Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia won the Dutch MotoGP yesterday to reignite his title challenge after championship leader Fabio Quartararo crashed out of an incident-packed race.
Frenchman Quartararo fell twice, flipping spectacularly over his handlebars in the second incident although he walked away afterwards, shaking his fists in anger at his error.
Bagnaia, in contrast, stayed out of trouble on his Ducati to record his third victory of the season and a welcome full points score after failing to finish in the last two races.
“I am so happy after two difficult races,” the Italian said.
In a great day for Italian riders, Marco Bezzecchi on a Ducati for Valentino Rossi’s VR46 team was second while Spanish rider Maverick Vinales rounded out the podium in the 11th race of the 20-season. Quartararo heads into the summer break with a 21-point lead over Aleix Espargaro, who was fourth yesterday.
The Frenchman fell on the fifth then on the 13th lap out of 26 in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the Netherlands.
Even if he quickly got back on his feet, he had to give up after this second accident.
The Frenchman got off to a bad start and was quickly overtaken by Aprilia rider Espargaro.
It was while he was trying to recover second place, in an attempt on the inside of a bend, that Quartararo lost control of his Yamaha, ending up in the gravel although he was soon back in the saddle, albeit in last place. But a few laps later, his race was over after an acrobatic tumble.
Change of fortune
“I made a rookie’s mistake. I attacked as it is was the last lap and the last bend,” Quartararo said of his first fall, which he said had left something feeling “not right” with his bike.
As soon as the race was over he apologised to Espargaro for forcing him off the track in the fifth lap. This was the first time since 1994 that Yamaha have failed to score a point at Assen. For Bagnaia, taking the chequered flag was a welcome change of fortune.
This was the fourth time in six races he had claimed pole, but he had failed to finish in three of his past four outings.
He won his last two completed races - at Jerez and Mugello - but like Quartararo on Sunday was visibly angry last weekend after crashing out of the German MotoGP, where his French rival prevailed.
Runner-up to Quartararo in the championship last year, he had looked poised to challenge for the title just a few weeks ago, but subsequently slipped to 91 points off the pace before this round of the season at the circuit known as the “Cathedral of Speed”.
Ahead of the next race at Silverstone on August 7 the 25-year-old from Turin moved up from sixth to fourth, cutting the gap to Quartararo to 66 points.
In third overall is Johann Zarco, who said he had suffered a “very difficult” day after trailing in 13th on his Ducati-Primac.
“It was really hard maintaining my pace and little by little I slipped out of the fight,” he said.
“So I’m disappointed, obviously, but it’s good to get another three points on the board and to see I’m still in third place in the standings. But it’s no fun to come in an exhausted 13th!”
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 40 mins 25.205sec, 2.2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) at 0.444sec, 3. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 1.209, 4. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 2.585, 5. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 2.721, 6. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 3.045, 7. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 4.340, 8. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 8.185, 9. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 8.325, 10. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 8.596
Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha)
World championship standings
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 172 points, 2. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 151, 3. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 114, 4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 106, 5. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) 105, 6. Brad Binder (AFS/KTM) 93, 7. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 91, 8. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 77, 9. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 75, 10. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 71
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