Assen, The Netherlands
Is there still such a thing as a Honda track, a Yamaha track, or a Ducati track (or even a Suzuki track)? Once upon a time, it seemed like there was. MotoGP would go to Indianapolis, and you knew that a Honda would win. Go to Mugello, and chances are, a Yamaha would emerge victorious.
In the press room, we would spend hours trying to decipher why one bike or another would win at a particular track. Was it temperature which counted? We suspected that, but then a Yamaha or a Honda would win at a cold track one week, and a hot track the next. Was it the layout or the type of corner that mattered? Hondas dominated the stop-and-go layout of Motegi, and then got destroyed by the Yamahas at the stop-and-go layout of Le Mans. In the end, we figured it all came down to grip: in low grip conditions, the Hondas were quick; when there was plenty of grip, the Yamahas were unbeatable.
That disappeared in recent years, killed by the technical developments which led up to the switch to Michelin tires. 1000cc engines, spec electronics, and the regulations which have seen the bikes grow ever closer in performance. With the differences between the machines so small, other factors had a greater impact on results than just the character of the bike. No longer can you predict a winner based on which bike they are on.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Assen:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Assen:
The MotoGP class went out to enjoy some sunshine but mostly to see what Michelin thinks about all the sunshine hitting the track. All the various tyre combinations got some airtime, as riders compared their options, but one man who looked good in whatever shoes he wore was Fabio Quartararo. Petronas’ rookie was the only rider to drop into the 1:32s in the final practice session and scored Yamaha the full 4 out of 4 in practice sessions this weekend.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Assen:
The intermediate class enjoyed lovely warm weather for their final practice outing of the race weekend but the replays from the gravel trap did not reduce too much. Not a problem that Remy Gardner had, the Australian posting the first and only 1:36 time of the weekend, which put him half a second ahead of the field and guaranteed a Q2 spot early on. Augusto Fernandez was the closest challenger but perhaps the biggest surprise came from Jorge Martin, the KTM rider making an impression in third position.
With the surface heating up nicely in Assen, premier class riders started with the dress rehearsal for Sunday before the battle for front row tickets to Q2. The final five minutes lighted up the timing screens and after Danilo Petrucci beat the lap record, it was Fabio Quartararo who got to keep it in the end. The Frenchman went under the radar as all eyes were on the drama lower down the timesheets but his hot lap as well as his race pace deserved an appreciative glance.