Valentino Rossi secured his first MotoGP victory in over a year as he took the chequered flag in Assen. The Italian fought of stiff competition for Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci to take the win, whilst Marc Marquez rounded off the podium.
It was fellow Yamaha rider Johann Zarco who made the strongest start, converting his pole position in to an early lead. The Frenchman led a breakout group, with Marquez, Rossi and Petrucci moving well clear of the pack.
With 15 laps to go, Rossi made his move, hitting the front ahead of Zarco, There was a bit of contact as Zarco tried to snap straight back at the Doctor, but this didn’t affect Rossi, and allowed Marquez to pass Zarco.
Shortly afterwards, Petrucci muscled his way past Marc Marquez in to second, but the real excitement started when, with 8 laps remaining, the white flags came out, indicating that there was rain and that riders were allowed to come in and change bikes.
Andrea Dovizioso, who had been having a quiet race by his recent standards, pushed past both Zarco and Marquez on the same lap to put himself in to podium contention, before hunting down Petrucci on the following lap.
During this time, Johann Zarco, who had been on the softer option tyre, decided to swap bikes to a wet race set-up, a gamble that proved unsuccessful as he would be unable to make up the lost time, and even suffered a penalty for speeding in pit lane. Only Hector Barbera, Alex Rins and Jorge Lorenzo followed Zarco in changing to wets.
Rossi looked to be getting clear as the two Ducatis battled amongst themselves, but Petrucci was able to break clear and catch the leader. The two Italians battled it out for the final few laps for first, with Rossi leading in to the final lap. The Pramac Ducati rider looked to have the pace to take his first MotoGP victory going in to the final sector, but lost time lapping Alex Rins, who Rossi had passed smoothly. This enabled the 38 year old to take his tenth win at Assen across all classes, finishing 0.063 seconds clear of Petrucci.
Cal Crutchlow appeared from nowhere to join the race for the final podium position in the final stages of the race. The Brit passed Dovizioso and Marquez with ease, but the factory Honda rider fought back. Marquez just managed to better Crutchlow, holding him off by 0.042 seconds.
Last year’s race winner Jack Miller finished sixth, ahead of Karel Abraham in seventh. Loris Baz, Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro rounded off the top ten.
It was a miserable day for the Brits, apart from Cal Crutchlow of course. Sam Lowes crashed early on, and was soon followed in to the gravel by SBradley Smith. With two laps remaining, Scott Redding completed the hat-trick of British riders crashing out.
Dovizioso’s fifth place sees him move to the top of the championship, after previous series leader Maverick Vinales crashed out having fought back to fifth place after a start to forget. Dovizioso leads the championship now by four points, with Rossi a further three points behind Vinales, and Marc Marquez only eleven points off of the lead.
In Moto3, Aron Canet secured his second win of the season, preventing a fantastic comeback from Britain’s John McPhee, who ended up third after making up sixteen places to catch the leaders. Franco Morbidelli celebrated securing a MotoGP ride in 2018 with another Moto2 victory. The Italian has now won five of the opening eight races.
The next race is the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring on the 16 July.