2021 Assen MotoGP Race Result: Well This Is Awkward

It was show time in Assen and the rain was no longer the favourite topic of discussion, with blue skies covering the grid. After Maverick Viñales outshone the competition in qualifying and kept the media awake with whispers of a premature departure from Yamaha, he was always going to be the centre of attention, so it’s understandable that Fabio Quartararo wanted the spotlight back on him and made an early escape to score his fourth victory of the season. While the Frenchman was showcasing some truly questionable golf skills in celebration, his grumpy teammate made his way to parc fermé to take second place. A far happier Joan Mir claimed the final podium position, tasting the cava for only the third time this season.

Viñales seemed like he had made a good start from pole but Quartararo promptly cut in front of him to lead into turn 1 and the unsettled poleman drooped to fifth, behind Pecco Bagnaia, Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins, which ultimately squashed his hopes for victory. Bagnaia became Quartararo’s main rival and attacked into turn 9 to lead the way by the start of the second lap. A very notable mention goes to Marc Marquez, who was quick to put his worst qualifying position behind him and used the soft rear tyre to go from 20th on the grid to attacking his teammate for 11th position in one lap. He was soon promoted into the top ten by a turn 10 clash between Zarco and Rins, which dropped the Suzuki rider to the back of the field.

Bagnaia continued to lead the way from a pretty feisty Quartararo for the next few laps, while Nakagami and Viñales kept close to the leaders. Zarco and Miller were also in contention but had Mir and Miguel Oliveira to deal with, while Aleix Espargaro and Marc Marquez held onto the leading group, leaving Pol Espargaro one second behind. Back at the front of the group, Quartararo continued to attack Bagnaia for the first handful of laps but the Ducati had an answer for anything thrown its way. The Frenchman seemed to finally make a move stick at turn 11 on the sixth lap and the speed of the Ducati on the start-finish straight could not save Bagnaia this time around, allowing the Yamaha to attempt and escape.

Quartararo used his impeccable pace to quickly extend a one second gap in the space of one lap and a bit, dropping Bagnaia while Viñales still couldn’t find a way past Nakagami. Just behind the poleman, Zarco was fending off Mir and Oliveira, while Miller, Aleix Espargaro and Marquez were steadily losing touch with the chasing group.

Quartararo continued to extend his advantage over the next few laps, up to two seconds and a half by lap 10 and all eyes moved to the podium battle behind him. Just as Bagnaia got a track limits warning, Nakagami decided to have a go or two at the Italian but it as only brief, as Bagnaia powered back through on the straight. It was status quo behind them, where Viñales, Zarco, Mir and Oliveira could not yet find a way around each other to threaten the podium. Miller had dropped 8 tenths behind the group by the halfway stage of the race and was pushing to rejoin the battle, just like Aleix Espargaro and Marquez.

If the Honda could not defeat the Ducati on track, a long lap penalty did it, Bagnaia getting sanctioned with 13 laps remaining and dropping to ninth once he served the punishment. However, he was soon promoted one position when teammate Miller crashed out and was also helped by a fading Nakagami, who went from second to ninth in the blink of an eye, being given a helping hand at turn 5 from an attacking Mir.

Meanwhile, Viñales was left to chase his teammate but the eventful few laps amongst the pursuing group left them over four seconds behind Quartararo with 10 laps remaining. Viñales had more to worry about from behind, where Zarco and Mir were threatening a move. Oliveira wasn’t too far back but not within striking distance, while Bagnaia recovered to sixth but had a second and a half to find to the KTM man, while bringing Aleix Espargaro and Marquez with him.

Quartararo seemed to drop the pace a little bit at the front with 8 laps remaining but Viñales’ mission was made only slightly easier, the gap down to three seconds, while Mir became his main challenger after overtaking Zarco at turn 5. After the small blip, Quartararo managed the three-second gap for the next few laps and although his teammate started finding a couple tenths every lap, there were only five laps left by the time the gap dropped under 3 seconds. Viñales’ hot pursuit left the battle for third over three seconds behind, where Mir could not relax with Zarco and Oliveira on his tail. Bagnaia’s recovery stopped in sixth place, where he had some keen company from Marquez, Espargaro and Nakagami but the Italian was helped by a couple of tight exchanges between the Spaniards.

