Assen MotoGP Results 2019
The long wait is over for Yamaha, with a first win since last year’s Australian GP. And factory Monster Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales’s victory was backed by a second Yamaha on the podium, with satellite Petronas team rider Fabio Quartararo a strong third, in the eighth race of the season.
It had been class rookie and pole starter Quartararo who led the most of the 26 laps of the 4.542-km classic Assen circuit; but by the end it was championship leader Marc Marquez who pushed Vinales hardest, until the Repsol Honda rider settled for second with three laps to go. With title rival Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati trailing in fourth, it was enough to extend his title lead still further.
“It’s amazing. I’ve had some very tough moments,” said Vinales. “Somehow we’ve found a good set-up for the races. I think I could have won at Montmelo [he was knocked off early on by Lorenzo]. I was very happy to cross the line – a lot of pressure lifted.”
Marquez had chosen a soft rear tyre. “We knew in practice the Yamahas are very, very strong here, and this track we always struggle. So I said okay, I’ll use the soft and try for the podium. I’m not sure if I couldn’t have been fast in the early laps with the hard. I tried to stay with Vinales not to win, but to avoid fighting with Quartararo at the end.”
The young Frenchman’s ride was heroic, after he’d been unsure he could even finish. Arm-pump surgery less than three weeks ago had been painful from the start, and “I was waking up with pain in the night”. But leading a MotoGP race for the first time was “the best feeling in my life”, and a second successive podium the reward for his persistence.
Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) had led the first two laps, then his chance of victory ended with a crash at the far end of the track.
The front three gradually outpaced fast starter Joan Mir on the second Suzuki after he fell back among the factory Ducatis, with Danilo Petrucci getting ahead of Andrea Dovizioso in the latter half of the race, only to succumb not only to Dovi, who was fourth, but also in the last lap Franco Morbidelli. The second Petronas Yamaha rider had found extra speed in the closing laps, after earlier falling victim to Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
The Briton was out of touch in seventh at the end; while Mir had run wide and dropped to eighth. Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) hung on to ninth narrowly from Andrea Iannone (Aprilia), who was closing rapidly in the final laps.
Valentino Rossi’s bad weekend continued. Starting from 14th on the grid, he’d got up to 11th when he collided with second LCR Honda rider Taka Nakagami running into the fast Stekkenwal corner. Both crashed out.
Marquez goes to the German GP next weekend, where he is undefeated, with a 44-point lead, 160 points to Dovi’s 116. Petrucci has 108, then Rins 101, Rossi 72, and the rising Quartararo 67.
Moto2 Race – 24 laps, 109.008 km
High drama in the best Moto2 race in the new Triumph-powered era yielded a first win for Flexbox HP40 Kalex rider Augusto Fernandez, but bitter gall for Spanish compatriot Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex).
Crashes that depleted the once super-close front group gave a season-best second for long-time leader Brad Binder, whose Red Bull KTM has until this race been struggling; and an unexpected third for Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex).
Marquez looked set for a fourth straight win after playing his tactics right in a front gang that until lap 19 comprised six riders in just half a second, with more up close. Then he was skittled by early points leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) with two laps to go.
Earlier, Marquez’s team-mate Xavi Vierge’s hopes of a top finish were also ended with slight but devastating contact with Fernandez, also in the slow early corners. He fell, and brought down top rookie Enea Bastianini too (Italtrans Kalex).
Before that double crash, the front runners had been kept close by Binder, who simply refused to surrender the lead in spite of several attacks by different riders. Only when the assault came from Marquez with six laps to go did he succumb, and ha had dropped to fourth before the Marquez-Baldassari crash.
“The race was really good. I tried to stay in the groove and stay in the top and see the possibilities. I’m sorry for my team-mate Baldassarri, but happy for me,” said the 21-year-old.
After heroic resistance, Binder was hugely relieved by the long-awaited progress from KTM and the podium reward. “I was happy for the first 15 laps, but after that I really struggled. But I managed to stick there; massive thanks to KTM,” he said.
