Espargaro shows his speed in Assen while Marquez walks away from heavy high side
An impressive morning performance from Pol Espargaro marked a positive start to round nine of the World Championship as both he and team-mate Marc Marquez hold provisional spots in the top ten after the opening day in the Netherlands.
Conditions at the TT Circuit Assen deteriorated throughout the course of the day on Friday, mild morning temperatures giving way to splashes of rain in the afternoon. The Repsol Honda Team did well to work around the conditions to make the most of the clear track time. Morning times would prove crucial as falls and the rain upset running in the afternoon for both riders.
Pol Espargaro’s weekend in Assen got off to a strong start as he worked through Free Practice 1, sitting inside the top two for all but a few minutes of the first session. A 1’33.183 saw him end the opening practice of the day 0.111s back from the top spot and provided a good morale boost for the weekend overall. A harmless fall at Turn 5 and then rain meant that Espargaro was unable to improve on his FP1 time in the afternoon, but as a result ended the day second overall. In the end, Friday in Assen proved to be an overwhelmingly positive start to the weekend for the #44.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda Team garage, Marc Marquez went straight back to work after his emotional win in Germany. A productive first practice session helped Marquez to build a foundation for the Dutch weekend, almost immediately improving his time early in FP2. But a heavy fall at Turn 10 in Free Practice 2 unfortunately ended his afternoon prematurely. The vicious high side saw Marquez walk away without any major injury, he and his team working to prevent similar crashes in the future.
All eyes will be on the sky tomorrow morning for Free Practice 3 at 09:55 Local Time Saturday, June 26 to see if the rain will return or if there will be a final chance to fight for Q2 positions.
“Today has been a good day, the bike was working well, I was riding happy, and I was riding really how I wanted to. Everything was coming in an easy way; I wasn’t having to push or override the bike. In the afternoon we had plans to try some other things, but the track changed a lot even with light rain. Overall, the result is very good and I’m really happy with how the day has gone. The new asphalt is really good, it has a lot of grip and helped make it a really good first day. The crash today was a very small one, my leathers weren’t even damaged! Today the lap time shows how happy I am riding the bike.”
“First of all I have to say I feel lucky to escape in a good condition overall, these kinds of crashes can be very hard and very dangerous. It’s painful, but nothing is wrong. It was a strange crash because I didn’t think that I was over the limit and I was riding like I was in the morning, finding the limit and what way to follow. In this corner we rely on the Traction Control a lot, but it wasn’t there and when I shifted the rear started sliding and then I fell. We need to understand what happened to get the confidence to push through that corner again because right now, there will be a lack of confidence tomorrow. Before this we were having a positive day and in Free Practice 2 I was feeling good.”
Dutch GP Combined Free Practice Classification
Assen is the only venue to have held a round of the Motorcycle World Championship every year since its creation in 1949. The circuit was purpose built for the Dutch TT in 1955, with previous events having been held on public roads. The track is narrow, with rapid changes in… read more.
|Length||4.542 kilometres / 2.822 miles|
|Longest straight||0.487 kilometres / 0.303 miles|
TT Circuit Assen, De Haar, Assen, The Netherlands - View in Google Maps
|Pole Position||1m 31.504s (178.6km/h) Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati, 2022)|
|Race Lap||1m 32.500s (176.7km/h) Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia, 2022)|
|Race Time||40m 25.205s (175.2km/h) Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati, 2022)|
|2022 Race Winner||Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati)|