Motorcycle Racing

The inverse Marquez trait that helped Bagnaia’s Assen MotoGP domination

Bagnaia utterly dominated the Dutch GP weekend and was only headed in the inconsequential warm-up

Francesco Bagnaia’s double victory at the Italian Grand Prix topped the MotoGP news cycle for all of about 12 hours before Ducati enacted rider market madness. From the moment Autosport first reported Marc Marquez had been given the nod for the factory team, all discussion has been around the dynamics within the Italian manufacturer surrounding a decision that was always going to rankle the Bagnaia camp.

Bagnaia put up a good front across the Assen round as he brushed away questions asking for his thoughts on this and how his domination of both races must have been a nice ego boost given the preceding discourse over his incoming team-mate. Clearly, though, the 2024 Dutch Grand Prix was a statement from the reigning double world champion.

For the first time in his MotoGP career, Bagnaia topped the opening practice of a weekend. Usually under the radar on Fridays, he set his stall out early, before in the second session setting a new lap record.

He topped final practice on Saturday morning, before taking pole with another new lap record of 1m30.540s – a lap he was so confident in that he bailed into his pits with several minutes left in the Q2 session. He led every lap of the 13-tour sprint to beat Jorge Martin by 2.355s and did the same in the 26-lap grand prix to beat the championship leader by 3.676s.

At no point was Bagnaia anything but impressive at Assen. He took fastest lap in the sprint and set the best lap of the grand prix six times – the latter, a 1m31.866s, coming 12 laps in. It was with the setting of this lap that Bagnaia brought his lead over Martin to over a second for the first time and it would never again shrink below this.

The only ‘blot’ on his copybook came in the 10-minute warm-up session, topped by Fabio Di Giannantonio. But that mattered little as he romped to a third-successive Dutch GP victory – becoming the first rider to do so since Mick Doohan in the late 1990s.

Bagnaia utterly dominated the Dutch GP weekend and was only headed in the inconsequential warm-up

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“It’s a really great moment,” Bagnaia said when asked if he feared mistakes on a weekend in which he was being pegged as the rider to beat. “But also in 2021, last part of the season, 2022 in the middle of the season, last year at the start.

“Many times it happened to me that I was feeling fantastic with the bike. Any moment I think I know perfectly our potential, I know…

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