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MotoGP Assen Recap: Doctor In Session, Zarco Proves Class, Oliveira Superb

The return to form of Marc Marquez brought the very best out of Valentino Rossi, Johann Zarco won the hard way and Miguel Oliveira picked his spot in three brilliant races in the Cathedral of speed.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

The last time the Dutch TT would be run on a Saturday, as another part of history disappears to reverting to normality - the race will be run on a Sunday next year. Nevertheless, the Cathedral is still the best circuit on the calendar. The dark clouds hanging over the circuit looked like breaking too - and Assen in the rain is a sight to behold.


Enea Bastianini took pole on Friday, his lap being 3/10s faster than Jorge Navarro in second, who had shown good pace throughout the session. Karel Hanika's strongest qualifying of the year saw him starting from third, with championship leader Danny Kent starting fourth. Row three included Fabio Quartararo, Romano Fenati and Efren Vasquez - a daunting sight if anyone was to look behind them - while Maria Herrera's strong season continued with a 13th place start.

Bastianini started well, but Navarro was up with him, yet both lost out to Miguel Oliveira to take the lead. Kent maintained fourth, leaving the others to fight in front - Navarro going under Bastianini at the penultimate turn on lap one, with Kent then passing the pole sitter early on lap two. Quartararo went past all of them, though, moving up to second as Oliveira opened up a marginal gap at the front. Vasquez dropped out on lap three, continuing an awful run of bad luck for him.

Quartararo took the lead soon afterwards, but then instantly dropped back down to fourth, the prior front three all jumping past him. Kent managed to go up the inside of Bastianini to second at turn one of lap five, as Herrera was as high as tenth. Brad Binder caught the leading pack, moving up to sixth as Quartararo continued to fall back. John McPhee was showing good pace in eighth.

Fenati joined the party on the last chicane, making up three places to take the lead, with Bastianini following him into second. Zulfahmi Khairuddin fell at the same time as Bastianini hit the front, although the front three were all taking chunks out of each other. Kent was keeping close quarters in fourth, making the most of a little run wide by Bastianini to take second, then breezing past Fenati to take the lead. He couldn't take advantage though, with Bastianini and Oliveira getting past him. It was another tactical Moto3 battle, and it was great to watch.

Isaac Viñales was pushed off by Francesco Bagnaia, who in turn was pushed by his team mate Juanfran Guevera, but managed to stay on. After falling down the field, Herrera managed to get back up to ninth, but then was pushed off by Niccolo Antonelli, ruining what was a good race. The chasing group were all literally taking chunks out of each other, bouncing and colliding - it made the boys at the front look positively civil.

With nine laps left, Fenati lead Oliveira, with Kent looking dangerous in third. Quartararo and Binder looked to be dropping away from the others, but with the others overtaking each other they were still potentially involved. Kent managed to take the lead, but some incredible riding from Oliveira, then Quartararo, cut his momentum and he fell to the back of the group. The seven were all making moves on each other all the way round, all the while Kent staying interested while never hitting the front.

Oliveira took the lead for the last lap, Quartararo and Navarro followed him, with the Frenchman taking over half way round. Kent moved up to fourth, then third and second. Oliveira managed to sneak back up, and lead through the chicane for the win. Quartararo finished second, with Kent ahead of Navarro and Fenati in third. Bastianini ended up sixth, while the chasing pack ended dramatically with Niklas Ajo coming out of the saddle, but riding the bike like a sidecar to get over the line to finish 17th. Karel Hanika's good qualifying performance only resulted in eighth, with John McPhee finishing tenth.

Moto3 Classification
# Rider Team Time Pts
1 Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM 37:54.427 25
2 Fabio Quartararo Estrella Galicia +0.066 20
3 Danny Kent Leopard Honda +0.117 16
4 Jorge Navarro Estrella Galicia +0.179 13
5 Romano Fenati Sky VR46 KTM +0.252 11
6 Enea Bastianini Honda Gresini +0.526 10
7 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM +0.540 9
8 Karel Hanika Red Bull KTM +21.406 8
9 Niccolo Antonelli Ongetta-Rivacold +21.472 7
10 John McPhee RTG Saxoprint +21.663 6
11 Francesco Bagnaia Mapfre Mahindra +21.693 5
12 Andrea Migno Sky VR46 KTM +21.723 4
13 Livio Loi RW Racing +22.024 3
14 Hiroki Ono Leopard Racing +22.204 2
15 Philipp Oettl Schedl GP +22.596 1

Kent extends his lead in the championship by six points, now sitting 57 points ahead of Bastianini. Oliveira closes the gap to Bastianini in third, while Fenati leapfrogs Vasquez into fourth. Quartararo's return to the podium puts him in sixth, two points behind Vasquez.

