2018 Assen MotoGP Friday Round Up: Spectacular Saves, Hard Tires, And New Parts For Ducati And Suzuki

Another Friday, another save that would have seen any other rider rolling through the gravel. And at Assen, with its collection of terrifyingly fast corners, rolling through the gravel often ends up rolling into the back of an ambulance, and X-rays, cat scans, and metal plates holding your bones together. But Friday wouldn't be Friday without Marc Márquez folding the front completely, jabbing his elbow into the tarmac, and hanging on long enough for the front to catch again and stay upright, or what passes for upright if your name is Marc Márquez.

This time it happened at the Ruskenhoek, the very fast left hander after the Veenslang back straight, where the bikes flick right, then long left, and then right again for the short run towards Stekkenwal. Márquez was traveling at something approaching 200km/h when the front went, but he caught it, stayed on board, and ended up running just off track and clipping the gravel. "I didn’t expect it, and I didn’t want to have a 'safe' crash in fourth gear at a very high-speed corner," Márquez explained.

Holding your line is difficult because of the track changes direction at very high speed, so being precise is of the utmost importance, Márquez said. "Here at Assen, the speed is so high and to take the correct lines is difficult but we were already in FP2, but in the first run it is always difficult to understand the lines and to be precise. A small mistake is a big mistake here: you cannot adjust with the brakes or the gas and you need to keep the speed during all the lap."

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2018 Assen Moto2 FP2 Result: Bagnaia and Mir One Step Ahead

The final session of the day in Assen ran in excellent conditions, which meant that riders were quick to improve their times from FP1, Pecco Bagnaia once again being the fastest man on track. Joan Mir caught up to trail the Italian by only one tenth of a second, sandwiched between the two Sky riders, Luca Marini having a bit off a wild ride into third position.

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2018 Assen MotoGP FP2 Result: Fast Viñales, Frightening Marquez

In baking hot Assen, Marc Marquez needed only three laps to improve on his own best time of the weekend and get a second ahead of the field, in a familiar display. It all changed when the final time attack arrived with eight minutes left of the session and the first to make a significant move in the shootout was Maverick Viñales, the Yamaha man grabbing the lead in the final three minutes, when a handful of riders dropped to 1:33s on soft rubber.

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2018 Assen Moto3 FP2 Result: Canet Leads As Martin Crashes Out

Despite the hotter surface with a nice spread of rubber following the first set of practice sessions of the day, the lightweight class took their time to pick up some more speed. Regardless, Marco Bezzecchi was in a hurry to post his first 1:42 time of the weekend, which secured him the lead throughout the session but did not quite improve on the FP1 benchmark. The only man who achieved that feat was Aron Canet, the Estrella Galicia rider leading by over a tenth of a second by the time the checker flag marked the end of the session.

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2018 Assen Moto2 FP1 Result: Bagnaia Back On Familiar Ground

With the Dutch TT course shining under resplendent sunshine, Pecco Bagnaia was out on a mission to stop Miguel Oliveira’s rampant charge of late and what better way to do that than grab the top of the timesheets and not let go? The Italian clearly seemed to agree and ended up leading the session by two tenths of a second from compatriot Andrea Locatelli. The Italtrans rider was one of a few who kept a low profile before popping up at the sharp end when it mattered.

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2018 Assen MotoGP FP1 Result: A Marquez Kind Of Morning

If Assen wasn’t warm enough already, the premier class turned up the heat the second they hit the track by knocking on the doors of 1:34 straight away. Marquez did not need long to retrieve his favourite place on the timesheets on his second outing and then continued to move the goalposts throughout the session, while also having a good look at his factory Yamaha pals. 

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2018 Assen Moto3 FP1 Result: The Usual Morning Routine For Martin

The weekend in Assen started with the promise of uncharacteristically clear skies and the lightweight class’ first outing was no exception. Although the temperatures were still somewhat on the low side, riders kept the track busy in search of the weekend’s first honours, which predictably went to Jorge Martin, the Spaniard the only one to dip into the 1:42s, four tenths faster than the opposition.

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2018 Assen MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Waiting For Pedrosa/Petronas, The Crew Chief Shuffle, And Silly Season Remedies

Another weekend, another racetrack, but exactly the same story. We all gathered once again to hear what Dani Pedrosa had to say about his future, and once again, Pedrosa had nothing to say. "I know there are a lot of people waiting and wanting to know some information, but unfortunately not yet," Pedrosa told the pre-event press conference. "I can't give any different news from what I already in Barcelona. I expect to, but still things are going slow, so we don't know at this moment exactly. Sooner or later I will have something to say!"

Once bitten, twice shy, the media were a little more prepared this Thursday. Dorna had put Dani Pedrosa into the press conference, a little safer situation than the masses crowded into the HRC hospitality at Barcelona. We were acting on a little more information as well: journalists have been talking to a range of sources since Barcelona, and so there is a much better sense of where we stand on the Petronas-Yamaha story, as I explained on Tuesday. There was some hope Pedrosa might announce something, but a realistic expectation he would not. So the disappointment when the Repsol Honda rider told there was still no news on his future was much more limited at Assen than it had been at Montmeló.

Where do we stand? Sepang International Circuit boss Razlan Razali is at Assen this weekend, but unavailable for reporters, as he is in wall-to-wall meetings finalizing various details. That suggests that the deal is basically done, and he is now going through the laborious business of tying up loose ends. There is a lot of work to be done to get a MotoGP team off the ground from scratch.

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2018 Assen MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Press releases from Michelin and some of the MotoGP teams looking ahead to the Dutch TT at Assen:


Repsol Honda Team head to Assen, the “Cathedral” of bike racing

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez arrives in Assen for the eighth round of the MotoGP Championship leading the standings by 27 points and resolved to best manage whatever situations the weekend may throw at him, with an eye on the title fight.

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2018 Assen Moto2 & Moto3 Preview Press Releases

Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams previewing this weekend's races at Assen:


Marquez and Mir focus on podium charge in Assen

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Alex Marquez and Joan Mir are aiming high heading to the historic TT Assen Circuit in Holland.

Alex Marquez is optimistic he can bolster his impressive title challenge this weekend when the Moto2 field tackle the famed TT Circuit Assen in round eight of the 2018 World Championship.

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