Marco Bezzecchi claims pole after breaking lap record in Assen

Marco Bezzecchi claims pole after breaking lap record in Assen

Marco Bezzecchi is set to start the Dutch MotoGP sprint from the pole position after breaking the qualifying lap record in Assen.

Marco Bezzecchi claimed his first pole of 2023 by setting a new lap record at the Dutch MotoGP in Assen and edged off Francesco Bagnaia by only 0.061 seconds.

The VR46 rider maintained the dominant form he displayed in Friday practice in the early stages of the pole shootout. He turned in the fastest lap of the weekend up to that point, a 1:31.874s, to lead Bagnaia by almost two tenths of a second as Ducati yet again dominated.

Marc Marquez was seeking to find the kind of pace that had been lacking during free practice as he trailed Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli. He set a highly competitive lap time, but Zarco took the lead and prevented him from outpacing the other two riders.

Marquez managed to breach into that lap time barrier after being nowhere near it all weekend, but it was only good enough for P5 after the opening lap.

Takaaki Nakagami led the Honda team by overtaking Zarco, shocking Ducati in the process. Zarco was having none of it and recorded the weekend’s fastest lap in response to both Miguel Oliveira and Nakagami as the Pramac Ducati rider set a time of 1:31.993 seconds.

Brad Binder used Marco Bezzecchi’s speed to his advantage and raced to the top of the time rankings in Q2. One of the front-runners for pole, Jorge Martin, lost control of his bike at turn five during his initial attempt as Bezzecchi outran Binder for first place.

However, Bezzecchi had more in reserve for the last laps of Q2 as he put up an amazing 1:31.472s performance that broke the previous two-wheeled lap record in Assen by 0.032s, with Bagnaia moving into second place just over half a tenth adrift.

Bezzecchi won his second premier class pole position of his career to lead an all-Ducati front row ahead of Bagnaia and Marini. Marini’s crash at Turn 8 came just after the Italian passed Bagnaia for third place overall, effectively ending any chances for improvement as the field lost any advantage their new tyres had given them on their respective second attempts.

For Yamaha, Fabio Quartararo put on his most competitive performance of the year so far by finishing fourth on the grid after lapping just 0.199 seconds slower than Bezzecchi. The Frenchman narrowly beat out KTM’s Brad Binder and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro who finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Maverick Vinales, riding the sister factory Aprilia secured a spot at the head of the third row only in front of his teammate in seventh while Johann Zarco, who had just barely escaped the grips of Q1, took eighth place for Pramac Ducati.

Gresini’s Alex Marquez finished ninth and Jorge Martin rounded out the top ten. The Spaniard had a challenging practice and crashed at Turn 3 early on, leaving him with work to do to attempt to reduce Bagnaia’s points advantage.

On his KTM, Jack Miller closed the 12 Q2 runners after Miguel Oliveira having advanced from Q1 with Zarco, was ranked eleventh.

Fabio Di Gianantonio finished 13th on the starting grid for both the sprint and grand prix events, just ahead of Takaaki Nakagami of LCR Honda, who finished as the highest runner for the Japanese manufacturer in 14th ahead of Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli. This was Fabio’s first Q2 appearance of 2023.

On a cool-down lap, Marc Marquez was riding his factory Honda when Enea Bastianini slowed down to watch for approaching riders. Marquez did the same thing without noticing Bastianini was slowing, and as a result, the Ducati’s rear hit him as he fell into the gravel.

Following his early crash Marquez will start both races on the grid in 17th place just ahead of Bastianini. Aprilia wildcard Lorenzo Savadori was the top one-off rider in 19th place, just ahead of Stefan Bradl, a stand-in for LCR Honda.

Iker Lecuona on his factory Honda and teammate Jonas Folger were just ahead of rookie Augusto Fernandez as he struggled for speed on his way to 21st place for GasGas.

DUTCH MOTOGP, ASSEN FULL QUALIFYING RESULTS

 
POS RIDER NAT TEAM TIME/DIFF LAP MAX
1 Marco Bezzecchi ITA Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP22) 1’31.472s 6/9 311k
2 Francesco Bagnaia ITA Ducati Lenovo (GP23) +0.061s 6/8 311k
3 Luca Marini ITA Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP22) +0.158s 6/6 313k
4 Fabio Quartararo FRA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +0.199s 6/8 305k
5 Brad Binder RSA Red Bull KTM (RC16) +0.232s 6/8 309k
6 Aleix Espargaro SPA Aprilia Racing (RS-GP23) +0.340s 6/8 306k
7 Maverick Viñales SPA Aprilia Racing (RS-GP23) +0.365s 6/8 311k
8 Johann Zarco FRA Pramac Ducati (GP23) +0.409s 6/8 310k
9 Alex Marquez SPA Gresini Ducati (GP22) +0.426s 6/8 307k
10 Jorge Martin SPA Pramac Ducati (GP23) +0.698s 4/6 307k
11 Miguel Oliveira POR RNF Aprilia (RS-GP22) +0.702s 7/8 307k
12 Jack Miller AUS Red Bull KTM (RC16) +1.243s 3/8 308k
  Qualifying 1:          
13 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA Gresini Ducati (GP22) 1’32.185s 6/8 305k
14 Takaaki Nakagami JPN LCR Honda (RC213V) 1’32.497s 3/8 302k
15 Franco Morbidelli ITA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) 1’32.53s 2/6 305k
16 Raul Fernandez SPA RNF Aprilia (RS-GP22) 1’32.671s 5/7 309k
17 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda (RC213V) 1’32.672s 2/5 305k
18 Enea Bastianini ITA Ducati Lenovo (GP23) 1’32.844s 2/8 311k
19 Lorenzo Savadori ITA Aprilia Factory (RS-GP23) 1’33.008s 5/7 311k
20 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda (RC213V) 1’33.04s 7/7 307k
21 Augusto Fernandez SPA Tech3 GASGAS (RC16)* 1’33.082s 2/8 306k
22 Iker Lecuona SPA Repsol Honda (RC213V) 1’33.088s 7/8 304k
23 Jonas Folger GER Tech3 GASGAS (RC16) 1’33.3s 3/8 304k

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