The Motul TT Assen provided another sizzling episode of MotoGP Grand Prix action with high speed, high competitiveness and high temperatures marking the eighth round of the series in the Netherlands. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Brad Binder secured a top four finish at the famous TT Circuit Assen course.
For the third weekend in a row MotoGP cranked up the revs and screeched to the limits of race rubber as the series hurried from Italy to Germany and then to the Netherlands to reach round eight of twenty and the final stop before a five-week summer hiatus.
The TT Circuit Assen welcomed sunny skies, warm air and tens of thousands of race fans to the flat, fast and challenging course in the north of the country. Red Bull KTM were primed to contribute to the show as Brad Binder and Jack Miller started 5th and 12th on the grid for the 26-lap outing and after decent showings on Saturday where Binder was close to a podium finish in the Sprint.
The KTM RC16 again leapt away from the grid and Binder immediately sliced into the lead. The South African, who finished 5th at Assen in 2022, led the Grand Prix, battled for the top three the entire distance and, as on Saturday, the slightly touch of track limits on the final lap while striving to secure his second podium of the season meant 3rd place would swiftly become 4th after the flag. Jack Miller had watched the conclusion from his pitbox after a slow speed fall on the second lap had ended his Grand Prix early.
Binder is 4th in the Riders’ championship standings with Miller in 7th. KTM is ranked 2nd in the Constructors table while Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are 4th best in Teams list and with ten other competitors.
MotoGP now breaks for the rest of the month and July. The British Grand Prix at Silverstone at the beginning of August will bring the series back together for the next phase of the calendar.
Brad Binder, 4th: “To be honest, I can deal with this situation but I feel really sorry for my entire team. They did an incredible job all weekend and they gave me a bike that I could qualify really well. My start was insane and, somehow, we made the soft tire work until the end. We should have had two podiums. I don’t know what I was doing but I didn’t even realize I’d touched that area again. Sorry to the team and I will look at the positives of being strong all weekend and in Silverstone we’ll go again.”
Jack Miller, DNF: “Not the way we wanted to finish the first phase of the season. I felt good and got a decent start. I ran deep into Turn 1 on the brakes and tried to pull a tight line to square-up and drive out on the exit but it was a couple of lean degrees too much, too early. We’ll take the positives. The bike was good again here and we fixed the vibration we had from yesterday with just a couple of little changes. It was a big gain. Anyway, two Sprint podiums and a main race podium as well as challenging at the front most of the time: I think it has been good season so far. Looking forward to the next one.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “A great race today from Brad. He made an incredible job: leading, 2nd from mid-distance and always in the top three. He managed the lap-times and the rear tire and unfortunately he touched the green on the last lap. It’s painful to lose the podium again. We paid the same bill at the same corner! It’s something we have to learn for next year. Overall though it was a positive weekend because of our competitiveness. Unfortunately, Jack did not finish the race. He was trying to make a pass with a different line and maybe lacked front grip for that. Anyway, he had recovered his feeling with the bike and that was a decent step. The first part of the season is done and the balance is positive with the riders, the bikes and the team. Everything is under control and now we’re looking forward to Silverstone with confidence.”
Results MotoGP Motul TT Assen
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 40:37.640
2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati +1.223
3. Aleix Espargaro (ESP) Aprilia +1.925
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.528
DNF. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
World championship standings MotoGP
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati, 194 points
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 159
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati, 158
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 114
7. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 79
KTM GP Academy
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü recorded a second podium appearance in a row with 3rd place in Moto3 and after a tense and thrilling contest where ten riders were separated by less than two seconds for most of the 20-lap duration. The Turk attacked and then held his nerve around the chaotic last circulation and picked up a Prosecco bottle for the second time in just seven days.
Teammate Jose Rueda was also part of the group and sealed 6th; only half a second from the winner! The ranking was the third time the rookie has appeared in the top six this season. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado started from the rear half of the grid and in his determination to regain positions made a mistake into Turn 10 on the first lap. The championship leader picked-up and rejoined the action and finished 25th. He was four positions behind teammate Filippo Farioli. Holgado continues to lead the Moto3 standings and has a 16-point cushion.
Deniz Öncü: “A really hard week for me and the team but I’m happy because we knew it would be tough for us here. It is important to close to gap in the championship and to be on the podium is always good.”
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta appeared at Assen for the first time in Moto2 and was part of a race that swung into the favor of several different riders. Acosta had to serve a Long Lap penalty at a late stage of the 22-lap GP chase after a miraculous save into the Geert Timmer chicane meant he ran off track. Despite the setback Acosta launched into a bid for a third consecutive podium and sixth of the season and managed to seize 3rd by just four hundredths of a second. Albert Arenas recorded another top ten classification with 9th.
Acosta is now just 8 points away from the Moto2 championship lead on just his second season in the class.
Pedro Acosta: “The save was quite huge! It was a shame to have a penalty but life is like this. I’m super-happy anyway. This is my first time here in Moto2 and the team worked amazingly. It was a bit on the limit at the end but it was important to get our third podium in a row and points in the championship.”
The Dutch Grand Prix was wrapped by the second race of the 2023 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Runaway leader and standout racer, Angel Piqueras, had triumphed on Saturday and was looking to do the double. The Spaniard saved his calculations until the last lap and the final corners to again triumph The gap was just 0.019 from country Maximo Quiles. The feat was significant as it meant the teenager was able to pocket the ’23 title with two rounds still remaining. The next date for the Rookies comes at the Red Bull Ring in mid-August.
Results Moto3 Motul TT Assen
1. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda 34:14.619
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +0.081
3. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.276
6. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.507
21. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +22.458
25. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1:14.539
World championship standings Moto3
1. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3, 125 points
2. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda, 109
3. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 99
5. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 94
9. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 52
26. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3, 2
Results Moto2 Motul TT Assen
1. Jake Dixon (GBR) 35:43.411
2. Ai Ogura (JPN) +1.334
3. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +4.448
9. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +10.615
World championship standings Moto2
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA), 148 points
2. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 140
3. Jake Dixon (GBR), 104
12. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 41