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MotoGP 2024: Assen – Unstoppable Pecco

Image source: Ducati

You’d have to say that Pecco Bagnaia is looking in ominously fine form right now, isn’t he? That was a particularly dominant weekend at Assen; never bettered in practice or qualifying, winning the Sprint and Main races as he pleased and setting the fastest lap. Jorge Martin had nothing for him in either race, even though his race time was an incredible 29 seconds faster than in 2023 – Bagnaia’s was over 30 seconds faster. That is a remarkable margin from one year to the next and it makes the decision to move to 850cc engines in 2027 seem like something of a necessity. The speeds can simply not keep rising like this, as exciting as it may be.

Image source: Prima Pramac Racing

The only problem with Assen was that it was a rather processional race and this at a circuit that has given us some cracking races over the course of its history. That makes three consecutive races that haven’t lived up to the promise of the beginning of the season.

The Ducati GP24 has had the chatter gremlins that blighted the early season developed out of it to devastating effect; Bagnaia has won the last three GPs and also the last two Sprint races and that particular double hasn’t been achieved before – Sprint and Main race at consecutive GPs.

Image source: Ducati

What is even more worrying for Bagnaia’s rivals is that he was quick from the get-go on Friday morning whereas, in the past, he has taken time to get up to speed. Martin might still lead the championship but Bagnaia seems to have no chink in his armoury right now.

It really was a weekend of processional racing, with very little of interest going on all the way through, apart from the odd high-speed crash. Should we be worried for the rest of the season? I don’t think so. Martin will bounce back, Marquez will have a day in the sun, as will Acosta, although some of the fire shown at the beginning of the season seems to have gone out of his momentum. You can never discount the VR46 pair, or Bastiannini on the second factory Ducati and the KTMs can spring a surprise when the conditions are right.

Image source: KTM

Even the silly season has died down a little, although the news that Pramac will be running Yamahas for seven years from 2025 was significant enough, the move seemingly prompted in part by the fact that Ducati chose to pass over Martin for the factory seat in favour of Marc Marquez although, in reality, there was a lot more to the decision than just that. That leaves Ducati with ‘only’ six bikes on the grid but it’s hard to see how that will affect them adversely before the big rule change in 2027; less data and feedback, certainly, but six bikes worth of data is still more than any other manufacturer on the grid.

Image source: Ducati

Alex Marquez has signed to stay with Gresini for the next two years and Aleix Espargaro will become Honda’s official test rider from 2026 onward.

The only consolation from Assen is that we only have to wait a week until the next race, which is at the Sachsenring, in Germany. Traditionally a happy hunting ground for Marc Marquez but it’s hard to see any outcome other than a Bagnaia/Martin head-to-head.

Images source: Gresini Racing

We can always hope!

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
From an early age, Harry was obsessed with anything that moved under its own steam, particularly cars and motorcycles. For reasons of a financial nature, his stable of fine automobiles failed to materialise, at which point he realised that motorcycles were far more affordable and so he started his two wheel career, owning, riding, building and fixing many classic bikes. Then came the day when he converted his love of bikes into a living, writing, filming and talking about them endlessly. The passion for four wheels never left him, however, and he has now converted his writing skills into singing the praises of cars in all their infinite variety. Bikes are still his favourite means of getting around but the car in its modern form is reaching a level of perfection that is hard to resist. And they're warmer in winter....
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