ASSEN, Netherlands – Valentino Rossi added another chapter to his legendary racing career, collecting his first MotoGP victory of the year at TT Circuit Assen.
The victory for Rossi is the 115th of his racing career, his 10th at Assen and comes more than 20 years after his first victory. He bested Danilo Petrucci by six hundredths of a second to pick up the victory.
Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez won a three-way fight for third to complete the podium in another close contest, beating Cal Crutchlow by .042 at the flag.
When the race began polesitter Johann Zarco got the holeshot to take the lead with Marquez, Rossi and Petrucci in pursuit. It wasn’t long before Rossi moved forward, taking the lead as the front four battled for position.
As the front four settled into a game of high-octane chess and pulled a gap, Scott Redding was pushing hard in fifth to escape from the snarling pack behind him. Soon Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales were all over him, with Vinales taking fifth.
Moments later though Vinales was out, crashing at the final chicane as he tried to close the gap on the front four riders. The race was over for Vinales as he suffered his second DNF of the year.
Meanwhile, Petrucci moved around Marquez to take second as Rossi continued to pull away by more than a second with nine laps left. Moments later it started to rain and riders were given permission to head to the pits for bike changes.
Most of the leaders stayed out, but Zarco and Hector Barbera hit the pits for a bike change as Rossi continued to lead the race. The battle at the front intensified as the rain continued, with Petrucci suddenly up to second on the white flag lap with Rossi still holding the lead.
Rossi raced through backmarkers in the rain, holding the racing line as Petrucci gave chase, but it was Rossi’s day as he scored his first MotoGP victory in more than a year and the 115th of his career.
“I’m so happy, and for different reasons, because it’s a very important victory for the championship, but especially the feeling of coming back to the number one spot after one year is fantastic,” said Rossi. “Sincerely, I race with motorcycles for this feeling: for what I feel in the five or six final laps of the race. That‘s always great and especially after a year without a victory. It was a great race and a great battle with Petrucci and everybody else. I‘m also happy from a technical point of view, because we worked a lot on the bike and we changed the chassis and now I feel like I can ride the bike more in my own manner, in a better way. Everything is open and this year we discovered that, from one track to the other, the situation can change a lot. We have to wait for next week and try to be competitive also at the Sachsenring.”
Marquez bested Crutchlow at the line by just .042 of a second to earn the final podium position. Dovizioso took home fifth and moved into the championship lead after Vinales’ crash by four points.