The Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia has claimed early bragging rights at the Motul TT Assen, with the fastest MotoGP™ lap in Friday Free Practice. The weather cleared up for FP2 at the TT Circuit Assen and Bagnaia, who is looking for a return to his race-winning form after two consecutive zeroes, went as quick as a 1:33.274 on slick Michelin tyres.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) thought he had claimed second but he had his last run cancelled post-session due to a technical breach and is officially 25th-fastest. It is instead the man who he is trying to overhaul in the World Championship, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), who inherits second position on the timesheet.
Marini leads the switch to slicks
Bagnaia’s factory Ducati team-mate Jack Miller had set the pace on a 1:42.589 in an FP1 session during which it had rained throughout, but the showers had stopped by the time pit lane opened for FP2. The Assen circuit remained wet for the time being, but it took less than 10 minutes for Aleix Espargaro to establish a new weekend benchmark, and the lap times continued to fall.
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) had just gone into the 1:39s, around halfway into the session, as fellow Ducati pilot Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) became the first rider to switch to slicks. With the track drying out, at least on the race line, the Italian was quickly down to a 1:38.880 and soon everyone was coming in to get off their wet tyres.
The timing screen started to light up and it was Marini into the 1:37s in the 32nd minute, then Miller into the 1:36s in the 34th minute, and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) into the 1:35s in 35th minute.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was first to crack the 1:34s, with about eight minutes remaining, and Quartararo reset the fastest lap with a 1:33.908 in the last three minutes before the chequered flag, then Aleix Espargaro got down to a 1:33.652 during his last run.
Bagnaia snatches top spot
With the chequers unfurled, it was Bagnaia who lifted himself from third to the top with his 1:33.274, while Quartararo eked out a bit more time when he clocked a 1:33.579. Those two were split by Aleix Espargaro when he clocked a 1:33.452 – a lap that would later be scrubbed off due to the aforementioned stewards decision – while Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) went fourth-fastest with a 1:33.611.
Miller rounded out the top five on a 1:33.833, ahead of Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on a 1:33.899, Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) on a 1:33.938, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) on a 1:34.127, Zarco on a 1:34.286 in ninth. Bezzecchi had been second fastest on a 1:34.312 when he had a low-speed spill at De Strubben in the final minutes and would be shuffled back to 10th by the time the music stopped.
The notables outside the Q2 cut-off
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) had been first of those on the outside of Q2 looking in on a 1:34.316, until Aleix Espargaro’s penalty. However, Bagnaia’s fastest lap is around two tenths of a second slower than Viñales had gone when he set the pace 12 months ago in combined Friday practice at Assen, and the forecast for Saturday morning is more dry conditions. That will be good news for the likes of Oliveira and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), who are currently 15th and 16th respectively but should have a chance to get into the top 10 in FP3.
Will the rain stay away and we see another shake-up in FP3? Find out on Saturday from 09:55 (GMT +2)!
MotoGP™ Top 10 on Friday: (Updated)
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:33.274
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 0.305
3. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.337
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.559
5. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.625
6. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.664
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.853
8. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) + 1.012
9. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 1.038
10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 1.042