Brad Binder in the lead of a dramatic Moto2 race. Picture: REUTERS
Brad Binder in the lead of a dramatic Moto2 race. Picture: REUTERS

In a day of the the underdogs, SA’s Brad Binder scored a season-best second place in the Moto2 class at the Dutch TT at Assen on Sunday, while Spaniard Maverick Vinales won for Yamaha’s first MotoGP win of the year.

Binder, riding a Red Bull KTM Ajo which had performed under par all season, qualified in second place and grabbed the holeshot off the line to lead a dramatic race in which a number of riders crashed out, including pole-sitter Remy Gardner.

For most of the race the South African stayed in front of a closely stacked six-rider tussle and fought off several challenges to his lead.

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Points leader Alex Marquez, brother of MotoGP champion Marc, eventually got past Binder on lap 20 but it was short-lived when an overtaking attempt by Lorenzo Baldassarri saw him lose the front end and take out both riders.

Fernandez took the lead and held on for his maiden victory, while Binder hung on to finish second, just 0.6sec behind, to claim his first podium of the season and move up to eighth in the championship.

Luca Marini completed the podium, and SA rider Steven Odendaal was 16th.

In the MotoGP race, Honda’s world champion, Marc Marquez, settled for second behind Vinales to extend his MotoGP lead to 44 points.

Maverick Vinales sips the winner’s champagne with second placed Marc Marquez looking on. Picture: REUTERS
Maverick Vinales sips the winner’s champagne with second placed Marc Marquez looking on. Picture: REUTERS

French rookie Fabio Quartararo, who started on pole position for the second race in a row, finished third for the Petronas Yamaha team.

“Assen is one of the tracks I like more on the calendar,” said Vinales, whose last win was in Australia last October. “Right now I am living my dream because it’s been such a long period without victory.”

Marquez now has 160 points to 116 for Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who finished fourth for Ducati, after eight of 19 races won by four manufacturers.

“We knew that the Yamaha was very strong already in practice,” said Marquez, who recognised Vinales was faster but stuck with him as long as he could before easing off.

“This is like a victory. We increased the advantage of the championship, this is the most important. And in a circuit where we struggle, we were there.”

Italian great Valentino Rossi, Vinales’s teammate, crashed out after four laps after tangling with Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami. Neither were injured.

“It was my mistake. It was also a quite big crash,” said Rossi.

Suzuki riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir led into the first corner, with Vinales also ahead of Quartararo, who had arm surgery at the beginning of June and was not helped by his bike’s handling.

Rins slid out on lap three, with Mir leading until Quartararo again hit the front, with Marquez between the two Yamaha team riders.

Vinales took the lead with 11 laps to go, with the two Spaniards close together before the Yamaha rider pulled clear to win by 4.8 seconds.

The next race is the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring on July 7.