MotoGP 2018 – Assen
After two weekends ruled by one man, the timesheets have had a shake up at the Motul TT Assen with Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) taking to the top late in FP2 to go fastest on Friday, 0.121 seconds ahead of Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Maverick Viñales – P1
“We worked on some small details, the parts where we lost the most in Montmeló, especially the start and the first few laps. We were competitive there at the end of the race, so we are trying to give me a good feeling with the bike in the early laps. I feel good in Assen, it’s a good track for me. The bike is working really well and I’m so happy about the work of the team. We’ll still keep focused and maintain this level of concentration to work on the small details and build up to a good weekend. We want to make the start the best we can. We were struggling last time, but we’re hoping to solve it. It’s difficult to predict what we can expect, but after a positive first day, we are on the level to fight for the race.”
Andrea Iannone – P2
“I think it’s been a positive FP2 for us and we worked well during the afternoon. And we improved a lot compared to this morning, because in FP1 I struggled a bit with stability. We need to make one more big step because we’re losing traction, especially in the long corner, and we’re getting a lot of sliding and spinning. We’ll try to improve for tomorrow. I don’t feel the new spec engine that much at this track, but for sure it’s always positive to improve the engine.”
Under sunny – and scorching – skies at the TT Circuit Assen, the two men who fought for the 2017 win dueled it out for third, with Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) just 0.015 ahead of compatriot Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) by the end of action. ‘Petrux’ was also top Independent Team rider on Day 1 on his Ducati, with fastest Honda and fellow Independent Team rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) locking out the top five.
Danilo Petrucci – P3
“I am pleased with this first day of free practice. I did a good time in FP2 although I am sure that the real battle will be tomorrow in FP3. The Top 10 standings are very tight but I think we have the potential to win the direct Q2”.
Valentino Rossi – P4
“On paper we expect to be strong in Assen, but you never know. The first day was positive, because I was good in the morning and also in the afternoon I was inside the top-4, which is not so bad. The bike works well here in Assen and also the tyres are good, allowing you to push and have a good pace for many laps. On the other side, it‘s also true that all the top riders are very fast. The pace is very similar, so we need to work well, also to try to understand the best tyre choice for Sunday. We hope that this weather will continue for the entire weekend.”
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“It’s good that we’ve got consistent weather, last year we only had FP1 and FP2 to try things with the bike before it started to rain. Knowing the plan ahead is good so we can start to look towards what we’ll work on tomorrow, which I think will be to try and make the bike a little bit more stable and to try and find a little more rear grip. Overall today we were pleased with the pace and the performance of the bike. The bike did seem quite difficult to ride on the change of direction and we will work on it for tomorrow, but overall the lap time was not bad and the speed was there.”
After the swing of momentum of late in the Ducati Team, Andrea Dovizioso will be happy to have edged out teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the combined timesheets, with ‘DesmoDovi’ taking P6 and Lorenzo just behind in P7 – despite a rare crash for the ‘Spartan’ sustained in FP1.
Andrea Dovizioso – P6
“Today was a positive first day: we started off well in the morning and this afternoon we made a further step forward. I’m pleasantly surprised because half-way through the session we lapped with a very good pace and to be honest I didn’t really expect that, seeing as it’s never easy here at Assen. There are a lot of fast riders out there, but we are fast as well and this was the main aim for today. Now we must continue to work on several aspects that can make all the difference in the race, while on my quick lap I could have done better but I encountered a lot of traffic.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P7
“It wasn’t a particularly brilliant day because we weren’t up amongst the quickest riders, but I’m quite happy with my sensations and I think we have a wide margin for improvement. At the moment our weak point is the final sector, where I still have to understand what the right line is so I can be as quick as the leading guys, and also with the set-up we will have to modify a few details, because the bike is a bit unstable in the fast corners. We still have a lot of work to do but we know we have the potential to be competitive.”
The two Ducati men were split by almost nothing, with a difference of only 0.011 and both just ahead of Marquez in eighth. Marquez also suffered a few moments and twitches in FP2 but no crash, and after topping FP1 was not focusing on a fast lap thus he slipped to eighth on the combined practice times.
