The Championship Leaders Collide at MotoGP's Dutch TT

Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo nearly collected Aprilia's Aleix Espargaró during an intense race at Assen

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Photo: Vincent Jannink/ANP/AFP (Getty Images)

This weekend, The FIM MotoGP World Championship made its annual pilgrimage to Assen, the Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing. This year’s Dutch TT did not disappoint and provided the quality of racing that earned the circuit its moniker. The race was a frantic crash and pass-filled struggle that will play a significant role in determining this year’s world champion.

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia won pole position on Saturday, his fourth of the season. For Sunday, Bagnaia and his teammate Jack Miller elected to start the race with the soft compound front tires. Ducati has struggled with tire wear so far this season. Over the past five races, Bagnaia won two races and crashed out of the other three rounds.

At the race start, Francesco Bagnaia had a good launch off the line and was the first rider through the first corner. Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was able to get along the outside of the Ducati from second place on the grid, but he pushed his bike wide off the track. This error brought the Yamaha rider within the grasp of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaró, who passed him a few corners later.

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Laps later, Quartararo dropped his bike while aggressively attempting to retake second place through turn 5. As he slid across the pavement, his Yamaha made contact with Aleix Espargaró on his outside. Espargaro was able to keep his Aprilia upright through the gravel trap, but he was plunged down the running order to 15th.

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Fabio Quartaro was able to climb back onto his YZR-M1, and he rode into the pit lane to retire. Yamaha decided against retiring and sent the reigning world champion back out on track. Later on, Quartararo would crash again in turn 5. He high-sided his bike while exiting the corner and was violently thrown through the air. The first crash had damaged a traction control sensor on his Yamaha. Quartararo was able to get up under his own power. Though, he was limping after the high-side and visibly angry with his situation.

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As Francesco Bagnaia crossed the finish line to win the Dutch TT, Aleix Espargaró was still hungry to salvage as many points as possible. By the start of the final lap, the Aprilia rider was in seventh place. Espargaró got past Jorge Martín for sixth place and sat behind Jack Miller and KTM’s Brad Miller. The Aprilia rider threw his bike up the inside of both riders as they entered the final corner, stealing fourth place with the brilliant maneuver.

Race Results - Top 15

  1. Francesco Bagnaia
  2. Marco Bezzecchi
  3. Maverick Viñales
  4. Aleix Espargaró
  5. Brad Binder
  6. Jack Miller
  7. Jorge Martín
  8. Joan Mir
  9. Miguel Oliveira
  10. Álex Rins
  11. Enea Bastianini
  12. Takaaki Nakagami
  13. Johann Zarco
  14. Fabio Di Giannantonio
  15. Álex Márquez

Fabio Quartaro leads the World Riders’ Championship by 21 points over Aleix Espargaró. MotoGP will return in six weeks for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.