Quartararo started the final lap over two seconds ahead of his teammate and ended it with the same gap to make it a Yamaha 1-2 for the first time this season. Zarco pushed hard to challenge Mir with some personal best sector times but the Suzuki rider kept the final podium position to the finish line. Zarco missed the podium by three tenths of a second, while Oliveira settled for fifth. Bagnaia held onto sixth, while Marquez made a move stick on Espargaro at the final chicane to claim seventh place and do what Viñales couldn’t last time out. The Aprilia man kept eighth ahead of Nakagami, with Pol Espargaro completing the top 10 six seconds later.

Quartararo will have plenty of time to practice his victory celebrations over the long summer break, with a sweet 34-point advantage over Zarco and 47 to Bagnaia. Reigning world champion Mir climbs into fourth, 55 points down on the leader and one ahead of Miller. Viñales recovering a 61-point deficit after the break seems like a big ask given today’s outcome but stranger things have happened, to the Spaniard in particular.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 40'35.031
2 12 Maverick Viñales Yamaha +2.757
3 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +5.760
4 5 Johann Zarco Ducati +6.130
5 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM +8.402
6 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati +10.035
7 93 Marc Marquez Honda +10.110
8 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia +10.346
9 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda +12.225
10 44 Pol Espargaro Honda +18.565
11 42 Alex Rins Suzuki +21.372
12 33 Brad Binder KTM +21.676
13 9 Danilo Petrucci KTM +27.783
14 73 Alex Marquez Honda +29.772
15 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati +32.785
16 32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia +37.573
17 31 Garrett Gerloff Yamaha +53.213
18 10 Luca Marini Ducati +1'06.791
Not Classified
  27 Iker Lecuona KTM 8 Laps
  43 Jack Miller Ducati 8 Laps
  89 Jorge Martin Ducati 12 Laps
  46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 19 Laps
Round Number: 
9
2021
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Comments

The race was Maverick's until his bizarre decision making came into play. He clearly had his bike in time trial trim rather than race. Why on earth did he go over to the soft front when everyone was running the medium?

As explained on the BT commentary the soft front gives more corner speed but at the expense of straight line braking. In the race he needed to pass others but couldn't at the start as everyone else could brake later. Once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Not a happy bunny in parc ferme. 

Frankly he should have carried out his plan to copy Fabio's settings as he clearly doesn't excel in race strategy. If all the settings are the same then he should have the ability to make the difference. If he alters something then the difference maybe too much for even his ability to bridge. 

That was his only chance to beat Fabio, which was plan A -  runaway early with the soft front. But things went wrong at the start and he was unable to come back as quickly as he needed. So all in all, I think second place was pretty damn good given that he had to preserve that soft tyre, and there were some real roadblocks out there making like difficult for quite a few who got themselves caught up behind.

Me too! He looked pretty good Saturday. And, is there good coverage of Zarco - Rins? Only did one watch, and with a friend new to MotoGP and chatting. What happened there?

Wow, ok. Thanks.

Got to see the aggressive pass pushing Rins out to tour the golf tees. It was fair, but rough. 

Masterclass by Quartararo. Bagnai did his best to hold Quartararo up, but confirmed that the Ducati is still a a difficult beast to wrangle around the high speed bends and twisties of the Cathedral. His long lap penalty, Miller's crash and Martin's pit entrance all occurred on the same lap. Ugh. Well...the Austrian double-header is coming soon. Zarco is Mr. Consistancy and Mr. Smooth. Hard pass on Rins, but that's racing. Soft front, Mav? Felt disappointment when that info was divulged on the grid. Don't know the inner dialogue inside the box that led to that gamble. But am familiar with the inner workings of the destroyer character of the mind. That guy clouds judgement and fiddles with logic and common sense, creates conflict through emotional dischord which results in fracturous relationships and finger pointing. Fortunately, it is an acquired process and not true. Don't see a bed of roses for El piloto de Roses whether that be blue/black or just black next year unless he works on his mind/emotions. The trouble is that the person can have great difficulty receiving this information. I wish Vinales the best. Interesting that Quartararo spoke of a physical limitation with his right arm in the middle of the race. But it can be very hard for a person to see and admit that they are limited by their mind and emotions. The problem can be deeply embedded in the sense of self, making it seem very personal, even though it is very common in humanity. Good job Mir and everyone else. These guys (gender neutral reference to include Herrera and any other woman that wishes to partake) risk their lives in an attempt to master powerful forces using skill with their bodies and mind in order to create art on two wheels. And the articles and commentary on this site remind me to work on my own demons. Thanks everyone. Oh yeah. The track limit boundary has to be somewhere. Race Direction has a thankless job. Binder summed up many people's displeasure with their efforts in two words. That's racing.

