Assen MotoGP: Vinales leads Espargaro, Rins in FP1
Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales topped the first practice session for the MotoGP Dutch Grand Prix just days after suffering his career-worst grand prix race weekend in Germany.
Winner of the last Dutch TT, Vinales comes into this weekend’s race weekend in despondent form after his worst-ever weekend as a MotoGP rider in Germany last time out when he qualified 21st and finished the race last.
Unhappy with what he feels is a lack of respect from Yamaha in how it has handled his woes in 2021, Vinales admitted at Assen he will copy teammate Fabio Quartararo’s set-ups in a bid to find a solution to his problems.
MotoGP returns to Assen this season after a one-year hiatus after the 2020 Dutch TT was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Since MotoGP’s last visit, the track has been completely resurfaced, with Michelin bringing four front and rear tyres for the riders to evaluate this weekend.
The new surface meant top spot changed hands frequently over the first half of the session, with championship leader Quartararo setting the early pace on his Yamaha with a 1m36.752s.
Over the next 10 minutes the Hondas of Takaaki Nakagami, Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez, Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia and Quartararo’s Yamaha’s teammate Maverick Vinales all took turns leading the timesheets.
With 15 minutes of the 45-minute session gone, Vinales headed the timesheets with a 1m33.442s.
With just under 20 minutes to go, Honda’s Espargaro returned to the top of the pole with a 1m33.392s as he too is looking to copy his teammate’s settings to try and better understand his RC213V.
Both Espargaro and Marquez have a new chassis to try this weekend at Assen, which made its debut in FP1 in the hands of the latter.
Vinales went fastest again with a 1m33.308s with just over 12 minutes to run in the session, which stood as the benchmark until the final few seconds when the Yamaha rider improved to a 1m33.072s.
This would see out the session as the best lap, with Pol Espargaro on the Honda trailing him by 0.111 seconds.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins leaped up to third late on with a 1m33.501s, with Quartararo and Johann Zarco on the Pramac Ducati completing the top five.
Danilo Petrucci was the sole KTM representative in the top 10 in sixth at the end of FP1, Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro and LCR’s Nakagami falling in behind.
German GP winner Marquez was ninth on the new chassis, though did have a scare at the end of the session when he lost the rear of his RC213V coming into the Geert Timmer chicane and was forced to run through the gravel.
Completing the top 10 was the sister Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori, who headed the factory Ducati team pair Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia, with world champion Joan Mir 13th on the Suzuki.
Miguel Oliveira was a low-key 14th on his factory KTM in FP1, with teammate Brad Binder 16th and sandwiching Valentino Rossi on the Petronas SRT Yamaha.
Franco Morbidelli’s injury replacement, Yamaha World Superbike rider Garrett Gerloff, was 2.8s off the pace in last in his first dry MotoGP session after a crash in the second half of the session.
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