It was a fight of the titans with Rossi and Marquez going wheel to wheel for the entire race, and it came down to a controversial final corner in Assen…
Valentino Rossi wins in dramatic fashion after an incredible race-long battle with Marc Marquez at the Motul TT Assen.
97,000 fans basking in the sunshine at the legendary TT Circuit Assen were treated to one of the greatest MotoGP™ battles ever witnessed as the nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi managed to hold off Marc Marquez in a dramatic end to the race to take his 111th GP victory and extend his championship lead.
Marquez made a move on Rossi as the duo entered the final chicane on the very last lap and made contact with the Italian, forcing Rossi to run straight on through the gravel. Rossi managed to stay upright though and went on to take the chequered flag 1.242s ahead of Marquez, claiming his third win of the season and first from pole position since Misano in 2009.
Movistar Yamaha’s Rossi, starting from pole for the first time since Valencia last season, led into the first corner and it didn’t take Marquez long to join him after starting from third on the grid, overtaking Aleix Espargaro on the first lap to move into second.
Marquez was happy to sit behind Rossi for most of the race, before making his move and taking the lead into turn 1 on lap 20. Rossi bided his time, and then responded with 3 laps to go to retake the lead at turn 10. The Italian then put in his fastest lap of the race in an effort to pull away, but Marquez responded on the final lap to get within striking distance once again as the duo approached the final chicane.
Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo enjoyed a brilliant start from eighth on the grid, and found himself in third after the first lap. Any hopes the Spaniard had of making it five wins in a row disappeared shortly afterwards though, as Rossi and Marquez pulled away at the front and disappeared off into the distance. The double MotoGP™ World Champion eventually crossing the line 14.576s behind his teammate in a lonely third position.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+19.109s) was another four seconds back as he also circulated for most of the race on his own, finishing just over four and a half seconds back from Lorenzo.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro won an incredible battle for 5th that saw four riders all within 0.4s of each other. The Spaniard also finished as the leading Satellite rider 0.105s ahead of CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow in sixth. Espargaro’s teammate Bradley Smith crossed the line in seventh in front of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa (+24.656s), who had fought back valiantly after a crash in Warm Up, and a disastrous start that saw him down in 12th after the first lap.
The Team Suzuki Ecstar duo of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales were next across the line in ninth and tenth respectively, ahead of Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (11th) and the second Factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso in twelfth.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding finished 46.663s back from Rossi in 13th, while Loris Baz (Athina Forward Racing) took the Open class victory, and the final championship point that was up for grabs in 15th, just ahead of Aspar MotoGP Team’s Nicky Hayden who crossed the line in 16th.
Hector Barbera and Jack Miller were involved in a crash on the very first lap that resulted in the former having to go to the medical centre for checks on his right leg, although he was later declared fit. Alex De Angelis, Eugene Laverty and Stefan Bradl also crashed out; with the latter finding out he had fractured the scaphoid in his right wrist after an X-ray at the Medical Centre.
Rossi’s (163pts) victory, his 85th in the premier class, means he has extended his lead in the championship standings over Lorenzo (153pts) to 10 points with ten races to go.
Johann Zarco was able to cement his victory of the Motul TT Assen in the closing laps, a major factor in his overall success.
As he has done in previous rounds, Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) made his mark in the closing laps. Zarco and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing) had battled closely for much of the restarted Moto2™ race in Assen but the last four laps perfectly demonstrate Zarco’s advantage and ability to push to the end. For most riders, their lap times will gradually decrease as the race goes on with their tyres losing grip, but Zarco improves his pace. He set a 1’37.9, a 1’38.0, a 1’37.5 and a 1’37.6 as the race ended, each of these laps was at least 0.2s quicker than Rabat’s times from the same lap, their final lap being 0.4s apart.
“I had a good fight with Tito and he was quite aggressive, so I say OK it’s a good fight! He faded towards the end but I was still strong enough to pass him. I thought it was better to overtake two laps from the end and try and push as I felt I had the speed to do this,” said Zarco. The Frenchman produced a similar performance in Mugello when chasing Rabat, all but one of the final four laps set by Zarco in Italy were faster than Rabat’s times. Most impressive from his Mugello performance was Zarco’s last lap of 1’52.685, the fourth fastest lap of the race overall.
Rabat admitted that today he was unable to best Zarco: “We then fought a lot with Johann. I tried to go away alone but I start to struggle and I can’t go faster. He caught me and today Johann was better. Anyway I’m happy to finish second and the team and I are doing a good job.”
The last laps of the Catalan GP saw the same phenomenon, Rabat leading until the final lap when Zarco struck. However, in Catalunya the fledgling Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) emulated Zarco’s last lap surge to snatch second, Rins’ last lap an entire second faster than Rabat’s. This weekend in Assen Rins again improved his pace at the end to get the best of both Jonas Folger (AGR Team) and Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten). If Zarco’s current results are anything to go by, this skill will help Rins greatly as he continues to learn the Moto2™ bike in the coming races and seasons.
Third in the race, Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing) did improve by 0.3s on his last lap, but the majority of his others were consistently in the low 1’38s with little variation, a strong pace but just missing something. The Brit was unable to produce the same radical drop as Zarco and Rins: “I think we’re proving that there’s not many people that can stick with these two guys, and we’re on a different bike so I think we’re doing a good job. We stalled a bit at the start but once I got past the other guys I was running the same pace as Rabat and Zarco.”
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira takes his second Moto3™ victory in a simply sensational race at the Motul TT Assen.
The packed grandstands at the legendary TT Circuit Assen bore witness to a incredible seven way battle for victory in an epic and dramatic Moto3™ race in which Miguel Oliveira claimed his second victory of the season by just 0.066s.
The sun came out to play and track temperatures rose to 26°C before the start of what would turn out to be an incredibly dramatic race. A leading group of seven riders broke away from the rest of the field in the early stages to provide drama and excitement in equal measure as they fought tooth and nail for the victory.
The lead swapped hands at almost every corner, as the riders in the leading group put move after move on each other, but it was Oliveira who timed his charge to perfection to snatch the lead just before the final chicane and held on across the line to take KTM’s 3rd win of the season ahead of 16-year-old Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and championship leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing +0.117s).
Jorge Navarro (+0.179s) had to settle for fourth ahead of the hard charging Romano Fenati (+0.252s) on the Sky Racing Team VR46 KTM, while the man who started form pole, 17-year-old Italian Enea Bastianini (+0.526s), crossed the line in sixth.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the last man in the leading group in seventh, with his teammate Karel Hanika wining the battle for eighth in the chasing pack (+21.406s) ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) and John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG), who completed the top ten.
RBA Racing’s Niklas Ajo crossed the line in 17th in remarkable fashion having lost control at the final corner in the battle for 8th and managing to hold on while hanging completely off the side of his bike to finish the race, eventually crossing the line on his knees.
Maria Herrera looked on course for her first top-ten finish before Antonelli took her out after losing control under braking while she was leading the chasing group in 8th. Her teammate Isaac Viñales also crashed out after contact from Juanfran Guevara, while Efren Vazquez, Andrea Locatelli, Zulfhami Khairuddin, Alexis Masbou and Tatsuki Suzuki all failed to finish, with the latter suffering from a technical fault on the first lap.
Kent managed to extend his lead in the championship standings once more, and is now 57-points clear of Bastianini, with Oliveira another 6-points back in third.