Aleix Espargaró delivered a remarkable comeback at the Dutch TT in Assen after World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo nearly knocked the Aprilia star off his bike.
Aleix Espargaró got off to a strong start from the second row and took second place behind pole sitter Pecco Bagnaia. In the fifth turn of the fifth lap, however, the Aprilia star’s race was almost over when Fabio Quartararo tried to overtake and crashed. Espargaró was pushed into the gravel trap and dropped back to 15th place, but at least he was able to continue the Dutch TT.
It is now clear that the incident has even more far-reaching consequences for World Championship leader Quartararo, because the World Championship leader not only scored a zero, but was also given a long lap penalty in the British Grand by the FIM MotoGP stewards for his “overzealous attempt to overtake”. Prix (7 August) thundered.
Aleix Espargaró, on the other hand, fought his way up to fourth place with the fastest pace in the field (including a lap record of 1:32.500 min) and an incredible last chicane, where he overran Brad Binder and Jack Miller. The Las Termas winner thus reduced his deficit in the World Championship table to 21 points.
“There’s one thing that doesn’t earn points but is important to me, that I’ve lacked in the past four or five races and that I need if I want to fight for this title – and that’s to be fast, that Fastest on the track. And I think this weekend, apart from qualifying, with the bad luck with the yellow flags, I was the fastest. I showed them my speed today and that’s very important for me. I didn’t win today because Fabio hit me. But I think the victory was clear. It’s important for me to have that feeling.”
The Aprilia works driver rolled up the field seemingly effortlessly. Why was overtaking so easy for him? “I had nothing to lose and I don’t want to sound arrogant, but my pace today was a bit faster than the pace of the rest of the field. If the difference is half a second or a few tenths, it’s much easier. In the last chicane, I braked much later than everyone else. Especially in the fast sector, my bike was unbelievable, nobody could keep the speed that I was able to take with me. So it was pretty easy for me.”
As a World Cup runner-up, he would certainly have something to lose. «After Fabio met me, I saw P14 on my pitboard. At that moment I said to myself: ‘Your race is over. Nothing changes if you collect two or three points. It doesn’t matter, you have to aim for more than ten – and if you fall, you fall.’ And I figured, even if I fall, it wouldn’t be my fault, it’s Fabio’s,” Espargaró added with a grin. «Today was the day to prove that I’m fast and that I have a good bike – and I did that. When I saw the lap times, I had to smile myself. 1:32.5 min, that’s fantastic.»
Did Aleix Espargaró expect an attack at Turn 5? Or was it just a “stupid mistake” by Quartararo, as the Yamaha star himself admitted? “Yes, because I was very strong at that point – and Fabio knew it. The reason why Fabio did this maneuver is that his feeling with the bike is super good and he can close the lines very well. We also saw that in Germany in the first corner with Pecco. He’s not an unfair driver, but his confidence is high enough to close the lines. But I was also super fast today and closed the lines like him – and we collided. He apologized to me because he made a big mistake. He misjudged this maneuver in this corner.”
MotoGP result, Assen (26 June):
1. Bagnaia, Ducati, 26 laps in 40:25.205 min
2. Bezzecchi, Ducati, + 0.444 sec
3. Vinales, Aprilia, +1.209
4. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia, +2,585
5.Brad Binder, KTM, +2,721
6.Miller, Ducati, +3.045
7. Martin, Ducati, +4,340
8. Mir, Suzuki, +8.185
9. Oliveira, KTM, +8.325
10. Rins, Suzuki, +8,596
11.Bastianini, Ducati, +9.783
12. Nakagami, Honda, +10,617
13. Zarco, Ducati, +14.405
14. Di Giannantonio, Ducati, +17.681
15. Alex Marquez, Honda, +25.866
16. Dovizioso, Yamaha, +29.711
17. Marini, Ducati, +30.296
18. Bradl, Honda, +32.225
19. Gardner, KTM, +34.947
20. Savadori, Aprilia, +35.798
– Fernández, KTM, 8 laps down
– Quartararo, Yamaha, 15 laps back
– Darryn Binder, Yamaha, 18 laps back
– Morbidelli, Yamaha, 18 laps back
MotoGP Riders’ World Championship after 11 of 20 Grands Prix:
1. Quartararo 172 points. 2 Aleix Espargaró 151 3 Zarco 114 4 Bagnaia 106 5 Bastianini 105 6 Brad Binder 93 7 Miller 91 8 Mir 77 9 Rins 75 10 Oliveira 71 11 Martin 70 12 Viñales 62 13 Marc Marquez 60 14 Bezzecchi 55 15 Marini 52 16 Nakagami 42 17 Pol Espargaró 40 18 Alex Marquez 27 19 Morbidelli 25 20 Di Giannantonio 18 .21 Darryn Binder 10 22 Dovizioso 10 23 Gardner 9 24 Raul Fernandez 5
1. Ducati 246 points. 2. Yamaha 172. 3. Aprilia 155. 4. KTM 121. 5. Suzuki 101. 6. Honda 85.
Team World Cup:
1. Aprilia Racing 213 points. 2 Monster Energy Yamaha 197 3 Ducati Lenovo Team 197 4 Prima Pramac Racing 184 5 Red Bull KTM Factory 164 6 Suzuki Ecstar 152 7 Gresini Racing 123 8 Mooney VR46 Racing 107 9 Repsol Honda 100th 10th LCR Honda 69th 11th WithU Yamaha RNF 20th 12th Tech3 KTM Factory 14th