But the race brought heartbreak for first-time pole qualifier Remy Gardner (XOXONE Kalex). He dropped out of the lead group after missing a gear before half distance, then was one of several to crash at the chicane trying to regain ground.
Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) was still close in fourth, lucky to avoid crashing after hitting Vierge’s sliding bike, and taking the benefit of the lead in the championship.
Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX Kalex) was a career-best fifth, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Kalex), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta). Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex). Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM) completing the top ten.
Luthi is on top of the title table on 117, then Marquez 111, Fernandez up to 92, Navarro (another chicane crash victim) 89 and Baldassarri 88.
Moto3 Race – 22 laps, 99.924 km
Italian Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) became the first two-time Moto2 winner in 2019, with a forceful final-lap overtake on frequent leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) in a blazing hot first race of the day.
Both benefited from a controversial penalty to Jakub Kornfeil (Redox KTM), who had led from the 18th to the 20th lap of the 22-lap race … only to be given a “long-lap” penalty for having cut the chicane. He had gained no advantage by that move, and didn’t lose too much either after stretching his lead over three all-out laps, then rejoining in third.
He held off the remains of a huge leading brawl that had been broken up by a hatful of incidents, with Kaito Toba, Tatsuki Suzuki, Raul Fernandez and Celestino Vietti falling together, and (briefly) leader Darryn Binder (CIP KTM) by himself, among several other crashes. Jaume Masua (Besters KTM) was another front-pack loser, with a mechanical failure.
Gaqbriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Honda) squeezed into fourth, ahead of John McPhee (Petronas Honda), Ai Ogura (Team Asia Honda), Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Honda), pole starter Niccolo Antonelli(Snipers Honda), Dennis Foggia (SKY VR46 KTM) and Alonso Lopez (EG Honda) tenth.
Third to 14th crossed the line in just over two seconds seconds. Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) was in the pack in 12th, but retained his points lead on 107, from the threatening Dalla Porta (100); then Antonelli 83, Arbolino 76 and Vietti 68.
Blazing heat was matched by a red-hot qualifying session and a best lap time repeatedly smashed. It ended up as a Yamaha party, and a second successive pole position for fabulous Fabio Quartararo, the Petronas Yamaha rookie’s third in his first MotoGP season.
Danilo Petrucci had been the first to smash Valentino Rossi’s 2015 record in the morning, but it continued to take a battering in that free practice, then twice more in Q2. By the end, Quartararo took more than half a second off it, narrowly winning the fight he’d been having all weekend with factory Monster Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales.
“This track is one of the most mythic on the calendar, so to be on pole with a new record … I am really proud,” said a calm-look Quartararo.
Vinales was also glowing, after putting early-season troubles behind him. “I think we’ve been on a good level all weekend. I think it will be a tough race, and I want to push from the beginning.”
Rins was another to predict a tough race, having finished second in last year’s record close battle. “We have an incredible rhythm, but the Yamaha’s are so strong. We will need to do an intelligent race.”
But while some Yamahas were looking good all weekend, and second satellite-team rider Franco Morbidelli was on row three, the weekend so far went sour on Rossi, who claimed his last race win here in 2017.
Troubled in a search for the right settings, he thought he’d done enough to get straight into Q2 … only for his single fast lap time to be cancelled for exceeding track limits, running over the edge of the kerb at the final chicane.
Nor could he find the rhythm in Q1, ending up close but only fourth, while Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) took the coveted top two places.
Rins was the first to break the record in Q2, and stayed in third, his first front row since Moto2, three years ago. The top three were covered by four tenths; and it meant that Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda will be off the front row for the first time this year.
The title leader had another epic save during his first run, and heads row two from another impressive rookie, Joan Mir (Ecstar Suzuki) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) leads the third from second LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagama and Morbidelli.
Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was dropped to tenth in the final gallops, one place ahead of troubled factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, with Pol Espargaro 12th.
The top 12 times were covered by less than 1.7 seconds.
Even hotter conditions in the final qualifying, for Moto2, helped ensure the old record remained intact. But nothing could stop free practice leader Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) from claiming a career-first pole position, heading close times with the top 16 all inside one second.
“I was sort of expecting pole after being fastest this morning, but it was a lot more difficult this afternoon in the conditions,” he said, adding: “It’s really cool.” Australian Gardner races with the number 87, a tribute to his father Wayne’s 1987 500cc World Championship win.
He displaced a surprise candidate for pole: South African Brad Binder, on a clearly more competitive Red Bull KTM. He qualified 20th two weeks ago. “We’re making steps in the right direction, finally. There’s a few more things to work on, but if we get it right we could have a good race,” the ex-Moto3 champions said.
Xavi Verge (EG-VDS Kalex) was third, his first front row since Argentina; with team-mate Alex Marquez less than a tenth down in fourth. Marquez leads the championship after winning the last three races.
Briton Sam Lowes (Federal Oils Kalex) and Beta Speed Up rookie Fabio di Giannantonio are alongside on row two, with the latter’s senior team-mate Jorge Navarro leading the third from Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) and rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex). Then second Italtrans rider Andrea Locatelli heads Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) and Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex).
American KTM rider Joe Roberts placed 28th.
The closing lap of Moto3 was a super-close replay (and probably preview) of the volatile nature of the smallest class, with 14 riders with a second, and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Honda) snitching his second pole of the season at the last gasp.
He heads a Honda top four, and displaced Honda Team Asia’s Kaito Toba by better than a tenth, after the Japanese rider and Qatar winner had set a new record that had earlier looked invincible.
A third 2019 race-winner Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) failed to displace Toba by one hundredth of a second, with the two Italians pushing Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) to head the second row.
SKY VR46 star rookie Celestino Vietti KTM) was fifth; with second Honda Team Asia rider Ai Ogura completing row two. FP2 leader Jakub Kornfeil (Redox KTM) has Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) alongside, through from Q1; with points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) next.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini) rounded out the top ten.
Jorge Lorenzo will definitely miss next weekend’s German GP, but the Repsol Honda team hope he will be fit enough to rejoin the GP circus at the Czech Republic round, after the summer break on August 4.
So said HRC team chief Alberto Puig, as he confirmed details of the injury, also hinting that the Friday Assen crash had aggravated existing injuries sustained in a heavy crash at the post-Catalunya GP tests after the race there a fortnight ago.
“He crashed also in Barcelona, and there he had pain in the same area as in the Assen crash,” he said.
After a spinal fracture was diagnosed in the Netherlands, Lorenzo returned to Spain for further investigation. The fracture to the T6 thoracic vertebra was confirmed, as well as a microscopic fracture to T8. But there was no damage to the nervous system, and recovery should be straightforward.
“He will have to wear a body brace for three or four weeks – we hope he will be back in Brno,” said Puig. Asked for details about the crash, he said he had not fully examined the data, but that “normally a crash is through human error. I think he went into the corner a bit faster, or maybe at a different angle.”
Mick Doohan in Assen for Honda Celebration
Five-times 500-class champion Mick Doohan, at the track to help Honda celebrate six decades since entering GP racing, gave some insightful comments to Dorna TV interviewer Simon Crafar about his fellow-Australian riders, and 2019 sensation Fabio Quartararo.
Crafar, who campaigned in GPs at the same time as Doohan, and once beat him back to second at the British GP, collared the multi-champion in pit lane.
Doohan first spoke about current rising MotoGP star Jack Miller.
“Jack is right there; now he just needs to contain it a little bit. I think next year he’ll be really strong – but let’s not write off this year.”
On Remy Gardner, who would later claim a first Moto2 pole: “The Gardner name is synonymous with motorcycle racing in Australia. This year has been a marked improvement. I’m sure a race win is not far away.”
