Valentino Rossi took his first win of the 2017 MotoGP season after a thrilling Dutch TT at Assen. Pole-sitter Johann Zarco pitted to change to wet tyres after the rain began to fall, ending his hopes of a GP victory. A late surge from Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso saw them go head to head with Marc Marquez, whilst Danilo Petrucci’s race win challenge was thwarted by Alex Rins on the final lap, after the Spaniard failed to get out of the Italian’s way whilst being lapped at turn 7.
The race started with Johann Zarco taking the hole-shot down into the first turn, with Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi slotting in behind. Petrucci dropped to 4th whilst Alvaro Bautista careered down the outside, into 5th place. Championship leader Maverick Vinales was mired in 11th place, failing to make up ground off the line.
Having waited and weighed up the situation, Valentino took the lead with 15 laps to go, from Johann Zarco. The two would tangle at turn 4 however, with Rossi running wide, giving the French sensation half a chance to take the lead back. As Zarco went for the inside line, Rossi swooped around the outside, colliding with Johann, who was then under attack from Marquez and Petrucci.
Danilo got passed Marquez and Zarco, before catching up with Valentino. With 8 laps to go, the front four started to telescope together as the rain came, lubricating the circuit enough for the likes of Zarco, Rins, Hector Barbera and Jorge Lorenzo to come in to change.
Meanwhile, out front with just 5 to go, Petrucci took the lead on the inside on the run back towards the pits, leaving Rossi vulnerable to a Marquez and Dovizioso attack.
Petrucci and Rossi pulled away however and at the chicane one lap later, it was the Yamaha rider who got under Petrucci’s Pramac Ducati, which would be how it stayed until the end of the race.
Rossi took the win despite Petrucci closing right in on The Doctor rider through the final chicane. It was his 115th win and his 10th at the Assen track. Completing the podium was reigning champion Marc Marquez, who put a stunning pass on Britain’s Cal Crutchlow at Ramshoek, leaving the newly re-signed LCR Honda rider 4th, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, who is now the championship leader after Maverick Vinales crashed out.
Rossi’s victory meant that he set another record in his career. The Italian now has the longest winning spell of any rider in the history of the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship. He also became the first rider in the history of the sport to take 10 victories at more than one European circuit – excluding the TT. It was his 224th podium and the victory also meant that Yamaha took their 16th premier class win at the circuit.
The next race in this sensational season comes from the Sachsenring, this coming weekend. the circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Honda in recent years and Marquez is yet to lose a race there since 2010. Rossi trails series leader Dovizioso by 7 points.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko