Dutch Downpour Dampens Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Efforts
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo, who struggled in the first unpredictable race at the TT Assen, took the second chance with both hands today and secured tenth position. Teammate Valentino Rossi was riding impressively at the start of the 12-lap sprint this afternoon and was looking to win the race until a crash at turn ten meant the end of his challenge.
Dramatic rainfall at the TT Circuit Assen played a big role in the proceedings today. As the first race was red flagged due to weather conditions after lap 14, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had to go out for a 12-lap dash. Lorenzo rode a steady race to claim six vital points for the championship. Rossi was unlucky to get caught out by the extremely wet conditions and was unable to complete the race.
There was uncertainty before the start of the TT Assen, as black clouds were looming threateningly above the riders' heads on the starting grid. Jorge Lorenzo had a brilliant start the first time round, moving up from tenth to fifth in the first couple of corners. However, not being able to keep the pace at the front in the treacherous conditions, he made his Yamaha as wide as possible to defend his position but was unable to find a good feeling and held 19th place when the race was red flagged.
The race was restarted at 15:02 with the starting grid being based on the position the riders held on the lap 14 standings. Having to commence the 12-lap dash from the seventh row on the grid, Lorenzo also fought bravely during the second part of the race. Similar to the first outing, he had a great start and was able to move up several positions to 13th by the end of the first lap. Though he couldn't keep up the momentum, he pushed as hard as he could without crossing the limit and took tenth place over the line.
Teammate Rossi had a good start in the first part of race from second place on the grid and took the lead coming out of the first corner. He was quick to find a good rhythm, but remained cautious. He kept a steady pace but had to let Yonny Hernandez and Andrea Dovizioso come through as he was trying to get a feel for the monsoon-like conditions. He later regained second place when Hernandez crashed out and at that point Rossi decided it was time to put the hammer down and closed back in to Dovizioso whilst being followed by Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding. What followed was a tense battle between the top four riders, but it was cut short when the race was red flagged.
Rossi again had a good start the second time round, this time from third position, and was lying in second place after turn one. A lap later he was in the lead and soon opened up a gap of over two seconds to his closest rival, until he was caught out by the rain on lap three and unable to continue the race.
With a tenth place Lorenzo scores six points and is now 24 points behind Marc Marquez whilst holding second place in the championship standings. Rossi remains third in the rankings, 18 points behind his teammate.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Unfortunately it was clear at the start of the race that the weather would be a big factor today. As always the team worked hard to give both Vale and Jorge the best possible set up for the race, but none of the practice sessions were as wet as it was today. With the weather changing every couple of minutes it was a real gamble for the riders to decide how hard they could push. Jorge struggled to find a good feeling in the wet and did the best with what he had and has been able to take home some important points. Vale did well in the first race and also excelled at the restart of the race, despite the chaos. It was a real pity that he wasn't able to finish the race, because he has been strong in all these extreme conditions. It's a shame that our results here don't represent our potential, had the weather been a bit more consistent. We'll leave this weekend behind us now and focus on the next round at the Sachsenring!"
10th / +27.604 / 12 laps
"In the first race I was in 19th place and the last rider. I was even thinking about stopping because the conditions on the track were terrible, but I kept riding and they stopped the race. We restarted the race with less water on the track and a soft rear tyre and, though I was one of the last ones and there were many crashers, I gained more confidence than I had in the first race. These are important points for the championship, in the first race I would not have scored any. Marquez also scored a lot of points today, but Rossi, who could have recovered points, lost a lot. Ultimately we were able to save a difficult weekend. Before Le Mans we were also around 24 points behind and now we are more or less in the same situation, after two difficult races, so we have to think positive and keep in mind that we still have a lot of races to recover the gap to Marquez."
DNC / -10 laps
"It's a great shame considering our great level of speed and competitiveness this weekend with our bike at this track. We could have gotten some important points for the championship after a difficult weekend and we could have taken second place in the championship over Lorenzo, but unfortunately I made a mistake. In the second half I pushed too much while I already had a good advantage. On that lap I was trying to push to understand my level. In the second part of the race we started with a soft rear, which provides very good grip, but unfortunately I entered turn ten too fast. I think we had a good chance today, but with my mistake I threw away a lot of points. The distance, especially to Marquez, is quite big, but we need to continue working hard like this and try to be competitive also next time."
Espargaro powers through the rain to seize 4th at the Cathedral of Speed
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro equalled his best result in the premier class with a 4th place finish in a drama filled and soaking wet Motul TT Assen in front of 105,000 passionate fans. The Spaniard leapt forward when the lights went out at the beginning of the wet race and he carefully navigated around the circuit on the first lap which he completed in 8th. Then, shortly after, Espargaro dropped back six positions yet, he stayed focused and stuck into a consistent pace, which allowed him to move up to 9th by the midway point as he steadily made progress. However, by that time, the weather conditions were considerably worse which lead to the Grand Prix being red flagged. A shortened sprint of 12 laps resumed shortly afterwards and he got straight back to work before concluding the opening lap in 6th. With a third of the total distance left to run, Espargaro slotted into the final podium position as he continued to push, before eventually crossing the line in 4th, closing an incredibly challenging round 8 battle.
Meanwhile Bradley Smith's hopes of a strong result were dashed at the wet Dutch Grand Prix after falling on the 16th lap shortly after the race recommenced. The young Briton began the GP from 13th on the grid and he was shuffled back one position by the close of the first lap. Smith persevered as he launched into his recovery campaign and consistently progressed before clinching 12th when the red flag was shown. Nevertheless, the 25 year old lunged forward at the restart and moved up to 7th, yet his luck ran dry on the following lap as he fell at the 15th corner. He nursed his Yamaha YZR-M1 back to the pits and then bravely re-joined the Grand Prix and sealed 13th.
4th / +9.812 / 12 laps
"To come away from a tricky event like today with a 4th position in conditions that were completely wet, is like a dream for us. Of course there is a bittersweet taste in my mouth as I just missed out on the podium again, yet with all the crashes that we saw, I had to be careful and think about the Championship. In addition, Scott was clearly faster and able to push a lot more on the front tyre. In the second race we could use the softer rear compound and my feeling with the bike was much better straight away. Therefore, I can say that I believe I have been competitive in wet conditions for the first time since I've been in MotoGP. However my legs, arms, fingers, neck and whole body are now aching from the huge tension that we had while riding in these conditions. I must admit that I wished the GP was red flagged a bit sooner because it really was becoming dangerous to ride during the heavy rain. Anyway, the bike worked well, and the only issue we had to face was that, compared to the other manufactures, we struggled to get a feeling with the front tyre. The crashes from Valentino, my teammate and Jorge's race underline how tough it is for us to find the limit at the front end, so it was challenging to fight with the Honda and Ducati riders. Yet, this result is another important step in the right direction for my standings in the Championship and we have started to open a gap on the other satellite riders and also reduce the gap to Vinales. So we will continue to push and we'll remain focused so that hopefully, we can finish in a better position before the end of the season."
13th / -3 laps / 12 laps
"It was an eventful day and with the challenging conditions, it was tricky for everyone to not make any mistakes. We started with the harder option rear tyre, which was the first time that we tried it all weekend and it took me a long time to get a general feeling. Yet, I could see Pol just in front of me on the track and I thought that I had made the right decision to go for the full distance, because 26 laps is a long time. Then we had a lot of rain and to be honest, it would have be nice to stop a few laps earlier because it was quite unsafe. It's always difficult for race direction to understand the right moment but this is something we need to talk about in the future at safety commissions. Then, in part two, I felt a lot better because we were able to start with the softer compound of rear tyre, and twelve laps gave us that chance. I immediately made up a lot of positions in the opening lap, and in fact, I would say that it was one of the most competitive laps that I've had this season. Then unfortunately, like many other riders, I fell because I lost the front as it was pushed too much by the extra grip from the rear. Even though it's another disappointing weekend, it was nice to finish and get some points because the team has worked really hard. We will continue to soldier on and do the best that we can. Right now, if we look at the championship we're not where we want to be, but hopefully our fortune will change at some point this season and we'll be back to where we belong."