Moto3 Championship Top 5
# Rider Team Pts +
1 Danny Kent Leopard Honda 165 16
2 Enea Bastianini Gresini Honda 108 10
3 Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM 102 25
4 Romano Fenati Sky VR46 KTM 86 11
5 Efren Vasquez Leopard Honda 76 0


Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat had a good battle for pole, with the championship leader Zarco eventually claiming top spot for himself. Rabat started second ahead of Sam Lowes, who was quick but couldn't quite put four storming sectors together. Jonas Folger continued his return to form by starting fifth, while Dominique Aegerter could only qualify 16th. Dutchman Jasper Iwema, a former 125cc and Moto3 rider entering as a wildcard, started from the back of the grid.

Rabat got a great start away to take the lead, with Folger following him through to second. Zarco fell to third, while Lowes dropped as low as sixth. Luis Salom fell early, with his HP40 bike catching fire after climbing over the bike of Anthony West. Zarco returned to second, with Corsi in fourth. The race was red flagged before the end of the first lap, though, as Salom's bike had blown up and left oil on turn one.

In Moto2 and Moto3, when a race is red flagged this early, race distance is shortened by a third - 16 laps, in this case - and the race begins again as they were on the grid.

Okay, try again. Folger made an even better start, taking the lead and flying away. Rabat stayed second, with Xavier Simeon briefly in third before Zarco claimed a position back. Lowes was equally swamped in the second start, falling down to sixth again. Florian Alt fell early, while Thomas Luthi looked interested in sixth. Folger's lead was almost 0.9 seconds by the end of the first lap. Alex Rins maintained seventh, with a gap behind him to Simone Corsi in eighth.

Folger was clear, well clear. Zarco and Rabat started to trip each other up for second, and Lowes began to have a look at Simeon for fourth. A lap later, Rabat gave Zarco a bit of a bump, allowing Simeon to take third from the championship leader, a position Zarco reclaimed later in the lap. Rabat, meanwhile, closed the gap fairly quickly, getting very close to the back of Folger, as Lowes took fourth from Simeon.

Rabat took the lead soon after, pacing away from Folger, who instantly had Zarco on his tail. Zarco towed Lowes with him. Zarco moved to second, and started to close up on Rabat. Lowes went past the early leader too, as Louis Rossi crashed out. Alex Rins moved to fifth as Lorenzo Baldassari and West crashed at turn one. Rins then went past Folger into fourth, as Zarco barged into the lead with three laps to go. Lowes looked comfortable in third, with Rins not looking quick enough to catch him.

At the line, Zarco won comfortably, with Rabat behind him. Lowes saw Rins off easily, with Luthi fifth. Folger ended up in seventh, with Mika Kallio quiet in eighth. Hafizh Syahrin picked up the last point in 15th.

Moto2 Classification
# Rider Team Time Pts
1 Johann Zarco Ajo 39:40.545 25
2 Tito Rabat Estrella Galicia Marc VDS +0.308 20
3 Sam Lowes Speed Up +5.280 16
4 Alex Rins Paginas Amarillas HP40 +5.554 13
5 Thomas Luthi Derendinger +7.493 11
6 Xavier Simeon Federal Oil Gresini +7.896 10
7 Jonas Folger AGR +10.495 9
8 Mika Kallio Italtrans +17.380 8
9 Alex Marquez Estrella Galicia Marc VDS +17.775 7
10 Simone Corsi Athina Forward +18.836 6
11 Julian Simon QMMF +20.698 5
12 Dominique Aegerter Technomag +20.923 4
13 Takaaki  Nakagami IDEMITSU +22.433 3
14 Randy Krummenacher JIR Racing +22.762 2
15 Hafizh Syahrin Petronas Raceline +27.715 1

Zarco's win - the first Frenchman to score back to back wins in the intermediate class - extends his lead at the top to 45 points, with the top five positions remaining unchanged. Lowes could still get involved with the title challenge, but realistically he looks like he needs snookers.

Moto2 Championship Top 5
# Rider Team Pts +
1 Johann Zarco Ajo 159 25
2 Tito Rabat Estrella Galicia Marc VDS 114 20
3 Sam Lowes Speed Up 96 16
4 Thomas Luthi Derendinger 89 11
5 Alex Rins Paginas Amarillas HP40 87 13


There was quite a bit of excitement in qualifying. Marc Marquez set a blistering lap that looked like it wouldn't be better until Aleix Espargaro nipped ahead late in the session. Yet there was another twist, as Valentino Rossi claimed his first pole since Valencia last year. Pol Espargaro was the highest placed satellite bike in fifth, with the Andrea'd Ducatis sixth (Iannone) and tenth (Dovizioso). Jorge Lorenzo could only manage eighth, with the Pramac Ducati of Danilo Petrucci starting ahead of Bradley Smith in 11th and 12th.

