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MotoGP

Bezzecchi’s perfect Dutch TT continues with sprint win

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

VR46 Ducati MotoGP rider Marco Bezzecchi continued his perfect Dutch TT weekend by winning the Assen sprint race.

Starts have been Bezzecchi’s Achilles’ heel this year, but while his getaway from pole wasn’t particularly poor this time it was still enough to set up a loss of two positions.

With Pecco Bagnaia drawing alongside, Bezzecchi tried to hang his year-old Desmosedici around the outside of Turn 1, Haarbocht, but was forced out onto the outside kerb, the resulting momentum loss allowing the predictably fast-starting KTM of Brad Binder to clear him into into the Madjik corner.

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This was a short-lived setback, however, with Bezzecchi picking off Binder at De Bult on the second lap, and making easy work of what had been a half-second lead established by Bagnaia.

On the fourth lap, Bagnaia was wide coming through Turns 3 and 4, and though he kept the inside line into Strubben, the first left-hander of the lap, Bezzecchi managed to stay alongside and draw ahead coming into the ultra-fast Veenslang.

That was effectively game over for the lead battle. Over the rest of the lap, Bezzecchi established his own half-second lead, and though Bagnaia was suddenly making up ground on him in the closing stages, Bezzecchi responded deftly to the threat.

In fact, as the VR46 rider pulled away, Bagnaia instead found himself being closed in on by the trio of Binder, Fabio Quartararo and a charging Aleix Espargaro, but had enough margin in reserve to finish second.

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Binder took the chequered flag in third but was handed a long-lap penalty for a track limits infringement – he breached them coming out of Stekkenwal on the penultimate lap – having spent so much of the race on a track limits warning.

As he was naturally unable to serve it on track, it was converted to a three-second penalty, dropping him behind Quartararo and Espargaro.

For Quartararo, who is nursing a fractured toe this weekend, it meant the second top-three finish of the season and by far his best sprint race result, the 2021 champion having only picked up a single solitary point from all the previous sprints.

Pramac Ducati rider Jorge Martin was sixth, having run wide at Haarbocht after the start before fighting his way through into the top five, then later ceding the place to Espargaro.

Martin is now 21 points Bagnaia in the standings, and still has 10 in hand over Bezzecchi.

Maverick Vinales couldn’t follow his Aprilia team-mate Espargaro’s charge, slowed by clipping Luca Marini’s VR46-run Ducati through the Geert Timmer chicane, but did eventually pass Marini and settle into a seventh-place finish.

Works Ducati rider Enea Bastianini and Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez completed the points-scoring top nine, Bastianini having come through from 18th on the grid. Both were promoted a position through a post-race penalty for Marini, who had finished eighth on the road but cut the chicane on the final lap after contact.

There was apparent opening-lap contact through Duikersloot between Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) and Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia), with both eventually ending up well out of the points.

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Also well out of the points was Marc Marquez, the Honda rider moving towards the top 10 early on but ultimately slumping to 17th, 20 seconds off the win.

Gresini Ducati’s Fabio Di Giannantonio was the only retirement from the race, crashing out on the fourth lap.

Sprint Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Bike Gap Best Time
1 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1m32.353s
2 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +1.294s 1m32.386s
3 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +1.872s 1m32.476s
4 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Aprilia +2.245s 1m32.399s
5 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +4.582s 1m32.414s
6 Jorge Martin Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +5.036s 1m32.558s
7 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Aprilia +5.876s 1m32.473s
8 Enea Bastianini Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +10.102s 1m33.003s
9 Alex Marquez Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +10.525s 1m33.015s
10 Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +10.556s 1m33.127s
11 Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +11.191s 1m33.129s
12 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +11.473s 1m32.873s
13 Johann Zarco Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +15.439s 1m32.997s
14 Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +17.754s 1m33.292s
15 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +19.508s 1m33.359s
16 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia Racing Aprilia +19.664s 1m33.287s
17 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team Honda +19.916s 1m33.478s
18 Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia +20.583s 1m33.393s
19 Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia +24.269s 1m33.699s
20 Iker Lecuona Repsol Honda Team Honda +24.727s 1m33.848s
21 Jonas Folger GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +32.056s 1m34.409s
22 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda Honda +35.372s 1m33.888s
Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1m33.618s
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