Motul TT Assen, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) penned another stunning chapter in what is now the longest winning career in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing at the ‘Cathedral’ of speed, as the number 46 took his 115th win in the Motul TT Assen, more than 20 years after his first. Six hundredths of a second was the distance between victory and podium, as Rossi just headed compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) over the line. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) won a three-way fight for third to complete the rostrum in another close contest, beating Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) by 0.042 at the flag.
At lights out, it was Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who took the holeshot from his first ever pole position despite a better start from Marquez, and the Frenchman led the field away as Rossi took Petrucci for third. Behind was a mid-pack dogfight for fifth as Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) led Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in the early stages of a race that would go on to be a classic.
As the front four settled into a game of high-octane chess and pulled a gap, Redding was pushing hard in fifth to escape from those on the chase – but ‘DesmoDovi’ and Viñales were soon on the scene, with the Spaniard taking over in fifth to hunt down the leaders as Rossi then struck against Marquez at the front.
And then Viñales crashed.
Pushing to close down a three second gap back up to the top four, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider lost control at the final chicane and slid off just ahead of key rival Dovizioso – suffering his second DNF of the year. As the rider from Roses made it back down pitlane, Petrucci took second from Marquez and the ‘Doctor’ began to pull away in the lead – over a second ahead with nine to go.
And then? It started to rain – and the story was evidently far from over.
As the flag flew to signal bike changes were allowed, first in was Zarco, with the Frenchman taking the gamble just ahead of Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) as the conditions remained in the balance and the majority stayed out.
It was initially a four-way battle for the win as ‘DesmoDovi’ exploded onto the scene at the front, with Rossi back in the clutches of his compatriots and Marquez – but the rain began to fall again. As the last lap dawned, it was Petrucci dueling Rossi at the front, as Marquez and Dovizioso suddenly found themselves hunted down by Crutchlow and the stage was set: a duel for the win, and a three-way fight for third.
Past backmarkers, through the rain and incredibly tight together over the line, it was the ‘Doctor’ first at the flag – with Petrucci forced to settle for second as the number 46 took his first race win in over a year and the 115th of his career, extending his winning career at world level to the longest in history.
Behind Petrucci, the battle raged and Marquez beat Crutchlow over the line by only 0.042 to complete the podium, with ‘DesmoDovi’ fifth at the flag – and now heading to Germany with the Championship lead.
Jack Miller navigated a difficult race to take another impressive result at the TT Circuit Assen where he won last year, crossing the line in sixth after staying at the sharp end throughout. Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) shone in the circumstances to move through in the latter stages, dueling Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) over the line as the two took P7 and P8 respectively. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took some solid points in ninth, just a tenth off the two Ducatis ahead of him.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten for some good points after a difficult race last time out, ahead of a stunning result for his brother Pol Espargaro as the younger of the two took the best yet result for Red Bull KTM Factory racing in P11. The KTM rider beat Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) by less than a second as the 2014 Moto2™ World Champion took another points finish in P12, ahead of a difficult day for Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).
Zarco’s tyre gamble didn’t pay off, with the Frenchman then also handed a ride through for speeding in the pitlane and eventually classified in P14, leading the group the riders who went in to change bikes – Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) was next, completing the points, ahead of Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Bautista was a DNF, as well as Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Scott Redding.
After another chapter of history was written at Assen, ahead awaits the Sachsenring for the last race before the summer break. And with a new name at the top of the standings: Andrea Dovizioso.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) has taken another stunning win in the Dutch GP, bouncing back from some more difficult races to take the honours in the Moto2™ race of the season. Key title rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) took a close and hard-fought P2, with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completing the podium after some final chicane shenanigans with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team).
It was a train of six at the front early on off the start, but Lüthi got the holeshot ahead of Morbidelli and Nakagami, with Miguel Oliveira slotting into P4. By the end of the first lap, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Pasini were up into the fray, and the group started to pull away. Morbidelli pulled a small gap before Oliveira hunted him down to take over, with Pasini then moving through for second.
The Mugello winner then tapped the rear of his bike to show he had the pace before proving the point as he attacked Oliveira for the lead, and the battle remained a true battle as the laps ticked down under the constant threat of rain – with elbows out and some incredible moments and moves exchanged. After the chaos it was Nakagami at the head of the race, determined to hold station after fighting off first Pasini and then Morbidelli.