And Quartararo: “He doesn’t know what the bike will do. He’s just riding the wheels off it. We’ve all been there, but he’s doing it better than we did.”
Doohan won five consecutive titles for Honda between 1995 and 1999, but will do a parade lap before the Dutch TT on an earlier version of the NSR500: the bike ridden to the 1989 title by Eddie Lawson, 30 years after Honda’s 1959 debut.
Daddy Gardner Happy for Remy
Remy Gardner’s first pole position was promptly hailed by his absent father Wayne. “He was on the phone when I got back to my pit, so that was great,” the jubilant 21-year-old said.
Remy had been fastest in free practice, but found the going tougher in the heat of the afternoon qualifying session.
“This morning was awesome – half a second ahead. I knew then I could be on the front row. I was sort of expecting pole, but I didn’t want to say I’d get it.
It was a lot more difficult in the afternoon. When I went out the bike was sliding around a lot and it was difficult to make a good lap time.
“I came into the pits and said: fire in a new rear tyre, and the the bike was like in the morning.
“I nearly got pole at Silverstone last year, so this is really cool.
“I’m finally getting over my collarbone injury, and I’m able to train, so I’m back in shape.”
1987 500 champion Wayne has shepherded Remy to his present position, but does not attend every race.
New swingarm for Oliveira
KTM progress in MotoGP took another small step, with satellite rider Miguel Oliveira supplied with the carbon-fibre swing-arm that official Red Bull riders Pol Espargaro and the troubled Johann Zarco have been using for the past few races.
It contributed, said team boss Herve Poncharal, to performance in free practice that put the Portuguese rookie between the factory riders, albeit at the bottom end of the top 20.
As well as reducing unspring weight, “it helps the tyre to be quite a bit cooler,” said Poncharal. The carbon unit is understood to pay dividends later in the race.
But Assen was still something of a struggle, with Zarco crashing again, ending up qualified 18th to Oliveira’s 17th; although spirits were lifted when Espargaro made it through from Q1 to Q2. However the Spaniard is suffering from injuries in a heavy crash in testing at Catalunya, which ruled him out of a second day of private tests, and his endurance for the race is open to question.
Then Oliveira was dropped three grid positions for obstructing another rider in Q1.
The Austrian company’s progress in Moto2 was at last more encouraging, although the promised second new chassis is not expected until after the summer break. Riders switched back to the first chatter-prone chassis after the replacement at Le Mans proved to have exchanged chatter for poor rear grip, but tests after Catalunya appear to have improved the situation. Brad Binder topped free practice on Friday, and was on top in qualifying until Remy Gardner snitched pole in the closing stages.
The former Moto3 champion was still beaming. “It’s awesome to be back on the front row [the first time this year]… I was 20th at the last race. We’re making steps in the right direction, finally. We have a few things to work on for tomorrow, but if we get it right we can have a good race.”
In spite of his problems, Binder has had three top-six finishes, with a best of fourth at Le Mans, but after three wins and three podiums last year, more had been expected.
Track surface issues at Assen
Assen’s status as the cathedral of motorcycle racing, already threatened by the replacement of half the fast and rhythmic lap with slow corners in 2006, has been further eroded since the classic track was opened to car racing.
Use for testing and for rounds of the German touring car championship, among others, has engendered bad bumps, much worse this year than last. Many riders complained of the deterioration, especially at turn six, a very fast kink on the revised old section.
Michelin chief Piero Taramasso said this was one reason why he expected more riders to choose the softer tyres tomorrow. While they might be more prone to movement later in the race, they would go the distance, and “they absorb the bumps better”.
The track is however to be resurfaced next year.
The satellite Petronas Yamahas are performing well, but perhaps the bumps contributed to a tendency for them to fall to bits in free practice.
