For the second weekend in a row MotoGP got up to speed with another Grand Prix event at a historic and busy venue. The TT Circuit Assen – almost 75 years as a motorcycle world championship racing host – was significantly cooler than the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring and also provided a different riding test altogether with the 18 bends and curves sending the Moto3, Moto2™ and MotoGP™ classes flying around the flat course at a terrific rate.
Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee – both fit and gaining in speed with every passing lap – rolled out the FR 250 GPs in the northern Netherlands and had to deal with copious rainfall and some difficult conditions in the first Free Practice sessions on Friday. Both the Japanese and the Scot were able to use their experience to get a feeling for the Assen asphalt and for their first foray with Husqvarna Motorcycle technology on the surface.
On Saturday the two riders entered the Q2 session and a close – and mercifully dry – outing saw the first six rows of the grid split by just over a second. Sasaki was in hot form and his flying effort in the final minute of Q2 gave him his second career Pole Position and his first in Husqvarna Motorcycles colours. McPhee was 11th and only eight tenths of a second slower.
The Moto3 contest was formed by 22 rapid laps on Sunday morning as the rain stayed away and the fans flooded into the grandstands and around the shallow grass banking; so distinctive to this particular track. The Grand Prix was one of the most competitive for the team in recent years as both riders hunted podium results and remained ensconced in the leading troupe. Sasaki, who was so close to another podium result in Germany seven days previously on what was an early return to action from a shoulder injury, hunted the rear wheel of Izan Guevara for the majority of laps and make his move on the final circulation to record his first GP win and the first for the team since the summer of 2021. The luckless McPhee, who had clocked the fastest chrono in the race, crashed out of a potential 3rd place with only half a lap remaining.
Sasaki holds 113 points and has risen to 4th in the standings. He is just two adrift of the top three in the Moto3 championship table. McPhee stays 19th.
MotoGP now pauses for the month of July. The season will resume with the Monster Energy British Grand Prix at Silverstone on the first weekend of August – John McPhee’s home round - and where Husqvarna Motorcycles tasted Moto3 success in 2021.
Ayumu Sasaki: “It took a long time, a lot of training and sacrifice and finally I could win! It’s amazing. This year so far has been difficult, with the injury, but we came back strong and the bike has been very good. It was a great race and I kept behind Izan [Guevara] and had the pace. To win is unbelievable and I want to thank everyone that’s supported me and all my family. Now into the summer break and hopefully the second half of the season will carry on like this and be better than the first.”
John McPhee: “My initial reaction after the crash was one of frustration but having had a little time to reflect and by seeing how strong we were, setting the new lap record and coming through so well we could show we were in the fight for the podium. There were a lot of positives. Obviously huge congratulations to Ayumu and the team and hopefully next time we can both be on the podium together.”
Results – 2022 Moto3 World Championship, Round 11
1. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 37:28.371, 2. Izan Guevara (GASGAS) +0.314, 3. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) +0.392, DNF. John McPhee (Husqvarna)
Moto3 world championship standings
1. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) 182pts, 2. Izan Guevara (GASGAS) 179, 3. Dennis Foggia (Honda) 115. 4. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 113, 19. John McPhee (Husqvarna) 24