NOT the MotoGP News: Assen – Pass the Duchy from the left hand-side
Welcome to NOT The MotoGP News – our blog by Guy Anderson. Oh – and when you’re done, make sure to go follow Guy on Twitter – @SirGuyGuisborne
Assen is great for many reasons. It’s in The Netherlands. The people are wonderful. They love racing and the track is majestic. Oh, and they are mainly completely mad in that nice way that makes you wish you could be Dutch too.
There are downsides to Assen. The weather can always be guaranteed to be rubbish at some point and then there is the status of the track. The Cathedral. The Saturday race day and the travesty of shortening it. All of this lets TV commentators get away with trotting out cliché after cliché.
Formula 1, in its never-ending quest to suck up more money, found its snout in the corrupt backyard that is Azerbaijan. Type “how corrupt is Azerbaijan” and the search engines will send you a bill before it reveals the answer. We imagine even “the little one” thought the deal stank and so managed to engineer a way out. What all this rambling meant, was that MotoGP, although moved from a Saturday when it would never clash with F1 now had to r-jig its running order. The MotoGP race would follow Moto3. This was dangerous, as no one would ever stay to watch Moto2 would they?
In a country with the best drugs laws in Europe, some amazing beer and sex for 50 Guilders (so we’re errr told), sticking young people on fast bikes was always going to be, well, fun. And so it proved.
Jorge Martin had pole by nearly a second, and yet we all know that pole in Moto3 counts for not that much. Even being nearly a second ahead. And so it came to be. The fight for the lead must seem a fruitless one, but what else is there to do? The last time anyone led from start to finish in a Moto3 race was probably Danny Kent in his title winning year, but we all know why that was.
By lap 3 Giannantonio was down and out, and that’s a massive relief to most commentators, whilst at the front a group of five had started to make a break. And in that front five was Dutchman home-boy, Bo’Selecta! This race was going to pass quicker than a night in Amsterdam if we weren’t careful. The boys (and Maria) had a fast open track to enjoy and the laps clicked off quicker than a queue getting into the red light district in De Wallen. And all the time Martin looked the real deal. Mir and Fanny, the well known law firm, were the other two usual suspects, with Land of the Rising Bun favourite, Suzuki completing the front group.
Like the inevitable breaking of dawn each day, so the lead group of five got caught, and near-enough-home-circuit-team rider Can-it pulled a group of six along like a gaggle of school kids heading for the off licence. The inevitable fight and counter fight in the top 11 group was worthy of anyone’s money. And just as inevitable as smoking pot gives you the munchies, so it came to pass that someone would get nerfed off track. And that happened to be Bo’Selecta. Some how he stayed on and rejoined the leading group. Blimey!
And yet more riders joined the fray, including Saltire McPhee. Boy he needed a good result having had some tough rounds recently. Sun; we’re sure the sun annoys him, and you’re not going to get a lot of that at Assen. We hadn’t seen a Moto3 race this good since…. Errrr… Mugello! Mir looked on for the win, then Fenati did and then McPhee did. In the end it was Cant-it from Fanny, from Saltire who started in 19th. Bo’selecta had a nightmare last corner, and came onto the final straight in someone’s way, got knocked off and passed over the finish line separated from his bike. Ouch and bugger. See? Pole counts for nothing. Ish.
So that was great stuff, and MotoGP was up next. Herve Poncharal is no mug, and from the look of it, doesn’t suffer fools gladly. His mate Guy Forget, the tennis player, (look him up) is some mad technical genius, and between them they made the factory M1s look a bit secondhand so far. And once again they poked a muddy stick in Yamaha’s eye. Zarco on pole. With changeable conditions and a soft tyre, by the end of alp 1 he had over half a second lead. Great stuff. The Frenchman, Markie Marquez, Rossi, and porn star double Danilo Petrucci made a break for it, but the great thing about is that you get racing right through the pack. Self-anointed “bad boy” Iannone stuck in the fastest lap on lap 4; no idea why other than he’s had the proverbial rocket up his jacksy, and been warned of losing his ride we suspect. Two laps later Redding did likewise. By lap7 Mavis Viñales was up to 7th. He’d had a shocking weekend, just as Dani Pedrosa had, and both were out to prove their worth, and gain some credibility back with the pundits. Likewise Sam Lowes who seems to be involved in some sort of shockingly bad Italian soap opera that involves him being innocently naïve and open whilst everyone else is shafting him and stabbing him in the back. Except his teammate Aleix who remarkably likes Lowes because it takes the heat off him. Lowes is on a bike that’s slower than his teammate’s, and that showed. 17 laps to go and he crashed at turn 9. Bugger it. In an attempt to deflect some attention his way Tech 3’s Jonas Folger also crashed on the same lap.
Up front Rossi passed Marquez for second. Marquez was the only ‘Onda in the top 8. That’ll be getting a bit worrying for Livio Suppo… By now Rossi was on a charge reminiscent of yester-year; he passed Zarco with ease, though the French bloke does like to snap back as quick as possible and tried his hardest to do so. But them soft tyres were fading. For some inexplicable reason Viñales tossed his bike up the track and narrowly missed getting his noggin run over by Dovi at the final corner chicane.
Eleven laps to go and Pettruci moved into second place whilst Rossi pulled a lead out in first. A little further back, Dovi woken up by Mavis crashing right in front of him, started to put some good laps in catching Zarco, then passing him and likewise Marquez. You get some good racing at Assen, and we love it. 7 laps to go and the white flags were being waved. By now Zarco’s soft tyre gamble was well over, so the smooth Frenchman took another gamble of rain falling and pitted for a bike swap onto full wets. ’Twas a gamble that failed. Meanwhile Dovi got up into second, and looked like he was on for yet another win. Then with 5 laps to go, Petrucci took the lead and Marquez went past Dovi for third; this was almost as good as Moto3! Not to be outdone Crutch Low had slowly but inexorably made his way up from 8th to finish fourth. Rossi did Petrucci for first and so it was over the line. Brilliant race, and we’d tipped Rossi for the win! Great stuff.
And then. And then Moto2. Our collective finger hovering over the speed dial for The Samaritans we took a deep breath and watched on apprehensively.
From the start Frankly Morbid-deli took the lead and tried like hell not to lose it. Easy to say, even easier to do in Moto2. Normally. Oliveira is making himself and KTM look amazing in Moto2. Great start to the project that can only be scuppered by Triumph! We bet KTM wish they had such a good bike and rider in MotoGP. Meanwhile Morbid-deli went back two places in 2 corners. This wasn’t scripted! And Passini made the sort of pass on Alex Marquex you’d only ever see from Markie Marquez. Wonderful. As Pasini moved into first place, Nakagami, hopefully celebrating his move up into LCR’s team next season, showed up on the radar in second place. What? Sixteen laps to go and he took the lead! WTF? It wasn’t to last more than three laps though as Mattia realised how good the lead looks, and he re-took the lead. With 12 to go we had a four bike break; Taka, Mattia, Frankly and Timmy Luthi. It was bloody great racing for once. Frankly passed Pasini for second and set off after Nakagami. For the last third of the race these four made it worth staying for the fans. We’d have put odds on everyone leaving before the Moto2 race as it was the last main race on the card, but boy was it worth watch.
The race finished with Frankly winning from Timmy and Mattia in third. But he didn’t hang on to that place for long; taking a short cut in the last 100 metres of any race is going to get you demoted by the stewards even if it wasn’t your fault. We’re fan-bois of Mattria here and even we knew (and he later agreed) that Nakagami should have third.
But wow… no sarcasm this week. Just top racing across all three classes. After this weekend, the TV commentators are probably right in trotting out cliché after cliché.
And sorry; we’re doing a Cliff Richard, and going on a summer holiday, so no Sachsenring report for at least a week after the race