The first to suffer was Franco Morbidelli, with a panel flying off his rear seat cover. It was caught on by the rear-facing on-bike camera, whose wiring was exposed, along with a package of electronics.
Shortly afterwards, one of Fabio Quartararo’s fastest laps was interrupted, also on a high-speed section (the notoriously difficult flat-out exit from Hoge Heide), when the plastic radiator overflow bottle flew out under his right handlebar, and flapped around on the end of its feed pipe.
Thankfully, everything was done up tight enough to stay on board thereafter.
Yamahas took the early high ground at Assen, with rising star Fabio Quartararo fastest in the morning on the satellite Petronas Yamaha, and factory Monster Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales taking over in the weekend.
Assen MotoGP Results 2019
The French class rookie, on pole and second overall a fortnight ago in Catalunya, gestured angrily after he narrowly failed to beat the more experienced Spaniard’s time in the second, faster free practice session, falling less than two tenths short of Vinales’s 1m 32.638 best lap, which was just one hundredth down on the circuit’s best-ever lap.
With good conditions forecast for tomorrow as well as Europe basks in record temperatures, the important top ten to go straight into Q2 will probably be decided then. All the same, most riders went for a precautionary time attack this afternoon.
The exception was Marc Marquez, and the Repsol Honda rider’s confidence was rewarded with seventh-fastest time … good enough should tomorrow morning turn out too cool for improvement.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) came back from a heavy early crash to post third-fastest time, with factory team-mate Andrea Dovizioso fourth-fastest. Then a threatening Alex Rins, whose Ecstar Suzuki works well at the track, which combines a very slow section with a remnant of the sinuous curves that reward good handling more than sheer horsepower.
Andrea Iannone was a surprise sixth, by far his best showing yet on his Aprilia; while team-meat Aleix Espargaro was a distant 19th, still in pain from injuries in the Catalunya round, and suffering a crash of his own today.
Second Suzuki rider Joan Mir was eighth; Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) up to ninth, after a slow start in the morning with machine trouble. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) scraped into tenth, ahead of Pecco Bagnaia’s Pramac Ducati and an again on-form Karel Abraham (Avintia Ducati).
Former Assen winner Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was 13th, 1.2 seconds down on Vinales: then Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) completed the top 15.
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) was out of action, ruled unfit after a heavy crash in the morning (see separate News story).
With 20 inside the same second, Moto2 times were again very close. But surprise leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), whose blinding lap at the close of play shot him from 18th to first, was still short of the track best time.
That, set in 2015 by Johann Zarco with 600 Honda power, was a full second quicker than Binder’s 1m 37.398.
Binder was by far the best KTM, with the Austrian chassis still struggling with the adaptation to 765cc Triumph triple engines. The next best was his team-mate, rookie Jorge Martin, placed tenth.
Binder had displaced Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) from his first provisional pole by less than 0.15 of a second; with two more Kalexes close behind … Sam Lowes (Federal Oil) and Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt).
In fifth, title challenger Jorge Navarro’s Beta Tools Speed Up was narrowly ahead of another title challenger, Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex); with new points leader Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) ninth, behind the Kalexes of Luca Marini and early championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri.
American Joe Roberts (KTM) was 25th.
Moto3 times were even closer, with 22 within a second of late-coming FP leader Jakub Kornfeil’s Redox KTM.
He was ahead of a quartet of Honda riders: with Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Honda) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Honda) crowding in ahead of Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM) and Darryn Binder (CIP KTM).
The Hondas of Kaito Toba, Ai Ogura and Marcos Ramirez completed the top ten; points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) was 22nd.
Crash Takes Lorenzo Out of Assen
Jorge Lorenzo’s difficult start to his first year on the factory Repsol Honda got a good deal worse at Assen, after he suffered a suspected fractured bone in his spine in a heavy crash in the first free practice session.
Lorenzo was getting up to speed but still down in 18th place when he fell at high speed, tumbling end over end in the gravel. He walked away, but only to be put into an ambulance and eventually to hospital, where a fracture in his thoracic T6 vertebra was diagnosed.
