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Bagnaia vs Oliveira: the battle continues

A 16-point gap opened up in favour of the Italian at Assen, but Oliveira remains firmly in the hunt ahead of the German GP

The Dutch GP had the potential to change the momentum of Moto2™ World Championship, and that’s exactly what it did.

Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) leaves Assen with a 16-point advantage after a perfect weekend on Dutch soil, with rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) crossing the line sixth after the KTM’s qualifying struggles continued.

DutchGP: Moto2™ Full Race

Although he lost some ground the Championship, the Portuguese rider wasn’t completely disappointed with his weekend in the Netherlands, despite the worrying Saturday afternoon pace which saw him start from P17 for a second race in a row.

“Yeah it was an understanding weekend for us, we tried many solutions to solve our problems in qualifying and also understand how to use the bike better in the race,” explained the number 44. “I’m not completely disappointed about the result because it was the best we could do today, but for sure I’m positive about the future and I know what the team is fully focused about getting a good solution for me, we take more points in the championship and we go to Sachsenring really hoping to work hard and solve the problems.”

Looking ahead, Oliveira was second over the line in Germany last season on the KTM, finishing just 0.066 behind winner Franco Morbidelli with Bagnaia another half a second back. Can he go one better this year? “Well last year we were quite competitive, so I expect the same this year.”

With only 16 points separating the Portuguese rider with the Italian, the Sachsening will provide another chance for either rider to strengthen their position in the overall standings. Bagnaia is the man that has the advantage as things stand after his dream weekend at Assen. 

“It’s been a very positive weekend for us because from the first session we were fast and I feel very comfortable with my bike on this track because all the corners are fast corners and for me it’s very sweet for my riding style,” commented the 21-year-old. “Arriving here with just one point was difficult and we knew here it was important to arrive in front of Miguel and Alex. But I have seen in qualifying that the KTM is in difficulty I think, I was just thinking to win the race today because we demonstrated that we were fast, it was important to arrive in front of him, we made it and this is the most important thing for today.”

Likewise to his main Championship rival, Bagnaia was competitive last year in Germany and is looking to achieve another good result at the venue. “I arrive in Sachsenring with positive vibes because last year I made third and it was positive,” said the four-time 2018 race winner. “This year we are faster than last year for sure and we arrive 16 points ahead of Miguel and on a track that I like so this is very important. Also, KTM at the Sachsenring will go very fast, so it will be important for us to not lose points like in Barcelona.”

Both Bagnaia and Oliveira will be looking to stand on the top step at the Sachsenring, so can we expect to see an on-track title tussle in Germany?