Marc Marquez – P8
“All in all, the day was quite good because here in Assen we normally struggle, whereas today I felt good with the bike from the beginning and was able to keep a good rhythm. The bike was a bit unstable, but we improved that with the setup. In the afternoon, we worked a lot for the race, on hard tyres. It looks like everything is going in the correct direction, but at the same time it seems that everything is very tight this weekend. The weather is good, so everyone can prepare well for the race. Choosing the right tyres will be important, especially the rear. We have two very similar options, and that can lead to an advantage or a mistake. We have to choose well.”
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was back on song on Friday at the Dutch GP after a more difficult home race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, making it two Hamamatsu factory machines on for provisional Q2 graduation as the Spaniard took ninth – and only 0.006 off reigning Champion Marquez.
Alex Rins – P9
“I can feel the improvement in power delivery from the new engine spec. on the straight. In the middle of the corners and the corner exits, the engine is working in the same way, so it’s mainly on the straight where it gives us a bit more power and thanks to this I can be faster on the straights. We’ve started this weekend well and we’re working step-by-step on race set-up. Tomorrow we’ll work on the stability of the bike.”
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) surived a crash in the afternoon to round out the top ten as the Frenchman continues his search for his earlier season momentum.
Johann Zarco – P10
“This morning the beginning here in Assen was difficult. I was sliding a lot with the bike and when this happens, you lose the control too much. So, I was fighting from the first practice on and knew, that we have to try to control the bike better. In the afternoon we did a huge step, that helped me a lot. Unfortunately, I had a small crash, but luckily I don’t feel any pain, plus we understand the reason for this, which is important. I think we can keep on working with this good feeling we had in the afternoon, I still enjoy sitting on the bike and this will for sure help to find the pace to be with the top guys again.”
Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was top rookie in P12 overall after initially making it into the top ten, only just behind Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).
Dani Pedrosa – P11
“As always, things are a bit difficult at this track, but some runs were better that others. Something we need to focus on is our performance with the soft tyre. Today we weren’t able to improve when we fitted it. Another area we need to address is the T4 sector of the track, where we want to perform better and be faster. For the rest, we’re getting on the rhythm and hopefully we’ll be able to exploit the good weather and take a step tomorrow.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P12
“I felt very good on the first day, we are just 0.8 from the front. I have the sensation that I can do a little bit better, but sometimes you feel this, but something disturbs you. I was on the fast lap and found a bit of traffic. Anyway, I believe that I can improve my lap time from now. Overall, it’s ok. In the first Free Practice I tried to learn and tried to understand the track, because this circuit is very fast. In FP2 I felt really good, like in Montmeló we are close to the top 10 again, which is quite good. I’m the first rookie again and aim to stay in this position, plus trying to get into Q2. I hope that we can make another step forward tomorrow.”
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was another big name who, like Pedrosa, stands to lose out on automatic graduation to Q2 if he can’t improve in FP3, with the Australian having been P4 in FP1 before only going thousandths faster in the afternoon. He ended the day in P16.
Jack Miller – P16
“We have problems with the rear grip. We can’t find traction especially in the first part of the circuit. With the hard tyre I went strong but in the time attack, I wasn’t able to be competitive. We’ll work to solve the problems tonight and I’m confident.”
Lucky for the likes of Miller and Pedrosa, Friday was a sunny one and it doesn’t look set to change despite the reputation of the TT Circuit Assen for rain.
Francesco Bagnaia’s (Sky Racing Team VR46) Motul TT Assen got off to the perfect start as the Championship leader topped both FP1 and FP2 on Friday, with Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) second on the combined timesheets and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) third on the opening day at Assen.
Bagnaia improved his time by over a tenth of a second in the afternoon, setting a 1:38.019 to finish 0.100 ahead of rookie sensation Mir, who in turn improved his time by seven tenths from FP1 to jump up to P2 from P10 this morning. Marini made it two VR46 bikes in the top three in the Netherlands after finishing 16th in FP1, an impressive afternoon session from the Italian.
