MotoGP Assen: Fabio Quartararo penalised for incident with Aleix Espargaro
Fabio Quartararo will have to serve a long lap penalty at Silverstone as punishment for his collision with Aleix Espargaro during Sunday’s Dutch TT at Assen.
The championship leader attempted a move down the inside of his closest title rival at turn five on the fifth lap, but lost the front of his Yamaha M1 and ran into Espargaro.
Both riders went into the gravel, however Espargaro managed to keep his Aprilia upright and re-joined the race in 15th – over eight seconds behind leader, Francesco Bagnaia. Remarkably, Espargaro produced a stunning comeback to finish fourth (+2.585s), overtaking Brad Binder and Jack Miller at the final chicane on the last lap.
Quartararo’s bike sustained some damage, but he also re-joined at the back of the pack. The Frenchman returned to pit-lane a few laps later, but was sent back out by the Monster Energy Yamaha team – a decision later questioned by Quartararo – and suffered a second crash at the Strubben corner.
The reigning champion was thrown over the front of his bike, landing awkwardly on his neck and shoulder. Thankfully, he was declared fit following a visit to the medical centre, but was later hit with a penalty for the original incident.
“The FIM MotoGP™ Stewards panel deemed Quartararo was overly ambitious in attempting to overtake A Espargaro. #20 was not in a position to successfully complete the move and subsequently crashed, causing contact with #41 and forcing him to run wide,” the official MotoGP statement said.
“The avoiding action undertaken by A Espargaro allowed him to avoid crashing and re-join. Nevertheless, his race was severely impacted.
“Quartararo has been given a Long Lap penalty to be served in the MotoGP™ race at the Monster Energy British Grand Prix.”
The decision by the FIM MotoGP Stewards to punish Quartararo has again raised questions regarding their decision-making. In similar incidents this season, Jack Miller crashed into Joan Mir at turn one at Portimao but was not handed a penalty, whilst Bagnaia wasn’t punished for hitting Jorge Martin at turn one in Qatar.
Takaaki Nakagami escaped a penalty for running into Alex Rins and Bagnaia at the start of the race in Barcelona, causing Rins to break his wrist as a result. Nakagami was also involved in an incident with Rins at Mugello but wasn’t penalised.
The Dutch TT was Quartararo’s first DNF of the season and his first since Valencia last season. Espargaro’s sensational fightback means that the Spaniard is now only 21 points behind Quartararo heading into the five-week summer break.
With Quartararo now forced to take a long lap penalty at the British Grand Prix, the trip to Silverstone could present Espargaro with the perfect opportunity to reduce the deficit further.
Bagnaia won the race at Assen after being left unchallenged due to the Quartararo-Espargaro clash. Marco Bezzecchi clinched his maiden MotoGP podium in second, whilst Maverick Vinales secured his first podium with Aprilia in third. It’s Vinales’ first podium since the 2021 Dutch TT.