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29 days ago

Binder leads into Assen as Navarro suffers injury

Jorge Navarro broke Brad Binder’s win streak, but the South African remains top of the pile as the Spaniard suffers injury.

For the first time in his career Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took to the top step of the podium. In 2015 he came tantalisingly close to taking a career first podium in Assen, missing out by only 0.062s after a frantic last lap. Navarro’s win closed the gap to Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by five points, but there’s still over 40 points splitting the two. Unfortunately ahead of the race Navarro suffered a broke left tibia and fibula in a training accident, ruling him out of at least the race in Assen. FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship points leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta will substitute for Navarro.

Oliveira takes incredible Moto3™ victory

In 2015 Assen produced a classic race, the top seven within half a second of each other. Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM Ajo bike managed to edge out Fabio Quartararo, then on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda, by a mere 0.066s. Those top seven were truly in a class of their own in Assen, five of the top seven still racing in the class in 2016. Many of the front-runners may still be the same but Assen itself will be distinctly different in 2016 as the Motul TT Assen will run on a Sunday for the first time.

Were it not for contact with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) towards the end of the race in Barcelona, Binder is confident he could have battled for the win. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Binder made it 12 races in a row where the lightweight class pole setter has been unable to claim victory. Even on tricky weekends the South African is able to take to the podium, a worrying fact for his rivals. After seven rounds Binder holds a 44-point lead, the biggest in the three classes.

Luis Salom’s racing career

The Catalan GP was a tough weekend for everyone in the paddock after the loss of Luis Salom. Binder and his Red Bull KTM Ajo team were hit particularly hard, Binder having ridden alongside Salom in his rookie season and the Ajo squad having helped him challenge for the title in 2013. With nine wins, Salom remains as the most successful Moto3™ rider since the class began in 2012.

Now 17 points behind Navarro and 67 back on Binder, third in the championship is starting to look like a very lonely place for Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46). A 20th in Argentina and a DNF in Mugello have put a serious dent into his championship campaign. The Italian has only once finished in the top ten in Assen, when he battled with the likes of Navarro to fifth in 2015. With Navarro missing out on at least Assen, there is a huge opportunity for Fenati to step up to the plate and make Binder work for the title.

His teammate Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) remains within striking distance, 14 points behind Fenati.

Of the top ten in the standings, five are Italians. Behind the SKY Racing Team VR46 duo an increasingly tight battle for fifth is emerging. Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) currently hanging on to fifth spot with 54 points. Mahindra have a tendency to go well in Assen, Miguel Oliveira taking third there in 2014 and fourth the year before.

Bagnaia will have to work hard as fellow Italians Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) are both within five points. Antonelli’s season is yet to stabilise after a number of crashes while Bastianini’s continues on an upward trend. ‘The Beast’ was back up the front in Barcelona, snagging third and his first podium since winning in Misano in 2015.

The Dutch TT in 2015 was the last time Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) stepped on the podium, injuries late in the season preventing him from battling again. His start to the 2016 championship has been plagued with issues but the French rider heads for Assen more determined than ever after three top tens.

11th place in Catalunya stands as Bo Bendsneyder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) best result since joining the World Championship. As the only Dutch rider in any of the three classes, the Motul TT Assen is set to be a big weekend for the reigning Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup Champion. Can he crack the top ten at home?

Full last lap from nail-biting Moto3™ race

Relive the hard fought and emotional Catalan GP.