As the forecast made clear from the beginning, the weather wasn’t going to give riders an easy weekend in Assen but rain poured down even quicker than expected, soaking the track by the time the intermediate class resumed action for the afternoon session. Given the conditions, there was no time to be found on the combined standings and the battle for the top 14 moves on to Saturday morning but there was still a wet FP2 to be claimed.
Maverick Viñales topped the second session of the day at Assen for the MotoGP class, adding the fastest time in the afternoon to his fastest time of the morning. Though a few riders improved their time in the first half of the session, rain - light at first, and then a proper downpour - ruined most riders' attempts to go faster, with the provisional top 10 remained unchanged from the morning.
Tatsuki Suzuki has topped the second session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Assen. Despite a big crash at De Bult, the Japanese rider ended the session as fastest, with a late sprinkling of rain halting any chance of other riders besting Suzuki's time.
Darryn Binder ended the session in second, less than a tenth off the time of Suzuki, while Dennis Foggia was third quickest, a third of a second slower than the South African. Andrea Migno ended the session in fourth, while Jaume Masia was fifth fastest.
Two riders named Fernandez topped the timesheets in the Moto2 class at Assen. The first session of practice saw Marc VDS rider Augusto finish ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Raul (no relation), the two men being the only riders to get into the 1'36 bracket.
Championship leader Remy Gardner ended FP1 in third, a quarter of a second behind his teammate Raul Fernandez, and a tenth of a second ahead of Jorge Navarro. Simone Corsi put the MV Agusta into fifth spot.
FP1 saw a complete turnaround for Maverick Viñales. After finishing dead last in the Sachsenring, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider set the fastest time of the first session of practice in Assen. It was not all sweetness and light, however, Viñales nearly losing the front of his Yamaha M1 at Madijk and shaking his head and fist vigorously.
Dennis Foggia snatched the fastest time from Darryn Binder in the first session of practice at Assen, the Leopard Racing rider diving under Binder's quickest time right at the end of the session. Andrea Migno took third, despite a heavy crash at the Ruskenhoek, while Romano Fenati ended the session as fourth quickest.
"This track is special." Alex Rins summed up what most of the MotoGP riders, and indeed, almost anyone who has raced a motorcycle, think of the Circuit van Drenthe, the official name of the TT Circuit, or as most fans around the world know it, Assen. "One of my favorite tracks," is how championship leader Fabio Quartararo described it.
Pecco Bagnaia loves it so much he has a tattoo of the circuit on his arm. "I really like the layout of this track," the Ducati Lenovo Team rider told us. He had good reason to like the layout, as Assen has been a happy hunting ground for him. "My first victory, the best weekend of my career in Moto2 here, when I was first in all the sessions and in the race," Bagnaia told. Reason enough to create an indelible reminder of the occasion on his own body.
Andrea Dovizioso has completed two days of testing at Misano. Afterward, they issued the following press release, containing statements from Aprilia Corse boss Massimo Rivola on their pursuit of a rider for 2022:
In the Paddock Pass Podcast Follow On Show Fueled by Marc VDS Racing, Neil Morrison and David Emmett look back at the Moto2 and Moto3 races at the Sachsenring. Neil and David kick off with a discussion of Remy Gardner's impressive win in Moto2, and how he lured Raul Fernandez into a mistake. The talk about Aron Canet's strong podium, discuss whether Marco Bezzecchi is doing enough to deserve a MotoGP ride, and how Sam Lowes has regrouped after a couple of mistakes.
They then go on to talk about how, despite Moto3 races seeming incredibly random, the same rider keeps on managing to win, and whether Pedro Acosta really is that special. And they discuss whether the penalty situation is improving in Moto3.
There was plenty of drama in both Moto2 and Moto3 at the German Grand Prix, with the respective leaders in each class cementing their championship leads.
Gardner: better rider, more stable person
The more this year goes on, the more Remy Gardner appears like a champion in waiting. The 23-year old was the class of the Moto2 field once again in Germany, translating his relentless free practice speed to the race, where he rushed past teammate and pole sitter Raul Fernandez and immediately put the Spaniard under pressure.
No one else got a sniff. The pair were 0.8s ahead of third by the close of lap one, 2.9s at the end of lap three, and Gardner’s lead was extended to 4.9s on lap five when Fernandez crashed out – margins that are not normal for a track as short as the Sachsenring, especially in a class as tight as Moto2.
It capped a brilliant three-week period for the 23-year old, in which he became the first Australian in history to win three consecutive races in grand prix’s intermediate category, and confirmed a deal to climb to MotoGP with Hervé Poncharal’s Tech 3 KTM squad.
Austin is back on the MotoGP calendar. Today, the FIM announced that the Motegi round of MotoGP has been canceled, as travel to Japan is still very difficult, with the Circuit of the Americas being put in its place on October 3rd. The changes have obviously been made in response to the pandemic, and as Covid-19 continues to be a problem around the world, more changes are likely.
Currently, MotoGP is set to go to Thailand two weeks after Austin, on October 17th, the first of a triple header at Buriram, then Phillip Island in Australia, and then the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. However, travel restrictions are still in place for Phillip Island, and are unlikely to be lifted in time for the race to take place. And the current Covid-19 situation in Thailand is also cause for concern. Sepang are also believed to be willing to host a race only if they can have at least 70% fan capacity at the track.
We have two special guests on the latest edition of the Paddock Pass Podcast. With the race at Assen, David Emmett was able to link up with Neil Morrison in person, and sit down with photographers Cormac Ryan Meenan of CormacGP and Rob Gray of Polarity Photo to discuss a historic race at the Sachsenring. As official photographers for the teams which finished in first and second place respectively, Cormac and Rob are in a unique position to talk about how Repsol Honda and Red Bull KTM saw Marc Marquez' win and Miguel Oliveira's second place.
Naturally, we discuss those topics first. How Marc Marquez won the race at the Sachsenring, and how the unique nature of the track played into that, and how KTM's improvement in the last few races has combined with the progress of Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder to see Oliveira emerge as a genuine title candidate. But we also go on to discuss the incomprehensible situation in Yamaha, where Fabio Quartararo ended on the podium, and his factory Yamaha teammate crossed the line dead last, with Valentino Rossi the only other Yamaha rider to score points, in fourteenth position.
It is easy to make predictions. It is much harder to make predictions which will actually turn out to accurately forecast what will happen in the future. Which is why most of the many industries which make their living from what might broadly be labeled "predictions" – futurologists, financial analysts, political and sporting pundits – consist mainly of drawing a line through what happened in the past and extrapolating it on into the future.
Of course, the future doesn't work that way. The world is a far more complex and nuanced place, with a thousand minor details conspiring to change the course of history in unheard of ways. Which is why the only people who make really money off of predictions are those making the odds, such as the bookmakers, or playing with other people's money, such as merchant bankers and investment advisors.
My own role here is as a MotoGP pundit, and in that capacity, I too made my own prediction: that Marc Márquez would make it 11 victories in a row at the Sachsenring this Sunday. That prediction was based on two things: extrapolating the last 10 races in which Marc Márquez had competed into 2021; and Márquez' actions at the Barcelona tests, where he racked up more laps than any other rider.
Doubt creeps in
MotoGP standings after Sachsenring: