Viñales vs Quartararo: Yamaha duo bring the heat to Assen

Spaniard and Frenchman are the riders to beat at the Dutch GP so far, but who are their nearest challengers?

It was roles reversed in FP2 at the Motul TT Assen as Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) overhauled FP1 leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) by 0.180 in the afternoon session the end Friday at the top of the timesheets with a 1:32.638.

With perfect conditions welcoming the riders in the afternoon, almost all the riders were able to go quicker in the early stages of FP2 and it was Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso who was the early pacesetter. That was just after Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Andrea Iannone was able to go P1 after finishing FP1 on the fringes of the top ten, the Italian shadowed Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to briefly sit fastest but as usual, Friday’s honours would be decided in the final 10 minutes.

The soft rear tyres were slotted in for every rider bar Marquez and soon enough, Viñales rose to the fore once more – just as he had done for most of FP1 before Quartararo ousted him from top spot. The Spaniard set the first sub-1’33 lap of the weekend before improving once more to get within a whisker of teammate Valentino Rossi’s all-time Assen lap record. A 1:32.638 was enough to beat Quartararo in the second session as the Frenchman could only manage a 1:32.818. The rookie sensation has now finished inside the top two in nine consecutive sessions, but will Viñales vs Quartararo roll on for the rest of the weekend?

Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), as he did in FP1, ended third quickest in the second Free Practice session to sit as Viñales and Quartararo’s nearest challenger. The Italian is 0.314 back from Viñales’ pace, with teammate Dovizioso 0.271 behind his fellow Bologna bullet in fourth as two Ducatis stalk two Yamahas in Assen – Dovi improved from a lowly P13 in FP1.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) slammed in a late personal best lap to go from P9 to P5 as the chequered flag came out for FP2, 0.667 is the gap to Viñales as Rins slips from fourth to fifth from FP1. Iannone’s early time means he holds a provisional Q2 place heading into Saturday morning, it may have been even better for the Italian if a crash at Turn 9 late in the day didn’t arise – rider ok. It’s been a quiet weekend for Marquez so far, the Championship leader lies seventh at the end of Day 1 in the Netherlands after finishing sixth in FP1 – expect the number 93 to come out all guns blazing in FP3.

Late times from both Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) enabled the experienced duo to grab provisional automatic Q2 places in P9 and P10 respectively. Rossi sat outside the top ten for most of the session before going 0.8 off his teammate, The Doctor improving from his P12 in FP1, with Crutchlow sneaking in after finishing 7th in FP1.

Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) has unfortunately been declared unfit for the rest of the weekend after his heavy FP1 crash.

So it’s Yamaha vs Yamaha for top spot so far at the Cathedral of Speed, but who will come out the blocks quickest on Saturday between Viñales and Quartararo? FP3 looks set to be dry so expect everyone to be going flat out for a top ten time. Don’t miss the session that goes live at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) on Saturday morning.

Top 10 combined:
1. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – 1:32.638
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.180
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 0.314
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.585
5. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.667
6. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.717
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.775
8. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.777
9. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.879
10. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 1.089

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