In a thrilling MotoGP Dutch Grand Prix, Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati won after championship leader Fabio Quartararo dropped twice. Valentino Rossi’s team earned their first ever podium.
Bagnaia’s championship chances were helped by an earlier collision for Quartararo that also dropped Aleix Espargaro off course. Bagnaia entered the Assen weekend 91 points behind Quartararo following two consecutive DNFs.
Bagnaia’s lights-to-flag triumph from pole position gives Ducati its first victory at Assen since2008, and his 66-point deficit to Quartararo at the halfway mark of the season.
Aleix Espargaro and Jorge Martin were able to pass Quartararo and Aleman Bagnaia as a result of Quartararo running wide off the starting line.
At Turn3, Quartararo took up third from Martin quickly and sped past Espargaro into Turn 5.
However, Espargaro struck back into the quick right-hander of Turn 6 to retake second place from the championship leader as Bagnaia’s advantage increased to over a second over the opening lap.
For the following three circuits, Quartararo followed Espargaro before making his move on the Aprilia rider entering Turn 5 on the fifth round.
Espargaro was sent into the gravel as the Yamaha rider collided with him as he attempted the overtake.
At the conclusion of lap nine, Quartararo pulled into the pit lane on his broken Yamaha and rejoined the race from the rear of the field.
However, things would quickly become worse for him when he sustained a devastating highside approaching Turn 5 on lap13, forcing him to withdraw from the race for the first time since Portugal 2021.
The Quartararo/Espargaro crash will be investigated after the race, but it helped Bagnaia to draw 1.4 seconds clear of VR46 Ducati freshman Marco Bezzecchi, who preferred the soft rear tyre over the hard one Bagnaia utilized.
Over the next laps, Bagnaia’s advantage would decrease to less than a second and stayed comparatively stable as Jorge Martin of Pramac sought in vain to pressure Bezzecchi up front into making a mistake.
On lap17, as light rain started to fall on the back half of the Assen circuit, the race for the podium changed. Martin’s pace slowed down as Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales passed him for third via the quick left-hander towards the conclusion of the lap at Turn 15.
Martin was further disqualified on laps 17 and 18 as he battled for the last podium slot with Ducati’s Jack Miller and KTM’s Brad Binder. Miller had got a long lap penalty in qualifying for blocking Vinales.
The short downpour cleared over the course of the final few circuits, with Bagnaia pulling away by over two seconds at one point to win his third race of the year, snapping a sequence of back-to-back DNFs and giving his championship challenge some hope.
While Vinales recorded his first Aprilia podium one year after his final one with Yamaha on the weekend he took the decision to leave the Japanese manufacturer, Bezzecchi made no errors in claiming his first MotoGP podium and the first for the VR46 team.