Just downloaded the latest translation software...

"And they signed me again for two more years, and for the point where I am now I don't understand why."

gives....

"A contract is a mutual commitment to work together."

I do have a feeling there's a circus in town and they are taking over. In the current context, it wasn't just racing.

I thought today's performance was just as impressive as last week. 20th on the grid to finish 7th and took no crap from Aleix. It's taking a while but he's getting there. 

Maverick would own the #1 plate. Man, that display was terrible. I hope things improve at Aprilia but I seriously doubt he will find success there. I don't see him pulling off a career resurrection like Zarco did after he quit on KTM. 

Depends on whether he gets promoted to full factory ride, stays in Petronas team but on full factory machinery or continues to get hand me down machines. Petronas are having a mare this year. Dread to think how much it cost to write off Rossi's bike yesterday. 

Yes, I'm sure next year Franco will not be on a 2 year old bike. However, if Franco is offered the factory seat and says no thanks...lets see.

When DB40 is your best hope of points (until after the flag*), you're in trouble.
224 points from 54 starts this season - 4.15 per race. Twelfth place, on average.
They are better than that. Surely.

After nine races last year: 371, with one rider (poor little KIP) failing to score a point.

* I suspect a significant penalty may be in place for Austria for his, understandable, reaction. If it had not been delivered directly into the camera, he may have got away with it.

I hope no penalty for that...please no.

Dive Bomb Binder has always been a great rider to watch but he is a bit of bull in china shop sometimes.

I think if they want to curb offensive gestures and language they should keep it off track. Make them clean the garages with a toothbrush on a Monday or something i dunno. Or maybe accept that emotions take over sometimes and it's not exactly uncommon language.

What has golf got to do with it???

Keep working on the post-victory celebrations Fabio. My advice No golf references and don't jump in the pond at Jerez!

Lots of thoughts about demonstrative and often ungrounded Vinales. I like the human being, understand and appreciate much of his struggle marked experience with Yamaha (the bike was BAD not long ago, and for 2 yrs). He gets empathy here, but no free pass. It isn't just him still having a tough time with that bike. The media can be not an ally as much as an adversary at times. A very painful divorce has just gotten rolling publicly but the settlement is not here. He was as expressive as could be, but there are limits in what can be spoken. It is TOUGH. And the riders are more forward facing, exposed.

Praise due to Quartararo, he is really a stand out rider. It is hard to share a team with someone THAT good. He is in circa Marc territory. Is anyone else?

Some partnerships are best ended and as quickly and easily as possible. Last yr, Dovi in Red. Yamaha Management's behavior is not televised, unscripted or effervescing with race fuel. Went easy on Zarco too in Orange. Did not on Iannone. 

Anyhoo, I don't think we have seen the end of his story. He is cowriting a new chapter. Glad to see Aprilia getting riders lining up to get on it. Not going to choose amongst he and Divi, both could be great and the fit could work. I hold Dovi in high development esteem, more than Maverick. Andrea hasn't seemed to keen on the seat. Won't bet for or against Mav in Black. Will say it seems good and interesting. Maverick Vinales may not be so centered and equanimous/adaptive but he is also very strong in spirit, and skill. 

You wonder whether all this enthusiasm from Dovi to test - multiple dates lined up - was in advance of his signing for seat in 2022 - lets see whether Mav's announcement affects this ? Could be that Dovi like Dani has found the place he wants to be. 

I"m surprised no one in this comment section has mentioned what Quartararo did to Viñales at the start. It was a very dangerous move, and it did not need to be done. 

