Rossi Rallies to an Astonishing Win in Assen
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Teams Valentino Rossi brought his A game to the Motul TT Assen race today. The nine-time World Champion completed a challenging weekend due to mixed conditions with a superb win, giving him the longest winning career through all classes, spread over 20 years and 313 days. Teammate Maverick Viñales fought his way up from eleventh on the grid and was heading towards the leading group, but his efforts ended in a DNF after an unlucky fall.
Rossi kicked off the Dutch Grand Prix from fourth position as darker skies loomed. He quickly slotted in behind Johann Zarco and Marc Marquez in third place and was quick to respond as his rivals attempted to break away, setting a provisional fastest lap of the race on lap three and four, with Danilo Petrucci tagging along. The Doctor piled on the pressure with 17 laps to go and overtook Marquez a lap later in the first corner, making the fans cheer. He duplicated this manoeuvre on the next lap to take over the lead from Zarco, which was followed by a touch between the two in turn 4, but the Italian kept the lead. Four laps later the Factory Yamaha man inched away as his pursuers battled for second place. The Doctor increased his lead to about a second, but with 8 laps left white flags came out as rain started to fall. Rossi was forced to lower his pace, allowing his rivals to close up. Adrenaline levels reached an all-time high for the VR46 fans as their hero fought tooth and nail to hold off his rival. Petrucci passed him with five laps to go, but the nine-time World Champion wasnt going to let the win slip away that easily. A lap later he used his nimble Yamaha YZR-M1 to charge past his compatriot in the chicane to regain the lead. The last laps were filled with drama as the pair had to deal with backmarkers, but Rossi held firm, taking a sensational win with a 0.063s advantage.
It was a busy race for teammate Viñales. Starting from eleventh on the grid he flew off the line and made his way through the first lap settling into tenth place. He took a couple of laps to get his tyres up to temperature at the cool Assen track, before he heated up his pace and started to carve through the bunched-up pack of riders.
The Spaniard put his head down and hit the front of the group fighting for fifth place with 16 laps left and was making strides, until a crash in the chicane prematurely ended his quest.
Today's results see Rossi move up to third place in the championship standings with a 108-point total. He is now three points behind his teammate Viñales in second place. The sensational win sees Yamaha hold the lead in the constructor championship with a 22-point margin and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP remain the leaders in the team standings by 28 points as they move on to Germany for the next round at Sachsenring in one week's time.
Position: 1st - Championship: 3rd - Points: 108
Im so happy, and for different reasons, because its a very important victory for the championship, but especially the feeling of coming back to the number one spot after one year is fantastic. Sincerely, I race with motorcycles for this feeling: for what I feel in the five or six final laps of the race. Thats always great and especially after a year without a victory. It was a great race and a great battle with Petrucci and everybody else. Im also happy from a technical point of view, because we worked a lot on the bike and we changed the chassis and now I feel like I can ride the bike more in my own manner, in a better way. Everything is open and this year we discovered that, from one track to the other, the situation can change a lot. We have to wait for next week and try to be competitive also at the Sachsenring.
Position: DNF - Championship: 2nd - Points: 111
I cant explain what happened, because I dont even know why I crashed. I passed there 2000 times, but today was the day. I was pushing myself over the limit, trying to bring the Yamaha to the top and I think that if I hadnt crashed I could have reached the riders in front, because our pace was very fast. We need to learn that in qualifying the minimum you have to do is sixth or fifth, so I know that the mistake was made yesterday, not today. I was feeling great on the bike today. I was trying to maintain the tyres on a good level and preparing an attack on the last ten laps. I was riding in a good way and really smoothly on the entire track and I felt much stronger than the other riders, I was trying my best. This crash is something we cant explain, we can only learn from it, especially concerning qualifying. I knew this morning it was going to be tricky and tried my best: it was everything or nothing and finally I got nothing. We have to go for it the next couple of races and we expect something different.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
What a drama-filled and exciting race! Vale is always a rider to watch in Assen and this year he again made good on the promise. He really deserved the victory today and claimed his first win of the season with an amazing battle in extremely difficult conditions. There was no better way to come back from a challenging weekend in Catalunya. Maverick was looking to recover from a not so easy starting position and when he moved up to fifth place and started to really push, he suffered an unlucky crash in turn 17. It was a pity to see his race end the way it did, considering his potential. After all the emotions today, we have a few days to recover before we head to the Grand Prix in Germany, held in just a weeks time. The track had been resurfaced and slightly modified, so we are eager to get work started there.
Misfortune for Tech3 Pair at Dutch Grand Prix
Johann Zarco endured a tricky time today at the Motul TT Assen after an eventful race in front of 105,000 enthusiastic spectators. The rookie powered forward from pole position and spectacularly ran at the front of the field for almost the entire opening half of the race. Then spots of rain began to fall and Zarco took the opportunity to swap to his bike with the wet setup on the 20th lap. However, after climbing to 12th, he was issued with a ride through penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane. He ultimately finished in 14th, which marks a tough conclusion to an otherwise notable weekend.
Meanwhile, Jonas Folger experienced a disappointing end to the Dutch Grand Prix after falling at turn one on the 10th lap. The young German bolted forward from 6th, his best qualifying result of the year, but he ran wide and slipped back to the rear of the pack. However, he began muscling his way through the field, until he fell, marking his first DNF of the year. Nevertheless, the young gun seeks to make amends at his home Grand Prix in Saxony next week.
Position: 14th - Championship: 6th - Points: 77
Overall, I have to say that today was actually positive. I made a very good start from pole position when it was dry at the beginning, and I took the lead which was a great feeling. No one passed me and I did the best that I could by riding my references. After that, I started to fight with the other riders and we changed places. At two points on the track, I was struggling a lot compared to them, yet I managed to stay in the group for a bit, but then it rained. Honestly, at this point, I was nervous about crashing because we are on the limit anyway but when we see rain, it can be scary. I could not push anymore with the slick tyres, so I took the decision to swap bikes. In the end, it didnt rain enough to make a difference yet, I could not carry on with my dry bike. This is part of the game and sure, we made some mistakes, which includes a ride through penalty but I didnt lose so many positions. I want to say that it was a positive Sunday because I was competitive at the beginning and in the dry conditions, plus, I was able to stay with the leaders and fight for the podium. This is the target so we just need to build everything up in order to reach it, but we are close.
Position: DNF - Championship: 10th - Points: 51
Its a real shame about what happened today and I cant hide my disappointment. First of all, I ran off the track after six corners and this caused me to drop back to last. Then, I tried to fight my way through the group but I couldnt start a solid rhythm because I was in the mix with some of the slower riders. Anyway, I overtook a few people and I was pushing but then, unfortunately, I fell at the first corner. Its a pity because some of these riders collected some good points today and I know that I am quicker than them, so we could have done a great job. Nevertheless, I will now focus on my home Grand Prix next week where I am determined to have a strong weekend in front of my fans.