MotoGP Assen: Drying FP2 sees Bagnaia bounce back

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia was back on top of the standings in a drying FP2 session at Assen TT Circuit on Friday.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro led MotoGP Champion Fabio Quartararo in the top three after a rapid final session with Suzuki Ecstar’s duo enveloping Jack Miller in the top six.

Espargaro kicked off FP2 with a 1’42.701 to take third in the overall standings. Morning leader Miller trailing the RS-GP by a mere 0.028s as the session fired up with Alex Marquez third. KTM’s Miguel Oliveira set an identical time to his earlier best with just his third lap of the afternoon as further improvements came in from Bagnaia and Quartararo.

Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins was up to speed quickly as he advanced the benchmark to a 1’42.312, to deny Espargaro before Marquez and Johann Zarco bettered overall. The LCR rider hitting the 1’42.115 pace with his sixth lap of the 4.5km circuit after ten minutes on track.

Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro was the only rider in the top ten yet to improve as the clock hit half an hour to go. Quartararo holding the gateway time in tenth as Fabio Di Giannantonio claimed eighth. Bagnaia up to second as Franky Morbidelli dumped his teammate out of contention on his way to fifth.

The Monster Energy rider was firmly in the groove as the number 21 struck for the lead with his tenth lap of the afternoon. A 1’41.834 commanding the standings by almost three-tenths from Marquez and Bagnaia with Quartararo back in tenth.

The Suzuki duo of Rins and Joan Mir sat fifth and sixth before the 2020 Champion improved to fourth. Oliveira and Espargaro having upped the outright pace with the KTM striking the first 1’40 of the day, eight-tenths clear of his nearest rival.

Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini was the first to head out on slicks at the halfway stage, from 22nd. Pol Espargaro bettered his brother in the top three as Pramac’s Zarco upped the anti with a 1’39.511 in the improving conditions. The Italian’s gamble paying off with the ninth fastest time before he claimed second with a 1’40.5.

Marini’s confidence was fully on show as he struck for glory with a 1’38.880 as the second half unfolded. The factory Yamaha’s taking note as they too headed out on slicks with Lorenzo Savadori doing likewise on his way to third with Aprilia’s test machine.

It was an Italian one-two next time around as Marini continued to fine-tune the pace and Savadori looked to answer. Quartararo improving to fourth before Oliveira and teammate Morbidelli took their turns in the position and the KTM shot for third.

Gresini’s burgeoning rookie arrived to second only to be demoted by the MotoGP Champion on 1’37 pace. Miller and Oliveira arriving a second in advance as the times dropped dramatically with Quartararo finally on top with a 1’36.255.

Ten to go and the standings ignited across the board. Marco Bezzecchi the man to beat with a 1’35.880 from Savadori, Bagnaia and Quartararo as Di Giannantonio joined the party in third.

Ducati looked to take charge with both factory riders before Oliveira moved the goalposts again - into the 1’34’s. Diggia returning to third before a flurry of activity found Takaaki Nakagami and Morbidelli heading Pol Espargaro and Quartararo in the top five.

Bagnaia bettered overall as Maverick Viñales arrived to third at his favoured Assen Circuit. Quartararo taking over from his long-term rival with a 1’34.420 as Enea Bastianini took a shot a the top six.

Bezzecchi was back in charge with a 1’34.312 before the rookie’s run ended with a crash at turn five. Quartararo, Rins and Zarco advancing the pace in quick succession until Aleix Espargaro outpaced the group with a 1’33.652 in the final minute.

Bagnaia looked to challenge, falling just a tenth short with his penultimate effort but a final push sealed the deal with a 1’33.274. Espargaro, Quartararo, Rins and Miller completed the top five from Mir, Viñales, Brad Binder, Zarco and the fallen Bezzecchi. Bastianini, Nakagami and Marini the first adrift of the provisional promotion places in the final shuffle with Morbidelli dumped down to 18th.

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