Assen, The Netherlands
Winglets are to be banned in all three MotoGP classes from 2017 onwards. At Assen, the Grand Prix Commission met and decided on an outright ban on aerodynamic wings, after the MSMA had failed to reach an agreement among all manufacturers on a joint proposal.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class at Assen:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at Assen:
Never a dull moment in Assen. Unless it’s a rainy session that is not wet enough for intermediate tyres and too risky for slicks. Having used the first ten minutes on rider close-ups, the bikes circled the track gingerly to assess the conditions for the rest of the session.
Dani Pedrosa set an early benchmark some twenty seconds off the best time from the morning, Danilo Petrucci taking over the top of the timesheets briefly, before Marc Marquez shaved nine tenths off the Italian’s time.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Assen:
Seeing the temperatures drop slightly after overnight rain, the intermediate class had trouble challenging FP2 times early on. A rain flag waved briefly just as Thomas Luthi blitzed the field by three quarters of a second. The rain at the top end of the circuit later disrupted the action, with riders spending significant time in the pits midway through the session.
The final minute of the session saw Johann Zarco take over top spot by a tenth, after taking in the scenery with a quick trip through the gravel early in his first run. Besides posting a very fast lap, he also displayed very consistent race pace, giving the French rider a great deal of confidence heading into the qualifying session.
The cooler overcast conditions have made it a challenge for riders to improve their times in the first half of the third practice session. As race settings were refined, dirt brushed off leathers and qualifying runs attempted, times started to drop, with another Andrea taking top honours, this time the Ducati of Dovizioso.
Halfway through the session, Marc Marquez locked the front massively, prompting his Honda to turn into a rodeo ride that magically stayed upright. Besides another save for the highlights reel, he also finished with a second position in the bag, only two hundreds of a second off the leader and dropping Maverick Viñales into third.
A rookie he may be, but Aron Canet showed once again that a new track is no reason to worry for him, going to the top of the table on his first flying lap, only needing three of those to rival his FP2 performance. It took a mock qualifying run in the final five minutes of the session to beat that time by a full second.
Niccolo Antonelli was there or thereabouts all session, finishing two tenths off the Spaniard. Pecco Bagnaia seemed to have lost his way overnight, spending most of FP3 outside the top twenty but recovered in the final minutes to make the jump to third, followed by fellow Italian Andrea Migno and an increasingly impressive Gabriel Rodrigo in fifth.
The disadvantage of reporting on your home race is that during the media debriefs, the period when riders speak to the press, they turn to you and ask, "So what's the weather going to do?" Living in The Netherlands, Assen is my home race, and so this weekend, it is me they are asking about the weather. There is only one honest answer I can give them. "This is Assen. Anything can happen."
The weather has been a constant topic of discussion. Weather apps and weather websites have been compared, and each of them says something different. Some say it will only rain heavily on Sunday. Others say Sunday will be dry, and the rain will fall on Saturday. Check another site, and it says rain overnight, but only heavy clouds during the day, with the risk of rain at a minimum. Which site to believe? This is Assen. Anything can happen.
There was a sense of nervousness in both FP1 and FP2 for the MotoGP class. Riders pushed late to chase a lap good enough to put them into the top ten, and automatic entry into Q2. Some, like Bradley Smith, got their strategy wrong, went out on a hard rear tire instead of a medium, and ended up languishing down the order. Others, like Dani Pedrosa, were just having a dismal time. "No improvement from FP1 to FP2, no improvement on different tires, and no feeling with the bike."