3 Things We Learned From the MotoGP Dutch TT

Francesco Bagnaia obliterated the MotoGP field for three straight days in the Netherlands, but there was more to the weekend than just that

Francesco Bagnaia, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose
Francesco Bagnaia, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose

A weekend which saw all the meaningful sessions topped by the same rider could be written off as one to forget in MotoGP, but the 2024 Dutch TT offered multiple talking points.

From speed to contracts, and predictability giving hope of unpredictability, these are our three main takeaways from MotoGP’s 2024 trip to Assen.

Everybody wins

Franco Morbidelli, Alex Rins, 2024 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas. - Gold and Goose
Franco Morbidelli, Alex Rins, 2024 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas. - Gold and Goose

Only two people found themselves atop a timesheet in the premier class at Assen. Francesco Bagnaia finished fastest in all three practice sessions, Q2, the Sprint, and the main race, while Fabio Di Giannantonio topped Q1 and Warm Up. Not to hate on Diggia, but the only time Bagnaia wasn’t fastest last weekend was when he either wasn’t in a session or the session was essentially irrelevant.

But while the times were dominated by one rider, the story that broke on Friday, that Yamaha had brought in Pramac Racing to run its satellite team from 2025, was a win for everyone.

First, Yamaha gets a satellite team that it has missed since 2022. Second, Pramac gets — reportedly — a pretty big payday. Third, both of the Pramac Yamaha seats are up for grabs next year as Jorge Martin is going to Aprilia and Franco Morbidelli has already been through his Yamaha ordeal.

Okay, so there is a loser. Morbidelli is now essentially jobless (even if he is pretty much guaranteed to be given the seat vacated at VR46 by Marco Bezzecchi), and Ducati also lose, because it will have fewer bikes on the grid next year and therefore less data which has been a key part of its MotoGP success. But Ducati’s loss is also a gain for the championship, because it means there will be more mechanical variety in the top positions.

Not as simple as it looks

Marc Marquez leads Maverick Vinales, Fabio Di Giannantonio, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose
Marc Marquez leads Maverick Vinales, Fabio Di Giannantonio, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose

Marc Marquez signed for Gresini Ducati to win the championship, but somehow it isn’t quite happening yet. 

Things started well in the test last year and it’s hard to say things are going badly when he’s almost always the only rider on a Desmosedici GP23 to be anywhere near the GP24s. 

Assen was different, though, as for the first time since Portimao he didn’t have the pace to challenge for the podium.

The issue for Marquez was managing front tyre pressure. His crew chief, Frankie Carchedi, has mentioned several times this year, both in interviews and in social media posts, that setting the bike up for Marquez this year is complicated by Marquez’ riding style and the lack of time he has spent on the Ducati.

Marc Marquez, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose
Marc Marquez, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose

This was made especially evident in Assen, when Marquez crashed out of the Sprint on lap two and lost all the data that would have been gained in the remaining 11 laps had he completed them. As a result, there was even more guesswork than usual in setting Marquez’ tyre pressures for the Sunday race, and he was too low to run alone in the end. He waved Di Giannantonio by to keep his tyre warm and pumped-up, only to be pushed wide by Enea Bastianini and forced back into clean air which deflated and cooled it. He gained a 16-second penalty, in the end, for narrowly breaching the tyre pressure rules (by 0.01 bar for one lap, according to Marquez), which cost him seven points by dropping him from fourth to 10th.

While the reigning champion, Bagnaia, and current points leader, Martin, were out front dominating, Marquez battling for the wooden spoon at a circuit where he’s won twice in the premier class. Now 58 points behind Martin, and 48 behind in-form Bagnaia, the 2024 title certainly isn’t going to hand itself on a plate to Marquez.

On the other hand, MotoGP heads to the Sachsenring this weekend…

A sign of things to come

Francesco Bagnaia, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose
Francesco Bagnaia, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose

It would be unfair to write 1,000 words about the 2024 Dutch TT and dedicate none of them to the brilliance of Francesco Bagnaia. He led every session bar Q1 and the Warm Up, he led every lap of the Sprint, every lap of the TT, and set the fastest lap in both. He was on another level all weekend, and it was his best to date in the premier class.

Although last weekend was the first time Bagnaia had topped the first session on Friday in his MotoGP career, it was not the first time he had set pole position, won both races with the fastest lap, and led every lap. He also achieved that in Austria last year, which, perhaps ominously for Bagnaia, came one round before the Catalan Grand Prix where his title challenge was almost totally derailed.

Francesco Bagnaia leads Jorge Martin, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose
Francesco Bagnaia leads Jorge Martin, 2024 MotoGP Dutch TT. - Gold and Goose

Ignoring similarities with the past, Bagnaia’s form in Assen was striking. For once, he was able to hit the ground running from Friday morning, and not spend the weekend catching up. By Sunday, no one was close to the reigning champion, who has reduced his deficit to championship leader Jorge Martin by 34 points in the five races after Catalan Sprint crash, since when he has been undefeated.

Right now, Bagnaia looks unbeatable, but Martin did just that at the Sachsenring last year, and in both races. More than half the season still remains, and it’s Martin who, despite Bagnaia’s winning run, remains in control of the championship at this stage.

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