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Bagnaia sets new lap record at 'Cathedral' in Dutch MotoGP qualifying

Bagnaia in action at the Dutch MotoGP
Bagnaia in action at the Dutch MotoGPAFP
Double world champion Francesco Bagnaia (27) stuck his marker in the sand at the start of the Dutch MotoGP weekend, setting a new track record in qualifying on Friday.

Looking for a hat-trick win after claiming top podium spots at Catalunya and Mugello, Bagnaia broke the lap record clocked by fellow Italian rider Marco Bezzecchi in Assen last year.

With his best time of 1:31.340sec, Bagnaia on a factory Ducati, led the way from veteran rider Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) and Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing Ducati).

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), suffered a heavy crash in the latter stages of Friday's qualifying race, but was still fourth-fastest in his last-ever outing at Assen.

Series leader Jorge Martin posted the fifth-fastest time - two spots behind the season's current third-placed and fellow Spanish rider Marquez.

The top 10 riders booked their place in Saturday's second qualifying session.

This group, which determines the first four rows of the grid, are joined by the two fastest riders from Q1.

Ahead of Saturday's sprint and Sunday's main event Bagnaia, second in the standings, is closing the gap with current leader Martin who is just 18 points ahead on 171.

Marquez is placed third, trailing 17 points behind Bagnaia, before this eighth round of the season.

Bagnaia, winner last weekend in Mugello, is seeking a third straight win at the "Cathedral".

Bagnaia won at Assen in 2022 and 2023, becoming the first to do so since his Italian compatriot and mentor Valentino Rossi claimed back-to-back victories here in 2004-2005.

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