Lüthi fought back to prove the closest challenger with four to go, and the Swiss rider struck for the lead soon after – with Morbidelli following him through to shuffle Nakagami back into third. It was then fourth, then fifth for the Japanese rider as Pasini and then Oliveira pounced. Nothing was between the top five as the last lap came around, with Morbidelli pushing past Pasini at the final chicane into second – preparing a last attack on his key title rival in the lead: Tom Lüthi.
The two points leaders were clear at the front for the final duel and the Italian struck early against the Swiss rider. Lüthi found himself just too far back at the final chicane, taking a solid second and another 20 points for his title push – leaving Morbidelli to take another stunning victory after recently announcing his graduation to the premier class next year. It was a dramatic fight to complete the podium, as Nakagami took Pasini and the Italian headed over the run off towards the line in some last chicane shenanigans emblematic of the TT Circuit Assen. Third at the flag but then demoted, Pasini was classified P4 as Nakagami pulled into parc ferme to complete the podium.
Miguel Oliveira stayed out of trouble at the chicane to take fifth, with Alex Marquez then completing the top six after struggling with grip in the latter stages.
Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) completed a much-improved weekend at the Dutch GP in an impressive P7, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) in eighth. Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP40) had a fantastic weekend to come home top rookie in ninth, beating fellow debutant Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) over the line as the Italian took tenth.
Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) was top Suter in P11 as he edged out Kiefer Racing’s Dominique Aegerter, ahead of reigning Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) after a solid ride from the South African rookie as he recovers from injury. Yonny Hernandez (AGR Team) and Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completed the top fifteen.
After some classic contests at the TT Circuit Assen, it’s now on to Germany for round nine – and the last before the summer break.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) has taken a stunning second win of the season at the Motul TT Assen, striking at the final chicane to cross the line just ahead of fellow Championship challenger Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers). After an incredible ride back through the field after a tough weekend, British Talent Team rider John McPhee completed the podium – making up 16 places from his grid position.
With the threat of rain but a dry track and slicks on the field, it was a great start for the three on the front row as Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) took the hole shot – but lost it to Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) on the exit of Turn 1, with the Spaniard then beginning to streak away at the front. Not for long, as home hero Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) pulled clear of the chaos to hurt him down, followed by Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing). Next to get in the fight was Fenati, as the Italian attacked to tag onto the front three and the Moto3™ fireworks began.
The lead group of six had then begun to settle into a rhythm, with Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) joining the front four up in the battle. Martin then ran off track and dropped from the lead, pushing to get back in the group early on.
An early superstar to move up from outside the top twenty on the grid into seventh was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), who then suffered a crash – rider ok – but with repercussions for those following as the chasing pack avoided the incident. The exception was some bad luck for Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0), who then suffered a fall and later retired.
With the top six battling, eyes turned to Aron Canet as the Spaniard got his head down from the front of the second group and began to close the gap after getting caught out by the ‘Diggia’ incident – bringing Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate), Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers), Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) and John McPhee along for the ride as the train at the front became eleven.
The stage was then set for a classic Moto3™ battle, with some drama when Martin clipped Ramirez and dropped back in the lead group slightly – as McPhee and Mir dueled at the front with four to go.
The final lap dawned with Mir ahead over the line for the last 4.5km, but the ending was far from written. The Majorcan then lost out midway through and the pack streamed past, with the final few corners just on the right side of chaos as the group began to tousle for supremacy. Norrodin crashed out just ahead of the final chicane, before Canet moved through into the lead and held it over the line for his second win of the year – almost side by side with second place finisher Fenat in another incredible Moto3™ crescendo.
McPhee completed his scintillating comeback from P19 on the grid to lock out the podium and escape the chaos behind, with Martin taking fourth after slicing back through the lead group. Jules Danilo took a career best finish in fifth ahead of Ramirez, with seventh place finisher Gabriel Rodrigo a protagonist of the final act in the drama. Contact between the Argentine rider and home hero Bo Bendsneyder just ahead of the line saw heartbreak for the crowd as the Dutchman lost control and crashed – both Bendsneyder and the bike crossed the line in the top ten, but the rider was not in contact with his machine, meaning he isn’t classified.
Tatsuki Suzuki finished off his impressive weekend at Assen with an eighth place, ahead of the big name to lose out in the final corners – Championship leader Mir. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) crossed the line in a solid but lonely tenth place.
Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) took P11, with Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team), an impressive fight back from Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) and big progress from Mugello winner Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) crossing the line twelfth to fourteenth. The points scorers were completed by Japanese rookie talent Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team).
Now it’s a quick hop further south to the Sachsenring, where the grid will do it all again next Sunday ahead of the summer break.