Morbidelli enjoys Dutch domination on day one in Assen
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider and Moto2 World Championship leader Franco Morbidelli roared back to his best form on the opening day of practice at the legendary Assen track.
Off the podium in the previous two races, Morbidelli’s response was an emphatic one, as he comfortably headed the combined standings on a dry but cool start to action ahead of the historic Dutch TT on Sunday.
Fifth fastest in the morning session with a lap of 1’38.942, the Italian charger seized the initiative in FP2, and a much faster lap of 1’38.061 meant Morbidelli claimed top spot by 0.155s from 2016 Dutch TT winner Takaaki Nakagami.
Just over 0.3s behind Morbidelli in fourth place was in-form teammate Álex Márquez, who is riding better than at any stage in his Moto2 career following a dominant win from pole position at the previous round in Barcelona.
A crash at the famous final chicane in Assen this morning could have dented the Spaniard’s high confidence, but he was typically resolute to mount a serious challenge for the top three in both of today’s 45-minute sessions.
Márquez and his crew have identified rear grip as the key area to improve for tomorrow and weather permitting he is hoping to evaluate planned set-up modifications in FP3 to challenge Morbidelli’s opening day authority.
Franco Morbidelli: 1st – 1’38.061
“I am very happy with today’s performance and immediately I felt stronger and more competitive than in Mugello and Barcelona. The important thing will be to keep our focus because I was fastest on the first day in Barcelona and from that point I struggled to have the pace to be fighting for the podium. I’m already fast but we can’t relax. There is still a lot of work to be done but we must wait and see what will happen with the weather tomorrow. We know the weather can be unpredictable and changing very quickly in Assen, but all we can do is check what is happening when we wake up.”
Álex Márquez: 4th – 1’38.380
“I’m not completely happy today, even though my rhythm was quite strong. I need to find more pace on new tyres, which will obviously be important for qualifying and the start of the race. One key area to improve as well will be grip from the rear tyre. I’m not stressing the rear tyre enough and that means we are missing some grip. The crash at the chicane was not ideal this morning but I have to thank my team because they did an amazing job to get my bike fixed and ready again for the second session.”
Naoya Kaneko: Álex Márquez Crew Chief
“The last race in Catalunya required a special set-up because of the demanding layout and the extreme heat but here in Assen we need to return more to our base setting from the earlier part of the season. It is very clear where we have to improve by getting more rear grip, and that will be our key focus for tomorrow.”