A final few minutes of dry track time saw a flurry of decisive laps, with the Ducati rider taking to the top.
Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia claimed early bragging rights at the Motul TT Assen, with the combined timesheets going down to the final couple of minutes of FP2 as the weather dried out. A 1:33.274 was the benchmark, and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) seemed to claim second before some drama for the Aprilia rider saw his last run cancelled for a technical infringement – running a rear water spoiler whilst on slicks – so the number 41 is classified dead last as Friday action comes to a close. That means Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) moves up to second quickest, ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller lived up to his reputation as a rain master with the fastest lap in FP1 at the Motul TT Assen. The man who achieved his first ever premier class race win when the heavens opened at the TT Circuit Assen in 2016 headed the timesheets from Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team).
Rain fell throughout the 45-minute session and it was ‘Thriller’ Miller who was quickest after the first runs on a 1:44.523 before the showers got heavier. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) was one of few to persevere through that particularly difficult middle segment of FP1 and gradually climbed to second on a 1:44.570.
However, when the weather began to improve in the final 10 minutes, those times were blown away and Miller clocked his fastest lap just before the chequered flag, as did Mir when he set a 1:42.698 to be just 0.109 seconds slower. Both Mir and Pol Espargaro had brief periods on top of the timing screen and the latter would finish third courtesy of a 1:42.891. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) made it two Hondas in the top four when he came through after the chequered flag on a 1:42.959, while Alex Espargaro was the last rider within half a second of Miller’s pace on a 1:43.030. There were two crashes: Bastianini and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), riders ok.
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. Zarco had just gone into the 1:39s, around halfway into the session, as fellow Ducati rider 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 Bezzecchi 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.
Bagnaia then 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, with Rins laying down a 1:33.611.
Provisional Q2 places
With news of Aleix Espargaro’s technical infringement – meaning the Aprilia rider loses all his laps set on slicks – it remains Bagnaia quickest but from Quartararo. Rins moves up into third.
Miller now takes fourth overall, ahead of Mir, as in FP1, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) for extremely close company in sixth. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Zarco, Bezzecchi and Bastianini now complete the top ten after Friday’s running, with FP3 offering the rest their final shot at a place in Q2… not least Aleix Espargaro.
Tune in for that on Saturday morning, before qualifying from 14:10 (GMT +2)!
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