Márquez and Morbidelli close to top three in Assen practice

Márquez and Morbidelli close to top three in Assen practice

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Álex Márquez and Franco Morbidelli made a confident start to the Dutch TT in Assen today, with both mounting a strong challenge for the top three in Moto2 practice.

Spanish rider Márquez had a particularly eventful FP2 this afternoon after he’d ended the opening session in an encouraging eighth place.

Márquez was quickly into a fast rhythm in the second session and a lap of 1.38.371 put him into fourth place in the standings. He was only 0.051s behind third place but his attack on the top three came to a premature conclusion when he fell heavily but unhurt at the fast Ramshoek left-hander approaching Assen’s famous final chicane.

Just under 20 minutes of the session remained but Márquez was unable to take any further part in proceedings after his Kalex machine was extensively damaged in the spill. Despite the tumble, Márquez was still able to finish the session in fourth position and confidence remains high that he can challenge for a top six place on the grid in tomorrow’s qualifying session.

Morbidelli had a positive start to round eight of the World Championship and a best lap of 1.38.406 was only 0.035s behind Márquez in a second session that was run in surprisingly warm and dry conditions.

The Italian was a second faster than his personal best set this morning and the second session proved to be another closely fought affair, with just 0.9s splitting the top 15. The most pleasing aspect for Morbidelli on the opening day was a cure for a persistent front-end issue that has hindered him during the last three races.

Álex Márquez 4th 1’38.371
“I want to focus on the positives of today and it was a good day and we improved a lot. I have a really good rhythm with the hard and soft rear tyre options so I know feel really good and confident for tomorrow. It was a shame about the crash because it cost me some valuable time on track but the most important thing is I wasn’t injured. It is a fast corner but my riding equipment did a great job, even though I have to say a few parts of my body were getting a bit warm when I was sliding down the track!”

Franco Morbidelli 1’38.406
“I have never found it easy to be fast at this track, so I am happy to start the weekend inside the top five. I am really happy with the work the team has done today and compared to this morning we were able to make some good improvements that allowed me to be more competitive in FP2. I have had a big problem in the last three races but I am happy to say it is gone and now we can work calmly on the set up without being distracted by the issue that has been bothering me all of the time lately. The issue I’ve had has been with the front-end. And it is great to solve it here because Assen is a very fast and flowing track where you rely on front-end confidence.”

Naoya Kaneko – Álex Márquez Chief Engineer
“Álex felt comfortable with the bike right from the start of first practice this morning and for the whole of FP1 we worked on the hard rear tyre. We also worked on the hard tyre again at the start of FP2 and the lap time was fast and consistent. When he went out to push on the soft tyre his lap time was improving but he had a small issue in the fast turn 15 and he couldn’t react to stop crashing. Assen has a fast and flowing layout and that suits Álex’s riding style and I am sure he can put this crash behind him and be battling close to the front on Sunday.”