Obviously ruled out of the race and almost certainly next weekend’s German GP, he was expected to fly home to Barcelona for further tests and treatment.
After starting the year by missing the first test after breaking a bone in his left wrist in a training fall, the triple MotoGP champion has struggled in the early races as team-mate to rampant championship leader Marc Marquez.
A fortnight ago in Catalunya, after a visit to HRC headquarters in Japan, further changes to the bike seemed to have been a step forward. He qualified 10th and made a blinding start, only to crash on the second lap, narrowly missing leader Marquez, but taking down Dovizioso’s Ducati and both factory Yamaha riders Rossi and Vinales.
Lorenzo’s Assen record includes race wins in 125, 250 and MotoGP, and a heroic feat in 2013, when he broke his collarbone on the first day of practice, flew home for surgical repair, then returned to race to fifth place.
His was one of several crashes on the first day, with Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci lucky to escape unscathed from a sixth-gear tumble. Aleix Espargaro and Takaaki Nakagami also fell in the premier class, while Moto2’s FP1 was red flagged after Indonesian rider Dimas Ekky Pratama crashed without yet having set a time. He was briefly unconscious, but not seriously injured; while Race Direction was examining footage to determine whether MV rider Stefano Manzi was culpable in the incident.
Changes to Lorenzo’s Honda
Lorenzo had a raft of changes to his bike, as HRC strive to make the bike built for Marquez’s aggressive style suit the much smoother older rider.
As at Ducati for the past two years, Jorge had requested different ergonomics, among other things – and the Assen bike had a revised version of the “wings” on the dummy tank cover, for him to hook his knees under during braking and cornering.
Lorenzo’s (but not Marquez’s) bike also had new aero bodywork, with a larger and slightly more complicated version of the bow-tie top winglets; while he also had one bike with the carbon-wrapped frame tested but not used by Marquez earlier this year.
60 Years of GP Racing for Honda
Honda were celebrating 60 years since entering GP racing in 1959 at Assen, with a somewhat formal press briefing on the first day of practice, where they showed three key motorcycles along with four key riders.
Present on the podium, along with HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata, were Kunimitsu Takahashi, the first Japanese GP winner (West Germany, 250, 1961); Freddie Spencer, Honda’s first 500 champion; five-times champion Mick Doohan; and late-coming Marc Marquez.
They posed alongside a replica 125cc RC142, which Honda had made for their first GP, the 1959 Isle of Man 125cc TT; a multi-victorious V4 NSR500; and a current RC213V. Rather puzzlingly, the NSR bore the name “Eddie”, for the absent Eddie Lawson, who won three of his titles on a Yamaha before a fourth on the Honda.
Honda has not raced for 60 continuous years, after withdrawing after the end of 1967, returning in 1979 with the NR500 four-stroke. Yamaha has a longer continuous history, but Honda has more race wins, at 778 (and counting) against 502.
Throwback Livery for Honda Team Asia
In another tribute, the Honda Team Asia used special livery for their Moto3 bikes, in silver with a yellow flash, replicating the Honda factory colours of the 1950s.
Miller’s solution to Marquez’s speed
Jack Miller raised a laugh at the typically grisly pre-race press conference – where riders like to promise to try their hardest and to get the best possible result. A Dorna promotion had Dutch schoolchildren asking the riders sundry questions. One of the more sensible was what rules the riders would like to change.
Miller was quick to respond. “I’d like to cut one of Marc’s legs off.”
FIM hands out penalties
he FIM Stewards imposed a back-of-the-grid penalty on Stefano Manzi for “riding in an irresponsible manner”, causing the crash.
Also penalised, Moto3 rider Alonso Lopez, who was cruising on the racing line, causing Aron Canet to crash.
Click here for all of the latest MotoGP news.
Click here for all of the latest Road Racing news.