Motul TT Assen: Friday roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Rain held off for Free Practice 2 at the Motul TT Assen for the premier class, the track’s condition continuing to improve after an afternoon of sun. Top times had been in the mid 1’34s during Free Practice 1, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) the first rider to drop into the 1’33s early in the second session. Several riders arrived in Assen with new parts, both the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders running a new frame on one of their bikes while Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) used a larger set of wings on his Honda, Marquez also using them later in the session.
With rain predicted for Saturday morning, many riders pushed for a fast final lap and added even more excitement to the session. Just as he did in FP1, Iannone flew around the 4.5km TT Circuit Assen to set a fastest time of 1’33.591, 0.8s quicker than he was in the morning session. Due to his penalty in Barcelona the Italian will have to start from last, but if he can keep his pace up a top finish isn’t out of the question.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) made it an all-Italian top two ending 0.004s back on his compatriot. Assen is one of Rossi’s best tracks on the calendar with ‘The Doctor’ having taken seven premier class wins there, two coming since returning to Yamaha in 2013. During the press conference before the weekend Rossi highlighted the importance of finding a good direction with the Michelin tyres from the start of the weekend, a goal he has seemingly accomplished.
A 1’33.724 saw Marquez complete the top three, three different manufacturers in the top three. He too made significant improvements over his pace in Free Practice 1, where he ended down in 11th place. Despite debuting several new parts during the Barcelona test, Marquez’s RC213V is almost identical to the one he raced in Barcelona, aside from the new winglets.
Working the Suzuki GSX-RR around Assen proved to be a physically demanding task for Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), his front wheel rarely on the ground. Even so the impressive youngster set a 1’33.892 to end fourth. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top five and was the last rider to drop into the 1’33s.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) all gained themselves provisional access to Q2 by ending in the top ten.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) once again missed out as he finished 11th.
Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) had a fall with 37 minutes left on the clock, coming off at Turn 3. His bike took a tumble through the gravel but the Spaniard was unharmed. He has a second crash at Turn 5 late in the session.
Turn 3 also saw Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) lose the front, the Spaniard slow to his feet but able to walk away.
Riders in the Moto2™ World Championship were fortunate enough to have both their sessions held under relatively clear skies on Friday at the Motul TT Assen. This gave the riders a full day to work on the setup of their machines, the Moto2™ riders seeing some of the smallest improvements in times between the two sessions.
Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) ended as the fastest rider of the day, the lone rider able to drop into the 1’37s. He arrives in Assen after testing the KTM MotoGP™ machine in Mugello, the change of bikes not hurting him at all. Currently fourth in the championship. Luthi is 23 points off the lead and needs to start finishing on the podium rather than just finishing races to keep a challenge alive. As one of the more experienced riders in the class, he certainly has the knowledge needed to win in Assen be it wet or dry.
After topping Free Practice 1, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was again strong as he improved to a 1’38.229 to end in second. Nakagami’s session came to an early end at Turn 1 when he fell with three minutes of the session left, the front of his bike chattering about before the fall. He was unharmed and his team will have plenty of time to repair the bike before Free Practice 3.
Championship contender Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completed a 1’38.320 lap to end 0.358s off Luthi. He was the only rider in the top three of the championship to end in the top five, both his rivals encountering slight hiccups in the session.
Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was a faller during the session, coming off at Turn 15. He was separated from his bike, as was his fuel tank. Before his crash he managed to set the fourth fastest time of the session and the day overall. His teammate, Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was right behind him in fifth.
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) missed out on the top five by the narrowest of margins, only 0.001s. Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) all managed to end inside Rookie Canet steals top spot in final moments of FP2.
After a rain hit first practice, riders in the Moto3™ World Championship were ready for a productive 40 minutes during Free Practice 2. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) set a 1’45.331 to lead the first session, but the time was bested almost immediately with improved conditions blessing the Dutch track, the circuit a comfortable 30°C.
Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) may be out of the Motul TT Assen due to a broke leg but the Estrella Galicia 0,0 colours were still flying high as Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) topped Free Practice 2. The rookie set a 1’43.031 on his final lap to steal top spot in the session, 0.113s faster than second place. This is Canet’s first trip to the legendary Dutch track, but he’s proving a quick learner.
Since winning in Qatar Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) has been unable to return to the podium, crashes ruining a number of promising races. But the Italian has continued his season undeterred, working diligently to return to the front. A 1’43.144 saw him lead the session until the final seconds when Canet pushed him down to second.
Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) made it two rookies in the top three with a 1’43.202. The Italian recently announced he will remain with SKY Racing Team VR46 for a further two years and is showing exactly why he earned the contract. Only 0.171s split the top three, the Moto3™ class as tight as ever.
Livio Loi (RW Racing GP) did exceedingly well at his team’s home race to end fourth. All of the top five were within 0.2s of each other as Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) completed a 1’43.229 lap to round out the top five.
Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) and Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) were all within the top ten. Meanwhile championship leader Brad Binder had a somewhat tricky session, ending 14th.
Britain’s Danny Webb (Platinum Bay Real Estate) completed his second session aboard the Mahindra MGP30 in 31st, the lightweight class veteran replacing Karel Hanika for the rest of 2016.
Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) crashed very early in the session at Turn 17 after coming into contact with Alexis Masbou (Peugeot MC Saxoprint). Masbou was awarded a three-place grid penalty for dangerous riding during the session.
Jorge Martin (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) chose to withdraw from the weekend due to pain from his still healing right wrist. He will be replaced at the Dutch GP by Albert Arenas.