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Bagnaia's double Dutch delight in race of attrition at Assen

Monday, 26 June 2023

Ducati's reigning world champion extends his MotoGP™ series lead with a second consecutive win at 'The Cathedral', while Brad Binder's bad luck bites twice at the worst possible time.

Pecco Bagnaia extended his MotoGP™ world championship lead to a season-best 35 points with his fourth Grand Prix victory of 2023, Ducati's reigning world champion winning at Assen for the second year in succession to snap a run of seven different winners in the previous seven races in the Netherlands.

From second on the grid, Bagnaia – along with pole-sitter Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) – were blitzed into the first corner by the fast-starting Brad Binder, the KTM rider taking a gamble by using a soft rear tyre in the hottest track temperatures of the weekend, the tarmac registering over 50 degrees at the start of the race.


Bagnaia pushed past Binder on lap three and never relinquished the lead for the remainder of the 26-lap race, but his road to victory was far from comfortable after Bezzecchi – winner of the Sprint race 24 hours earlier – demoted Binder to third with 10 laps left.

Bagnaia's victory margin was just 1.223secs over Bezzecchi at the finish – reversing the order of Saturday's 13-lap Sprint – while Binder held off Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) for third place across the line before lightning cruelly struck twice for the South African.

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Penalised one position for a track limits infringement on the final lap of the Saturday Sprint, which saw him lose third to Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, Binder was again denied a podium after running off track at Turn 8 – for the second day in a row – on Sunday's final lap, Espargaro inheriting his first podium of the season.

It was an attritional race in the hottest temperatures of the season so far, with just 14 of the 22 starters seeing the chequered flag.

Aussie watch

Jack Miller's milestone 200th Grand Prix start in Assen ended in misery, the Australian failing to score a point in Saturday's Sprint before crashing out of Sunday's Grand Prix after just one lap.

Miller was sitting pretty in third place on the timesheets after Friday practice, but his weekend unravelled on Saturday, suffering from front tyre vibrations as he qualified just 12th, recording a lap time that was half a second slower than his Friday best.

The KTM rider could only gain one place in Saturday's 13-lap Sprint to finish two places outside the top-nine points-paying positions, and was the first retirement in Sunday's race after a barnstorming first lap.

Miller gained five places on lap one to jump to seventh, but tucked the front of his KTM into the first corner on the next lap to be the first of six riders to crash out.

In Moto3™, Australia's Joel Kelso finished an outstanding season-best ninth after being part of a 10-rider brawl for the podium that raged for all 20 laps, Kelso finishing just 1.3secs behind race-winner Jaume Masia (Spain, Honda).

The CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team rider started from a career-best second place on the grid and led the opening lap of the race, but his podium chances dimmed when he was forced to check up at the final corner when Japan's Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) made a mistake with five laps remaining.

The 20-year-old's result was the second-best of his 28-race world championship career, bettered only by finishing eighth at his home Grand Prix in Australia last October.

Surprise packet

A surprise championship contender for much of 2022 in his 13th MotoGP™ campaign, Aleix Espargaro had been largely anonymous this season before Sunday's inherited podium, his first visit to the rostrum in the past 13 races dating back to his third-place finish in Aragon last September.

From sixth on the grid, the Aprilia rider made a blistering getaway, one so good that he came into contact with front-row starter Luca Marini (Ducati) at the first corner, damaging his right brake protector and leaving him with a flapping right front wing for the remaining 26 laps.

Undeterred, Espargaro pressed on and reeled in a fading Binder in the final laps while resisting pressure from German GP winner Jorge Martin (Ducati); the trio flashed across the line separated by just four-tenths of a second, with Binder's one-place penalty gifting Aprilia its first podium since Maverick Vinales finished second in the season-opening Portuguese Grand Prix.

Number to know

0: That's the number of Grand Prix finishes Marc Marquez has at the 2023 mid-season break after the eight-time world champion was forced to withdraw from Sunday's race with lingering injuries from his litany of crashes in Germany last weekend.

The 30-year-old came to Assen simply looking to finish the first part of the season on the grid after suffering an ankle injury, hand fracture and rib injury in his five separate falls at the Sachsenring, but after qualifying a muted 17th and finishing in the same place in Saturday's Sprint, the Honda man was declared unfit to ride on Sunday.

Marquez's 15 points across the five rounds he has competed in this year have all come in Sprints, and leave him in 19th in the world championship standings.

"I'm in one of my most difficult professional moments," Marquez told

"Now I need to work, I have a month and a half to rebuild all these things to get my confidence back."

Dutch TT: top 10

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 40mins 37.640secs
2. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) +1.223secs
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +1.925secs
4. Brad Binder (KTM) +1.528secs (one position post-race penalty)
5. Jorge Martin (Ducati) +1.934secs
6. Alex Marquez (Ducati) +12.437secs
7. Luca Marini (Ducati) +14.174secs
8. Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) +14.616secs
9. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) +29.335secs
10. Augusto Fernandez (GasGas) +33.736secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 194 points
2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 159 points
3. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 158 points
4. Brad Binder (KTM) 114 points
5. Johann Zarco (Ducati) 109 points

What's next?

Round 9: Great Britain (Silverstone), August 4-6