Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) has won the Iveco TT Assen, picking up his 80th victory in the MotoGP premier class and his first since the Malaysian Grand Prix of 2010. The nine-time champion shared the podium with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) and pole-sitter Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Tech3).
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was fourth with Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finishing fifth despite a broken collarbone. Lorenzo generated many of the headlines, having been cleared to race less than four hours before the start.
Rossi’s afternoon started from fourth on the grid. A decisive pass on LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl saw the Yamaha rise to third in a very strong move at the chicane as the first lap came to a close. The Italian then proceeded to hunt down the Hondas, dispatching of Marquez on Lap 4 and Pedrosa on Lap 6 in what was a similar move to that of 2007. He would go on to take an emotional victory by 2.1 seconds – his first at Assen for four years.
Marquez’s second place boosts his championship situation, finishing ahead of Pedrosa and Lorenzo. Having sealed his first front row starting position since Le Mans, the 20-year-old ran third but caught Pedrosa on the 18th lap; his first attempt to overtake failed, but the reigning Moto2 champion made the most of his next opportunity and seized second spot on the drag to the first corner.
“Today was something special, this is one of the best victories in my career because it is one of the most wanted and expected for such a lot of time. I’m so happy because I won a real race where all my opponents were very strong and very fast, apart from Jorge with his injury. It was great from the beginning, I had a good feeling, I could overtake on braking and I felt good on the bike. It was difficult but the finish line was calling me so I had to arrive as fast as possible. We have made a step with the bike, I can ride in a better way so we have to try and stay with the top guys every weekend. Jorge rode an incredible race, we have to say a special great congratulations because he had great courage to do this and also he made an important step for his Championship.”
Describing the race itself, he added, “I felt good. I tried hard from the beginning, it was a long race and I fought with everybody. I fought with Marc (Marquez), with (Dani) Pedrosa and with Cal (Crutchlow) but I always had that little bit extra at certain points. I’m so happy!”
“Overall the pace was faster than I had expected. At the start and throughout the race both Dani and Valentino were very strong. In fact, Valentino was simply faster than us today. I could only pass Dani towards the end because at first I had a lot of trouble. Once I was ahead of Dani, I tried to catch Valentino, but my arm began to affect me and I couldn’t brake in my normal way, due to my injured finger. In the end we took 20 points after a good battle with Cal, and I think I defended pretty well against him. In general, we can say we’ve done a good job all weekend. I would also like to congratulate Valentino, as it’s always good for motorcycle racing when he is up at the front.”
Third placegetter, Cal Crutchlow lost ground in the opening stages of the race, but was still delighted to come back and overhaul Pedrosa. He also caught Marquez on the last lap but there was contact between the two bikes; Crutchlow recovered and would cross the finish line third.
“I think we touched, but I said to Marc that I wanted him to see after the race what Dani sees on TV,” Crutchlow joked after the race, referring to the late-race touch between the Honda teammate last time out in Barcelona.
“It was a difficult race again, but we are still in the same position: too little, too late. I felt we had the potential to challenge Valentino (Rossi, winner) at the front today but I started too slow again and the first five laps I was wide in all the corners, but I’m very happy. We’ve had three podiums this early on in the season, it’s good for the championship and we are making good steps this year.”
Pedrosa would fall back one more place before the chequered flag, losing out to Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Crutchlow (the first British pole-sitter since 2002) who was fortunate to avoid a crash when he touched Marquez’s rear wheel on the final lap. Although fourth is Pedrosa’s worst result since Round 1 in Qatar, he still extends his championship lead by two points.
Today I started well, saving a crash at the very beginning with cold tyres, and I was able to continue and put in some good laps. Then I had problems with the tyres, both in the front and the rear. Still, I tried to hold on for as long as possible, because I don’t want it to be an excuse. I sat behind Rossi for several laps, then as the race progressed it was more and more difficult to keep up, especially when Marc and Crutchlow caught me. I guess everyone was sliding around behind us, but I found I couldn’t control the bike on entry to some corners and that made me lose touch, especially in the closing laps. Overall this weekend we had very negative feelings and in the end we managed an okay race. Now it is time to move on, relax and get ready for the next round. Finally, congratulations to Jorge, because what he did today and how he did it was very impressive. I take my hat off to him.
