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REPORT: Bagnaia back in his groove at Assen

Matt Clayton
Monday, 1 July 2024

Pecco Bagnaia did what Pecco Bagnaia does at the Dutch TT – win, and win with a dominant weekend-long display that eroded Jorge Martin’s once-sizeable championship lead to a paltry 10 points.

Pecco Bagnaia is beginning to look ominous. The reigning MotoGP world champion hasn’t headed the championship standings since after round one in Qatar, but his dominant lights-to-flag win at the Dutch TT on Sunday was his third straight at Assen, and his third in a row this season as he narrowed Jorge Martin’s championship lead to just 10 points. 

Bagnaia’s love affair with Assen is well known; the Italian took his first world championship win there in Moto3 in 2016, and won again in Moto2 before graduating to MotoGP. Sunday’s success saw him become the first rider since Mick Doohan to win three straight at ‘The Cathedral’, and was never in doubt.


Fastest in all three practice sessions, Bagnaia took pole, won the Sprint race on Saturday, and then took off on Sunday. Martin was the only rider to keep him in sight, but that was only relative; the Spaniard used the medium-compound Michelin front tyre (the only rider in the top 16 on the grid to do so) in an attempt to upset the form guide, but it was no use. Bagnaia was over a second ahead after five laps, and by lap 26 and the chequered flag, the margin was 3.676secs. 

Bagnaia has now won both races in Assen and Italy, and could have gone a perfect six-for-six across the past three race weekends but for a crash from the lead on the final lap of the Catalunya sprint in round six.

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With Martin comfortable in second, the race was for the final place on the podium, and it ebbed and flowed between the Ducatis of Marc Marquez and Fabio Di Giannantonio, along with Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, for the majority of the race. Enea Bastianini had other ideas, though; Bagnaia’s teammate performed his now-customary late-race tyre-saving trick to storm towards the front from 10th on the grid to end up on the rostrum, the podium trio the same as Italy at the beginning of June. 

Marquez prevailed over Vinales and Di Giannantonio to finish fourth, but was later penalised 16 seconds for a tyre pressure rule infraction hours after the race, falling to 10th in the classification and losing seven world championship points in the process. It was the final insult to a weekend of championship injury for the Spaniard, who crashed out of Saturday’s sprint. 

Australia’s Jack Miller finished 11th, his first Sunday points since the Grand Prix of the Americas in round three, while the KTM rider was 13th in the sprint after failing to get out of Q1 in qualifying.


Surprise packet

A surprise – and not in a good way – was an atypically anonymous Assen for star rookie Pedro Acosta, who didn’t score a point for the first weekend this season. 

The GasGas 20-year-old had to go through Q1 to make it as high as 10th on the grid, but couldn’t gain a single place in the sprint to end up outside the points. Sunday was worse, the Spaniard falling back from the podium fight featuring Marquez, Di Giannantonio, Vinales and Bastianini into a lonely seventh place, and then crashed out on the final lap to lose fifth in the standings to Vinales. 

“Maybe the tyres cooled down too much, it was a strange crash,” he said afterwards. 


Number to know

23: Bagnaia’s 23rd victory for Ducati sees him equal Aussie legend Casey Stoner’s win total for the Italian manufacturer. 

Dutch TT: top 10

  1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 40mins 07.214secs
  2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) +3.676secs 
  3. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) +7.073secs
  4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +8.299secs 
  5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +8.258secs (one-place penalty for track limits infringement)
  6. Brad Binder (KTM) +16.005secs
  7. Alex Marquez (Ducati) +21.095secs 
  8. Raul Fernandez (Aprilia) +22.368secs 
  9. Franco Morbidelli (Ducati) +23.413secs
  10. Marc Marquez (Ducati) +23.868secs (16sec post-race penalty)


Riders' championship standings (top 5)

  1. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 200 points
  2. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 190
  3. Marc Marquez (Ducati) 142
  4. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) 136
  5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) 118


What's next?

Round 9: Germany (Sachsenring), July 5-7