MOTOGP – SPRINT: Bagnaia takes sublime Sprint win to close in on Martin

Francesco Bagnaia’s (Ducati Lenovo Team) statement weekend at the Motul TT Assen continued on Saturday afternoon as the reigning Champion took the Tissot Sprint win – making it back-to-back victories on Saturday afternoon for the first time in his career. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) followed him home in second to limit the damage in the standings, but the two are now split by just 15 points. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) completed the Sprint podium as his speed at the Cathedral continued, with drama hitting for Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) as he slid out early on.

As the lights went out. Bagnaia held on to the holeshot from pole, with Martin keeping second but Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) attacking and taking over in third. That put Viñales on the attack to take it back, but by the end of Lap 2, the Aprilia had homed back in and shot past at the chicane. Meanwhile, that drama had hit for Marc Marquez. On the tail of that duel, the #93 overcooked it and suddenly slid out, no way to get back in it and forced to watch the Sprint from the sidelines.

Back at the front, Bagnaia had the hammer down. Still, the gap was hovering around seven tenths, going up and down here and there as Martin held on. But by seven to go, it was the gap back to Viñales the #89 had to watch instead, with Bagnaia edging clear and the Aprilia homing in.

Martin responded quickly, however, pulling it back out to a second – but it didn’t get him any closer to Bagnaia. The top three were in a holding pattern just as the battle behind them was starting to heat up.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) had been on the tail of Alex Marquez since Viñales got back past the #73, but by half distance the two had some company: a queue of Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) had arrived on the scene.

Once there, Bastianini struck quick, past Binder and then immediately glued to the rear of Alex Marquez. The ‘Beast’ stalked him round the rest of the lap and then attacked at the chicane, taking over in fourth and pulling away. The #73 was then given a Long Lap for track limits, and soon after there was another key move in the group, also at the chicane, with Diggia attacking Binder. The VR46 rider headed a little wide, both affected but keeping it pinned, just as Alex Marquez had suffered his own little wobble. Into Turn 1 for the final lap, the net result was Diggia leading Espargaro leading Binder, with the #73 dropping to the back of the gaggle and still with that Long Lap to serve.

Up ahead, there were no dramas for the top three. No one had an answer for Bagnaia as the reigning Champion won his second Sprint in a row for the first time ever, and Martin took an important second place as the Championship gap just starts to get closer once more. Viñales’ podium is another positive as he looks to better it on Sunday and beat Aprilia’s best MotoGP™ result at Assen as yet: third.

Bastianini took that P4 after his charge up from outside the top ten on the grid, and in the grand battle behind, Diggia completed the top five ahead of Binder. After not taking it in the remaining laps, Alex Marquez’ LLP was converted into the equivalent time second penalty and drops him down the order to eighth – moving Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) up into seventh, from P13 on the grid. Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) completed the Sprint point scorers, with rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) losing out in P10.

Espargaro slid out fast late on, losing his chance at that battle to the flag. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing) has been diagnosed with small vertebrae lumbar fractures and has been declared unfit after his crash on Lap 4.

MOTOGP – RACE: Hat-trick hero: Bagnaia retains Assen crown

After a dominant performance on Saturday, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) repeated his success on Sunday – ending a perfect weekend by taking his 23rd victory with Ducati. The #1 has won for the third consecutive year at the Motul TT Assen as he continues to close Jorge Martin’s (Prima Pramac Racing) lead in the Championship, with the #89’s lead down to just 10 points ahead of Germany. Martin charged hard and kept Bagnaia honest but could only manage second-best, bringing home a further 20 points on Sunday.

The final spot on the podium went the way of Enea Bastianini, who completed a brilliant weekend for the Ducati Lenovo Team. Bastianini had a spectacular recovery ride to charge from P10 on the grid and carve through the field.

The lights went out and it was an identical launch from Bagnaia, who shot into the lead on the run down to Turn 1. Martin also had an excellent start, placing himself into P3 on the run down to Turn 1 before passing Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) later in the lap.

Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) would soon be the next rider to carve through the pack – finding a gap in Viñales’ armour to take P3. The front three would stay settled for the opening stage of the Grand Prix with the fastest lap changing hands multiple times.

Further back, the battle for the final spot inside the top five was on, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) and Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) going head-to-head. Di Giannantonio soon overtook escaped Acosta’s grasp before catching and overtaking Viñales for fourth.

Di Giannantonio soon overtook Marc Marquez for third, with tension building in the battle for the podium. At the back of the group, Acosta was soon caught by Bastianini, with the #31 beginning to have moments with the soft rear tyre. The Beast found his way through on Lap 18, completing a textbook move at Turn 5.

Meanwhile, at the front, the gap began to increase and was now almost two seconds, with less than 10 laps remaining. However, the podium battle was still on with Viñales now in third position – passing both Marc Marquez and Bastianini with Di Giannantonio down to sixth. Bastianini soon made the move on the #93, with Marc Marquez running wide and briefly dropping outside the top five. The Beast then set a sensational pace to catch and pass Viñales for P3 at the end of Lap 22.

On the final lap, Bagnaia extended his gap to three seconds, storming to victory again at Assen. Nobody had an answer for the #1 with Martin crossing the take second position and Bastianini joining them on the podium to round off a brilliant day for Ducati. Meanwhile, there would be late drama for Acosta with a crash at Turn 7 on the last lap.

Fourth place went the way of Marc Marquez, who took advantage of a mistake from Viñales on the final lap, which allowed the #93 to pass. However, a post-race tyre pressure penalty dropped Marquez from P4 to P10 in the results.

This means Di Giannantonio finished P5 after Viñales ran onto the green at the final chicane and was demoted one position at the chequered flag – dropping Viñales to P5. P6 went the way of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who finished as the top KTM and the top rider with a soft tyre. Meanwhile, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) took P7 ahead of Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) on the second-placed Aprilia.

It would be a close fight for the final spots inside the top 10, with Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) claiming P9, and Marquez dropping to P10.

“It was incredible, even though the race itself was a bit of a strange one. I tried to push hard from the beginning, but I was struggling a bit with the rear end, especially on the exit of the right-hand corners. The feeling improved lap after lap and, when the others slowed down a little, I managed to keep my pace and also push a bit more. I managed to bridge the gap to the riders fighting for the podium: I gave it a go and have fun with some overtakes and ended up third. Obviously, I knew Pecco was out of reach and Martín also did a good job in trying to stay with him, so it’s good this way. I’m very happy and I’d like to thank the team for the work done because two days ago we were not in the position to do well, while now we’re on the podium.”
Enea Bastianini – P3

Augusto Fernández

“A very hard weekend where I just missed feeling on the track. I was hoping for a bit more today but I also knew it was important to finish the race. At least I took two points. That was a small positive. I’m looking forward to Sachsenring already where I hope we can be a bit more competitive.”
Augusto Fernández P14

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