defeat Alonso?

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