Lorenzo was mightily relieved to have scored 11 points, having suffered a heavy crash on Thursday before being operated on in the early hours of Friday morning. He arrived back at Assen on Friday afternoon and was given the green light to race after 11 o’clock this morning. Having risen to the top five from 12th on the grid by only Lap 2, he ran as high as fourth but fell back as pain kicked in.
Sixth place went to Bradl – who, from his first ever MotoGP front row – had briefly snatched second at the start, whereas GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista overhauled leading CRT rider Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar) for seventh with six laps to go. On the final lap Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden lost two places and fell to 11th, dropping behind Tech 3’s Bradley Smith and his own teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Avintia Blusens’ Ivan Silva finished 23rd covering for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, whereas Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek was the sole retirement.
A disappointing day for Aussie Bryan Staring who just couldn’t seem to get it together with the GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider finishing 21st.
“I was convinced that I could do much better. For a while I battled as part of the group but then I was not consistent enough until the end. For this reason I am a little disappointed with my performance. It’s further experience, but I would have preferred to end it with a different result. However, I’ve learned some important things that I hope to put into practice in future races.”
Valentino Rossi’s success is his first since returning to Yamaha and, as well as being his 80th win in the top tier, is his 106th career victory and eighth at Assen. In the standings, Pedrosa maintains the lead (136 points) from Lorenzo (127), with Marquez (113) now the reduced margin of 23 in arrears of the leader.
Results – Assen Round 7
1 Valentino Rossi 41m25.202s ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
2 Marc Marquez 2.170 ESP HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Cal Crutchlow 4.073 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
4 Dani Pedrosa 7.832 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
5 Jorge Lorenzo 15.510 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
6 Stefan Bradl 27.519 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
7 Alvaro Bautista 31.598 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
8 Aleix Espargaro 32.405 ESP ART Power Electronics Aspar
9 Bradley Smith 33.751 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
10 Andrea Dovizioso 33.801 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
11 Nicky Hayden 34.371 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
12 Randy De Puniet 57.674 FRA ART Power Electronics Aspar
13 Andrea Iannone 1’01.424 ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing
14 Michele Pirro 1’01.561 ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing
15 Karel Abraham 1’04.426 CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
16 Danilo Petrucci 1’11.114 ITA IODA Came IodaRacing Project
17 Colin Edwards 1’15.249 USA FTR NGM Forward Racing
18 Claudio Corti 1’24.884 ITA FTR NGM Forward Racing
19 Yonny Hernandez 1’25.854 COL ART Paul Bird Motorsport
20 Hector Barbera 1’25.978 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
21 Bryan Staring 1’26.256 AUS HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
22 Michael Laverty 1’26.610 WAL ART Paul Bird Motorsport
23 Ivan Silva 1’38.173 ESP FTR Avintia Blusens
24 Lukas Pesek DNF CZE IODA Came IodaRacing Project
1 Dani Pedrosa 136 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 127 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Marc Marquez 113 pts ESP HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Cal Crutchlow 87 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Valentino Rossi 85 pts ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
6 Andrea Dovizioso 65 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Stefan Bradl 51 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Nicky Hayden 50 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Alvaro Bautista 47 pts SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
10 Aleix Espargaro 44 pts ESP ART Power Electronics Aspar
11 Bradley Smith 41 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12 Michele Pirro 30 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing
13 Andrea Iannone 24 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing
14 Randy De Puniet 15 pts FRA ART Power Electronics Aspar
15 Hector Barbera 13 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Danilo Petrucci 13 pts ITA IODA Came IodaRacing Project
17 Colin Edwards 10 pts USA FTR NGM Forward Racing
18 Ben Spies 9 pts USA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing
19 Yonny Hernandez 6 pts COL ART Paul Bird Motorsport
20 Claudio Corti 4 pts ITA FTR NGM Forward Racing
21 Michael Laverty 3 pts WAL ART Paul Bird Motorsport
22 Karel Abraham 3 pts CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
23 Bryan Staring 2 pts AUS HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
24 Javier del Amor 1 pts ESP FTR Avintia Blusens
25 Hiroshi Aoyama 1 pts JPN FTR Avintia Blusens
26 Lukas Pesek 0 pts CZE IODA Came IodaRacing Project
27 Ivan Silva 0 pts ESP FTR Avintia Blusens
28 Blake Young 0 pts USA APRILIA Attack Performance