MotoGP: How Miller won at Assen

JACK MILLER AUS MARC VDS RACING TEAM HONDA MotoGP  GP Assen 2016 (Circuit Assen) 24-26/06.2016  photo: MICHELIN
GP Assen 2016 (Circuit Assen)

Miller walks on water for miraculous first win

With the track soaked, the rain eased and riders headed out onto the grid with wets fitted. The lights went out with riders knowing a flag-to-flag race was likely, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) grabbing the lead out of the first corner as they tiptoed around the first corners.

Once he had the lead Rossi didn’t look back, opening up almost a second advantage on everyone but Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) on the first lap. But soon the wild Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) was past him.

Riders looked set to consider a change to intermediate or dry tyres but then the rain returned with a vengeance. Dovizioso was able to catch up to Rossi once again. The rain only got heavier and allowed Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) to join the battle for victory, Yonny Hernandez’s fall turning their battle into one for victory. But then with 12 laps to go the rain was ruled to be too severe and the red flag was brought out due to the weather conditions.

Not long after the race was restarted, run over 12 laps. The grid was based on the finishing positions on lap 14. As such Dovizioso lined up on pole with Petrucci and Rossi completing the front row.

Andrea Dovizioso, who had led the restart, lost the front end as he attempted to stay with Rossi. This granted Rossi a comfortable lead until he crashed out at Turn 10 a lap later. This is Rossi’s third DNF of the 2016 season.

Known for his ability in the wet, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) made steady progress off the line and soon found himself in second behind Marquez. Miller seized his chance and took the lead of the race at the final chicane on lap four. Marquez tried to close down the Australian but Miller kept his cool. Miller’s victory is the first MotoGP™ win by an Australian since Casey Stoner’s final victory in Phillip Island in 2012. He also becomes the first rider on a non-factory bike to win a race since Toni Elias won the infamous Portuguese GP in 2006.

Marquez settled for second place, extending his championship lead over both Lorenzo and Rossi by a significant margin.

The battle for third was one of the closest on track, Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Redding finding themselves in podium contention due to the falls ahead. Redding muscled his way past his former Moto2™ rival to return to the podium for the first time since Misano in 2015.

Iannone managed to take fifth place ahead of Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP). Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jorge Lorenzo completed the top ten. Lorenzo had a terrible time in both races, the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship unable to find any speed in the wet.

Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Bradley Smith all finished the race, everyone who remained upright scoring points.

Measured Nakagami breaks Japan’s winless drought

Fears of rain were briefly put to bed as the Moto2™ World Championship race at the Motul TT Assen lined up on the grid. The 24-lap race began with a lightning start from pole setter Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), who seized the lead immediately and Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) slide into second. Rain clouds threatened throughout the race.

Having led Warm Up, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) carried his pace through to the race and was inside the top five from the moment the lights went out. The top five were close and on lap six the Japanese star passed Luthi for second and attempted to close in on Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who had taken an early lead. On lap nine he went up the inside of the Italian and took control of the race. Two laps from the end the red flag was brought out due to rain, cementing Japan’s return to the top step. This is Nakagami’s first win in the World Championship.

After the first five laps it looked as though Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) would be out of contention for victory, the French rider struggling to find his pace early in the race. But once he found his pace he flew, jumping into the podium battle on the tenth lap. Second sees Zarco right back in championship contention as joint leader.

From fifth on the grid, Franco Morbidelli held his position in the early laps, getting past Johann Zarco and Takaaki Nakagami with relative ease. He held first place for some time but was eventually passed by Nakagami, the Italian focusing on his own race to secure third, only his second podium finish.

Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was fast right away and immediately found himself in contention. His pace improved towards the end and he challenged Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) for fourth. This result sees him only five points off the championship lead.

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) would eventually cross the line fifth, just ahead of Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40).

Historic day for Bagnaia and Mahindra at The Cathedral

For the 800th time the lightweight class championship lined up on the grid, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) on pole. The Motul TT Assen was declared dry, but dark clouds began to blot out the sun as the lights went out. Away they went, Bastianini and Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) flying off the line.

Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) had a steady first lap and hit the lead on lap two. It was a cut and thrust battle for most of the 22 lap race, no one able to gain any sort of advantage. He timed his move to perfection, expertly navigating the final chicane to carry enough speed to take a photo finish victory. Not only was it his first win on the world stage, but also Mahindra’s who have now broken Honda and KTM’s domination of the lightweight class.

Having only scored his first points in Mugello, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) the Italian was once more involved in the podium battle. There was little room for tactics, Di Giannantonio doing all he could to hang on until the last lap. In true Assen style it was all about the run through the chicane, his Honda pushing him to third, 0.021s off victory. After the race Migno was demoted to third, promoting Di Giannantonio to second.

On lap nine of the race Migno put in an aggressive move to lead the race, having spent the opening portion of the Motul TT Assen just outside the top three. Binder attacked him but the Italian responded, able to hold his own against the championship leader. On the last lap he made an incredible move through Hoge Heide and the Ramshoek, coming from fifth to lead into the chicane. 0.018s separated him from his first win, making his podium debut with second. But after the race it was ruled that Migno had made an illegal overtake and was thus demoted to third

Despite a strong start to the race, Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) was unable to make it happen on the last lap. The Italian was squeezed out coming into the final chicane and forced to settle for fourth, despite having led at multiple stages in the race. He’s now 58-points back on Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) left his charge till late in the race, leading as the final lap began but like Fenati found himself unable to progress at the chicane. Fifth is his best result since Mugello.