After finishing third in FP1, Barcelona race winner Fabio Quartararo (Lightech – Speed Up Racing) confirmed he’s in the hunt for another podium fight after ending the day fourth on the combined timesheets, just 0.010 behind Marini and 0.165 off Bagnaia’s time. Just behind the Frenchman and rounding out the top five in the intermediate class was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40), cementing his P5 from FP1 – 0.280 off the top at the close of play.
Fellow Italian Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was sixth quickest on the opening day, jumping up two positions from his eighth-place finish in the morning, with teammate Andrea Locatelli the only rider in the top ten who failed to improve his time from FP1 – slipping from P2 to P7 in the afternoon.
After a crash in the morning session, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) had no such trouble in FP2, ending the day eighth fastest overall to finish 0.434 behind Bagnaia’s time. Marcel Schroetter (Dynavolt Intact GP) consolidated ninth place on the combined timesheets after finishing just inside the top ten in both sessions, with Romano Fenati’s (Marinelli Snipers Team) time of 1:38.988 just 0.039 behind the German – the rookie climbing five positions from his P15 in FP1 to end Friday as the tenth quickest rider.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who sits second in the Championship, ended Friday 12th on the combined timesheets, 0.488 off the quickest time set by title rival Bagnaia and 0.008 behind teammate Brad Binder – the South African ended the day 11th overall.
Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team) crashed twice in the session, with Federico Fuligni (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) also crashing – riders ok. Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) then crashed heavily at Turn 15 towards the end of the session, with the Japanese rider taken to hospital for further checks to his left hand.
Remy Gardner continues his return from injury and was 21st at the end of day one.
“I would have liked a bit more today, but with the 3-tyre we’ve been doing ok. I think we could have improved a little bit more, but we wanted to try the softer option and I thought we’d probably gain there. Yet, the bike was just not rideable with this. This is the first time, that we are in this situation, so this is a bit confusing. I mean with the number 3 tyre we are feeling pretty confident, so we’ll keep on working with this one for the rest of the weekend and I’m sure we can pull out a decent result tomorrow. We’ll work hard tonight and then giving it all tomorrow!”
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was the quickest rider in Moto3 FP2 at the Motul TT Assen to top the combined timesheets on the opening day, after finishing fourth in the morning. The Spaniard leads compatriot Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) overall, but FP1’s pace setter suffered a heavy crash at the end of FP2 at Turn 4 and needed to be stretchered off.
On his final run, Canet set a flurry of quick times to confirm his speed at Assen, a venue he was victorious at last season.
Thankfully, Martin was declared fit after a checkup in the medical centre and will be ready to battle on Saturday. Meanwhile, after earning his first Grand Prix podium at the Catalan GP, Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) enjoyed a great Friday at the Dutch GP, finishing the day third fastest overall after ending FP1 in P10. The Argentine was one of three riders to set a time in the 1:42.8 bracket, with John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) firing in an impressive final run of the day to finish fourth quickest on the combined timesheets, 0.155 off Canet after the Scotsman was third in the morning.
Jerez race winner Philipp Oettl (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing) set a 1:42.856 to end the day fifth quickest, jumping up the timesheets late in FP2 after ending FP1 in ninth place. 0.086 behind the German was the resurgent Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) in sixth, upping his time by over a second in the afternoon to leap up from 11th place finish in FP1.
Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrüstelGP) was second in the morning and lead for the majority of the afternoon session, but the Italian eventually ended the day seventh fastest – 0.288 behind Canet’s benchmark. Teammate Jakub Kornfeil consolidated a top ten place in the afternoon after ending FP1 sixth, the Czech rider was a slender 0.022 off Bezzecchi’s time in eighth.
Japan’s Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) was ninth on the combined times, impressively jumping up from 24th in FP1. Rounding out the top ten in the lightweight class was second in the Championship Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), the Italian was P14 in the morning but ended the day less than half a second behind Canet in 10th on the combined timesheets.