Yamaha MotoGP Team's 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.
The Yamaha YZR-M1 from Valentino Rossi was first, Danilo Petrucci on a Ducati was second and Marc Marquez came in 3th on his Honda RC213V.
Valentino 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 wasn't 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.
Valentino RossiMovistar Yamaha, Position: 1st
I'm so happy, and for different reasons, because it's 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. That's always great and especially after a year without a victory. It was a great race and a great battle with Petrucci and everybody else. I'm 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.
Maverick ViñalesMoviestar Yamaha, Position: DNF
I can't explain what happened, because I don't 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 hadn't 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 can't 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.
Andrea DoviziosoDucati Factory Team, Position: 5th
Today’s race was a very difficult one and having to start from row 3 complicated things a bit. At the start I wasn’t able to be very smooth and I lost touch with the leading group, but I remained focussed to see where I could recover and when Viñales crashed in front of me, I pushed hard to get back up with the leading group. At that moment I was the quickest on the track and this is a good sign for our bike. When I came up on the leaders it started to rain but you couldn’t really see where the track was dry and where it wasn’t. For this reason I didn’t want to take any risks and I tried to finish the race in the best possible way to score some valuable points for the championship. We go back home in the lead of the table and it’s a new emotion for me because I’ve never been in the lead of MotoGP. I want to thank all my team because this weekend we again worked really well and despite the constantly changeable weather conditions, we made the right decisions, we stayed calm and in this end it all paid off.