Marco Bezzecchi kept his cool to secure victory in the MotoGP Dutch TT Sprint Race at Assen as he closed his gap to Pecco Bagnaia in the overall standings.
The Italian composed himself after being hung out wide on the outside of the Turn 1/2 complex, but after slipping to third initially, he swiftly picked off Brad Binder and then Bagnaia before going on to keep his rivals at arm's length to the flag.
In second, Bagnaia extended his championship lead, with he and Bezzecchi being joined in the top three celebrations by Fabio Quartararo.
His first trip to the 'podium' in the Sprint Race this season, the Yamaha rider ultimately benefited from a post-race penalty for Binder, who was hit with three-second penalty for exceeding track limits on the penultimate lap, demoting him from third to fifth.
Bezzecchi close to a perfect MotoGP weekend
In what has been an utterly dominant showing by the sophomore rider this weekend having topped all three Practice sessions and secured pole position by a comfortable margin, Bezzecchi had the unusual honour of being almost odds on favourite coming into the Sprint Race, despite the presence of defending champion Bagnaia alongside him on the front row.
Despite this, Bezzecchi got a strong getaway from the lights, but with Bagnaia also quick off the line, the VR46 Ducati rider's outside line through Turn 1 saw him eased out onto the kerb on the exit by his countryman.
It allowed Bagnaia to grab the early lead, with the fast-starting Binder filing in ahead of Bezzecchi, to push him down to third.
Nevertheless, Bezzecchi quickly collected himself, latching back onto Binder as the South African worked hard to find a gap on Bagnaia for the lead.
The KTM rider's victory aspirations would only last as long as lap two though, Bezzecchi easing through into second place to begin the chase to Bagnaia, now half-a-second up the road.
A measure of Bezzecchi's superior speed around Assen this weekend, it took him little more than a lap to reach the rear-end of the Ducati GP23 and only one more to plant his pass for the lead via some close quarters racing through Turns 3 and 4, before winning the drag race up to Ruskenhoek.
From here Bezzecchi wasn't troubled, extending his advantage out before easing back in the closing stages. He'd eventually take the +1.2secs clear of Bagnaia, while the fastest lap means he is just a win and a quick lap shy of a rare perfect weekend.
Giving his title aspirations a welcome - albeit small - boost following a tough German MotoGP, Bezzecchi remains third overall, 31 points behind Bagnaia, who otherwise limited the damage to his advantage in second, extending his margin over Jorge Martin to 21 points after the Spaniard could only manage sixth.
Behind them, Binder looked set to be rewarded for his staunch defence of third from a frisky Quartararo, only to learn once he'd crossed the line that he'd copped a three second penalty for too many track limit violations.
A tough decision, which occurred in the final sector of the penultimate lap, the penalty demoted him from third to fifth in the classification, promoting a delighted Quartararo, who consolidated his strongest weekend of the season thus far with an increasingly rare top three finish for Yamaha.
Also benefiting from Binder's penalty was Aleix Espargaro, who was the fastest rider in the closing stages as he worked to close the gap to the front having fought his way to the head of a busy mid-pack.
After a crash in qualifying left him tenth on the grid, Martin looked to be making quick gains early on as he quickly hauled himself into fifth place and on the tail of the podium battle. However, he'd begin fading mid-race before being overtaken by Espargaro, leaving him sixth at the flag.
Maverick Vinales scored his best result since Round 3 in Texas with a run to seventh, while Enea Bastianini was rewarded with a hard fought eighth place finish, the Italian having started down in 18th after being caught up in a collision with Marc Marquez in qualifying.
Alex Marquez picked up the final point at the expense of Luca Marini, who was another to receive a post-race penalty for corner cutting. The front row starter endured a tough race as he slipped back down the order before his late mistake cost him points for eighth, the Italian instead classified tenth.
Elsewhere, Jack Miller couldn't make progress from starting on row four en route to 11th, while Johann Zarco regularly found himself losing out in the thick of the action, the Frenchman eventually landing in 12th.
He fared better than Miguel Oliveira though, the Portuguese rider getting stuck in on lap one before being forced off-track in typical mid-pack fracas, dropping him to the back of the field. He eventually finished 19th.
Meanwhile, Marc Marquez showed strongly initially after surging from 17th to 11th at one stage on lap one, before eventually fading to a distant 17th at the flag.
MotoGP Dutch TT Assen | SPRINT RACE RESULTS
|2023 MotoGP Dutch TT | Assen, Netherlands | SPRINT RACE Results | Round 8 of 20|
|1||Marco Bezzecchi||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||13 Laps|
|2||Pecco Bagnaia||ITA||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||+1.294|
|3||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+1.187|
|4||Aleix Espargaro||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+2.245|
|5||Brad Binder||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+4.582 *|
|6||Jorge Martin||ESP||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+5.036|
|7||Maverick Vinales||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+5.876|
|8||Enea Bastianini||ITA||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||+10.102|
|9||Alex Marquez||ESP||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||+10.525|
|10||Luca Marini||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+10.556 **|
|11||Jack Miller||AUS||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+11.191|
|12||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||+11.473|
|13||Johann Zarco||FRA||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+15.439|
|14||Augusto Fernandez||ESP||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+17.754|
|15||Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+19.508|
|16||Lorenzo Savadori||ITA||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+19.664|
|17||Marc Marquez||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+19.916|
|18||Raul Fernandez||ESP||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+20.583|
|19||Miguel Oliveira||POR||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+24.269|
|20||Iker Lecuona||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+24.727|
|21||Jonas Folger||GER||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+32.056|
|22||Stefan Bradl||GER||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||+35.372|
|DNF||Fabio di Giannantonio||ITA||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22|
|* Brad Binder - Long Lap Penalty 3secs time penalty applied [demoted from 3rd to 5th]|
|** Luca Marini - 1.5secs time penalty applied for cutting final chicane [demoted from 8th to 10th]|