MotoGP Assen: Bagnaia takes tenth pole with new circuit record

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia secured his tenth MotoGP pole position with a blistering 1’31.504 lap at the TT Circuit Assen on Saturday afternoon.

Another track record under his belt, the Italian commands Sunday’s grid from defending champion Fabio Quartararo and Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin with Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi impressing in fourth. The quartet all under the previous best set by Maverick Viñales in 2021.

MotoGP qualifying began under the threat of rain and with Enea Bastianini suffering a technical issue on the out lap with his Gresini Racing Ducati. The team scrambling to return his second bike to a dry setting while the Italian sprinted up pitlane in full kit.

Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder set the early pace as Tech3 rookie Remy Gardner and factory teammate Miguel Oliveira sat second and third with Fabio di Giannantonio bettering Franky Morbidelli in the top five.

Second time around and Oliveira took charge over the South African with Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir adrift in the third. Andrea Dovizioso made an appearance in fourth on the WithU Yamaha from Gardner and Alex Marquez as Monster Energy Yamaha’s Morbidelli dipped to seventh.

Bastianini rejoined the action at the halfway stage running tenth, narrowly behind his Gresini teammate Di Giannantonio, as Mir crashed out at turn five on his first hot lap as the second half fired up. The Italian improving to seventh next time around as the rest of the pack peeled out.

Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini advanced to fourth with three minutes on the clock as Stefan Bradl found sixth on the Repsol Honda. Binder topping the times once again, with a 1’32.485, as Diggia captured sixth from the German.

Marini continued his climb to third before setting about another flyer, the Italian falling short in the second sector as he settled for 13th on Sunday’s grid. His countrymen di Giannantonio and Bastianini frustrated with fifth and sixth behind the remounted Mir.

KTM joined the Q2 fight as Martin set a new all-time lap record with a 1’31.708 on his very first attempt. Yamaha’s Quartararo also hitting under his former teammate’s record as the session fired up with Jack Miller holding third on the Ducati Lenovo before Bagnaia stole the position from his factory colleague.

Bezzecchi continued to showcase his increasing rookie confidence from fifth ahead of the Aprilia duo of Aleix Espargaro and last year’s pole-sitter Viñales with Pramac’s Johann Zarco splitting the pair in seventh. Alex Rins circulated the Suzuki in ninth with the KTMs and Takaaki Nakagami completing the top 12 at the halfway lull.

Espargaro was straight out the blocks on the RS-GP as the second runs got up to speed. Bagnaia storming through the final chicane for a 1’31.504 to take his second circuit record in as many weeks as Bezzecchi improved again, this time to fourth, his own effort also under last year’s finest. The Aprilia captain claimed fifth as Martin slid out at turn five with Miller down at the same corner next time around.

Quartararo promoted the M1 to second with a 1’31.620 as the clock counted down, with his own turn five save into the bargain but Bagnaia’s dominance would not be challenged. Martin holding on for his first front row start since Austin, despite the late crash.

Bezzecchi prepared to head row two for tomorrow’s 26 lap race with Espargaro and Miller for company, over Zarco, Oliveira and Rins. Binder, Vinales and Nakagami rounding out the top 12 after the Aprilia rider fell foul of the yellow flags in the closing stages.

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