Rossi got away well, keeping the lead just from Aleix, with Marquez slotting into third before taking second two corners later. Pol went past his brother for third, then Lorenzo went through for fourth, shortly followed by Iannone - leaving the Suzuki brother down in sixth. Lorenzo went through Pol for third as Jack Miller and Hector Barbera clashed and crashed out. Cal Crutchlow was seventh, in front of Smith, with Dovizioso ahead of Petrucci in ninth. Dani Pedrosa, after starting fourth, was swamped down in 12th, struggling with the left arm he had surgery on earlier in the year.

Aleix started to hold up the chasing field, with his brother and Crutchlow for close company. Dovizioso had split the Brits, but Smith was managing to keep hold of him. Meanwhile, Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo were keeping each other honest out front, Marquez closing the gap to the GOAT and Lorenzo not losing any time to them. Marquez looked the quickest though, his switch to the 2014 chassis paying dividents in the early stages. Stefan Bradl crashed on lap six at turn 11.

Dovizioso started to look a bit frustrated sitting behind the Espargaro brothers, but left too much space for Crutchlow to sneak under him. Lorenzo seemed resigned to third, even at an early stage, but had a comfortable gap to Iannone in fourth. Marquez was keeping Rossi very honest out front, with neither man making a mistake. Dovizioso moved past Pol to take sixth, while Iannone seemed to be being reeled in by Aleix at the front of the group.

Pedrosa finally made some in-roads, moving past Petrucci and Smith to move into ninth. Dovizioso went fifth, as Aleix fell down to tenth as Smith and Pedrosa went past. Pol sat sat seventh, with Crutchlow ahead in sixth. Scott Redding looked good in 13th, ahead of Yonny Hernandez and Loris Baz. Rossi started to open up a bit of a gap, certainly visually on the TV. Iannone had re-gaped the chasing group, sitting nicely in fourth. His team mate had his hands full with Crutchlow, the Brit keeping Dovi honest, eventually taking fifth. Crutchlow certainly wasn't riding like someone who'd spent the last two races in the gravel trap.

Eugene Laverty crashed out with ten laps to go, around the same time as Marquez's bike just started to twitch a little as he pushed to close the gap. Pol went past Dovizioso for sixth, with Smith on the tail of the Ducati as well. Pedrosa was also looking extremely interested in the battle. Marquez, meanwhile, made the move with seven laps left, taking the lead at turn one. Rossi wasn't done though, and kept with Marquez as close as possible. Pedrosa took seventh from Dovizioso. Off-camera, Crutchlow made an error, with Pol and Pedrosa dropping him to seventh.

With three laps to go, Rossi regained the lead, fending off a challenge from Marquez around the outside of turn 11. It forced an error from Marquez, running off-track through the chicane to give Rossi a gap of 0.2 seconds. Crutchlow reclaimed sixth, Aleix dropping behind Smith into eighth. The focus was all at the front though - Marquez seemed to have some pace left on the last lap.

Second-last corner, Marquez went up the inside, Rossi gave him no room, the two clashed - but both stayed up. Rossi took the win, his first from pole since 2009, with the Spaniard in second. Lorenzo was comfortably in third, with Iannone in fourth. Pol kept hold of fifth, with Crutchlow and Smith behind him, and Pedrosa in eighth. The two Suzukis finished ninth and tenth, Aleix ahead of Maverick Viñales, while Dovizioso ended up a lowly 12th.

MotoGP Classification
# Rider Team Time Pts
1 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha 40:54.037 25
2 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda +1.242 20
3 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha +14.576 16
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati +19.109 13
5 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha +24.268 11
6 Cal Crutchlow CWM LCR Honda +24.373 10
7 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha +24.442 9
8 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +24.656 8
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Ecstar +26.725 7
10 Maverick Viñales Suzuki Ecstar +27.238 6
11 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati +29.038 5
12 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +29.418 4
13 Scott Redding Estrella Galicia Marc VDS +46.663 3
14 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati +49.305 2
15 Loris Baz Athina Forward +52.396 1

The win gives Rossi a little bit of breathing room - he's now ten points clear of his team mate Lorenzo. Another fourth place for Iannone gives him a 17-point cushion in third, while Marquez leapfrogs Dovizioso into fourth - 74 points behind Rossi.

MotoGP Championship Top 5
# Rider Team Pts +
1 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha 163 25
2 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha 153 16
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati 107 13
4 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda 89 20
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 87 4

Ride Of The Day

The Moto3 featured some great overtakes, but nobody stood out. Zarco was again superb in Moto2, but had to recover from a poor start. The award today goes to the front two in MotoGP. Rossi and Marquez brought the best out of each other - Rossi knew when to pass, what to do, how to keep Marquez in check, and it's the best that Marquez has been all year - he rode a lot better today than he did in winning in Austin.

Next Time Out

Two weeks tomorrow, the championship goes around the Sachsenring in Germany. Another great circuit, and another one I can't wait for. Join us for full weekend coverage.