Quartararo is in the grip of the "win at all costs" mindset, but he should be careful. I don't think Viñales is a guy you want to push around, because he might just push back very hard. And in Viñales' current fragile mental state, he might even do something really crazy. If you doubt this could happen, remember the rivalry between Prost and Senna, and how Senna deliberately ran Prost off the track after he had enough of Prosts's questionable behaviors.

The behavior of Quartararo at the start in Assen is something Jarvis should deal with harshly, and promptly ( perhaps he has, it would be done without the media being privy to it, I'm sure ). I can already hear some of the commenters here responding with "that's racing", but cutting another rider during the start, when a lot of bikes are close together and all accelerating as hard as possible, could easily result in the kind of crash that produces another fatality if a rider falls and the pack is unable to avoid hitting that rider. ( we already know a bike hitting a downed rider is a type of crash that's more likely than most other types of crash to lead to fatal injuries )

I like Quartararo and to me he is the one guy who can probably give Marquez some real competition, but Quartararo needs to get some perspective before someone ends up dead. No championship is worth a human life, full stop.

I believe Quartararo cutting Viñales at the start is a large portion of what Viñales was angry about after the race. I can't say I blame Viñales for being angry about it, either. If anything, Viñales did a very good job keeping his cool when Quartararo was just a few feet away in parc fermé.

Seems a bit harsh. I liked the move having used the same move myself 30 years ago. And for Fabio, it worked, it got Mav off his game and mired in 5th. Shit like that happens to FQ every week (mm last week in 1, m1r earlier this year). 

Plus those guys are getting shot out of cannons. Hard to be inch perfect. Maybe Quartararo did not intend the move to be quite that aggresive. But hey, they survived the start so...Game on!

But if Viñales and Quartararo had collided and there was a crash and in the crash one or more riders were hit by other bikes and died as a result, then that reality would be very harsh indeed. In fact Quartararo created a situation which could well have played out as described in the previous sentence. Viñales acted quickly and a crash was averted, no thanks to Quartararo.

It's puzzling that some people will vehemently criticize the drafting behavior in Moto3, yet find no fault with what Quartararo did at the start in Assen.

I think it shows very poor judgement on Quartararo's part that he chose to cut Viñales off while the whole grid was still packed tightly and accelerating as hard as possible shortly after the flag dropped, and I stand by my opinion.

 

 

by the guy who starts 3m behind you, he's not the problem, you are.

FQ20 saw a piece of tarmac that MV12 wasn't using, and was ambling towards, in a leisurely manner, so he used it instead.

It's racing, not flower arranging.

And wtf does that even mean? There's no need to be ghoulish. Jason's passing was traumatic for many and I am offended that you would joke about it. Motorcycle racing is one thing, death quite another.

A) the start at Assen between Yamaha riders was fine. So are they about it. 

B) Track limits exceeded here on the comments, not the first time. Please don't. This is a good place to be, it isn't abusive. Some people realize this is the place for them to be civilized. Other people realize this isn't the place for them. Go for the first, eh?

Yes BB2T I wanted to have another look at that action. Fab makes a definite move across Mav's line. Non-verbal message "I'm number 1 & you aint!" Maverick didn't do a perfect start. MV took too long to get his feet on the pegs. Mav put himself there but Fabio made it dangerous. Didn't get a good look but Mav seemed to slow a lot. Must have been very close!

Agree with your assessment of the high level of risk for Maverick and all the following riders.

Yes Lyn Jarvis should give Fabio a good talking to. The team manager should give some direction to Fabio and Maverick. These two will have to share the track and the garage until the end of this season.

Will Jarvis lay down the law for Fabio? Don't know. FQ20 is leading the championship. Viñales is leaving Yamaha at the end of the year. No doubt Jarvis remembers how Fabio's campaign imploded after Jerez 2 in 2020. So Lyn probably doesn't want to upset the golden child (22).

Quartararo could do with being a bit more strategic in his racecraft. Being aware of what happens to the rider who causes an incident that brings out the red flags. He won by two & three quarter seconds, was 3.5 ahead at times. No need for sketchy moves when he can win without taking that big risk.

Yes mtiberio last century it worked for me. Also got hit from behind when I missjudged it. 30 years later who remembers?

I do remember racers getting killed in the 80s at my local track, while I was there. Glad I wasn't involve in those races.

So lucky all riders made it through turn 1!