The Frenchman, who arrives in Assen with a 34-point advantage over second overall in MotoGP, is looking to take advantage of another of his favorite scenarios
The Motorcycle World Championship has passed its halfway point and now reaches the test prior to the start of a five-week summer break generated in the calendar after the cancellation of the Finnish Grand Prix, initially scheduled for the weekend of July 10. For many pilots, a desired rest, after a start of the year that the transfer market has stressed excessively. This period of inactivity will also be a good thing for Pedro Acosta, who this Thursday underwent surgery in Barcelona for the femur fracture he suffered while practicing motocross in Murcia on Tuesday. And the mythical Assen circuit receives the competitors with the threat of a lot of rain for Friday, although with a weather that should improve as the days go by.
A relief for the once again great favorite for victory, the MotoGP leader Fabio Quartararo. Although the Frenchman has improved in his driving on the wet (he finished second in the Indonesian test under a heavy downpour), the confidence with which he is facing this part of the season makes him prefer to compete on a dry track in a setting where he already won in 2021. That day Quartararo increased his advantage in the general classification over the one who was second, his compatriot Johann Zarco, who had finished fourth; with another positive sign, the second place of his teammate at the time, Maverick Viñales, who had also signed the pole.
“It has been a year to learn, learn not to give up and work very hard,” Viñales reflected on one of the turning points of his 2021. It was a few days after finishing second in the Netherlands, during the summer, when the Catalan announced that he was not going to continue in 2022 at Yamaha; in Austria, at the next grand prix, everything blew up. The Japanese house fired him and in a few weeks Aprilia opened its doors to him. «Not everything is given. Until today I have given my best every day, in the gym, at home, with my family, with each person I have a relationship with… When I left Assen 2021 I promised myself that I would return to number 1”, he acknowledged , after appearing at the Sachsenring for the first time in the front positions of a race. He started ninth, was aggressive in the first laps, and in no time was at the wheel of his teammate Aleix Espargaró fighting for third place. Until his bike had a technical problem that forced him to retire.
In any case, a clue to the chances of a driver who has won three times at Assen, with seven podiums in total. “It can come here in Assen… it can come in Silverstone, or it can come in the race that I least expect, because Sachsenring was not a circuit where I thought I could and I was going for it. You have to be open-minded and ready for the opportunity », Viñales accepted about his options on a track where his teammate already showed up last year.
The threat of Aleix Espargaró
And it is that once again it is Aleix Espargaró who aspires to be the leader’s strongest rival, although in the last two races he has escaped: in Catalonia and in Germany Quartararo won, while his Aprilia lost a second place in that first Sunday to finish fifth, while in the second he could only be fourth. Some results that have changed the face of competitiveness in the category and that have left, now, the current champion as the clear favorite.
When 2022 began, the list of candidates obviously included Quartararo, but also Marc Márquez, sidelined due to an operation, Joan Mir, immersed in a crisis of results (ninth overall, 103 points behind the first), and Pecco Bagnaia, who has ‘added’ three zeros in the last five races, which has moved him up to 91 points from a driver who has three drivers behind him that no one would have bet on at the start of the year: the aforementioned Espargaró, Johann Zarco (who has been fifth, fourth, third and second in the last four Grands Prix) and Enea Bastianini, who despite adding three victories this year, is showing a line too inconsistent to keep a rider awake at night, Quartararo, who in Assen could have his final shuttle to retain his crown.