Round 8 Netherlands MotoGP – TT Circuit Assen
What a race, probably one of the best in a long time. The boys truly delivered.
The starting grid once again starred Marc Marquez in top spot with Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi lining up next to him, making this Crutchlow and Rossi’s second front row start for the 2018 season. Rossi is a favourite for the race having produced the most wins here at the Assen Circuit across all classes. He was also last season’s race winner.
Andrea Dovizioso heads the second row alongside Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales.
The Assen circuit itself is a favourite among the riders and features many right handers, 12 in fact, which will be tough on the rear tyres over the 4.5km track of the 26 lap race.
Rookie Franco Morbidelli who fractured his third metacarpal on his left hand during an incident in FP3 will not be racing this weekend after doctors declared him unfit.
In the lead up to the race the winds at Assen hit full force almost lifting an umbrella girl off the ground on the starting grid. Hopefully these strong winds do not wreak havoc on the riders.
The race was spectacular from the moment the lights went out until the checkered flags were waved. Marc Marquez took hole shot from his pole position but it was Jorge Lorenzo who took the starting spotlight rocketing from 10th on the grid to 2nd as they headed through turn one with Rossi heading back into fifth. Within a few corners Lorenzo had made the push on Marquez, passing him and holding off his counterattack to lead heading into lap 2. The start of the race and the next few laps in which Marquez retook the lead, Rins set the fastest lap, then Marquez set the fastest on the very next lap was clearly a predictor of what was to come. By lap five Rossi had taken second and he and Lorenzo started to pull a small gap from Marquez. Rossi then hit the back of Lorenzo’s bike which appeared to be caused by an issue with Lorenzo’s bike. It looked like he momentarily lost the front and slowed leaving Rossi little time to react, which saw the contact between the two riders.
Two laps later Rossi made an error and ran a bit wide allowing both Marquez and Dovi to roll by. Dovi then made the move on Marquez making it briefly a Ducati 1,2 before Marquez reclaimed second, with another five riders consisting of Rins, Rossi, Dovi, Vinales and Crutchlow all bunched up right behind them within a second of each other. Zarco was also soon to join the party passing Crutchlow. From here on out it was a case of blink and you ‘ll miss it. Throughout the race there was over 100 overtakes and 5 different race leaders. After Lorenzo initially claiming the lead in lap one he managed to hold this for over half the race distance before his teammate Dovi took the lead in lap fourteen with Lorenzo shortly dropping to third before fighting back with Marquez for second and then swapping some paint with Dovi in attempt to move back into the lead.
There was more contact to come with Rins and Lorenzo also colliding before Vinales decided to do some off track riding to take the lead. The riders looked like they were seriously hammering through the corners, it was so awesome to watch.
With seven laps to go it was now Marquez in the lead followed closely by Vinales, Dovi, Rossi, Rins and Lorenzo but it was the front four who were pulling away and still all looking hungry for the win. In the next lap Marquez and Vinales had an adventure off track with Dovi and Rossi capitalising on their antics with Dovi leading again for a few moments before Rossi took the lead for the first time.
It got even crazier next time round with Dovi, Marquez and Rossi riding side by side as they headed down the straight with Marquez emerging the victor with 5 laps left. By this time Rins, Crutchlow and Lorenzo had shortened the gap and after a move by Dovi that saw Rossi forced out wide with two laps to go hurtling him back into sixth it was definitely still anyone’s race.
However, it was Marquez who made a final push to widen the gap back to second crossing the line to take the win 2.23 seconds head of Alex Rins who was closely followed by Maverick Vinales completing the podium. Andrea Dovizioso took fourth after a last moment move on Rossi leaving Valentino Rossi in fifth. Cal Crutchlow crossed the line next in sixth leaving Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco, Alvaro Bautista and Jack Miller to round out the top ten.
Takaaki Nakagami and Andrea Iannone both received penalties during the race for separate incidents.
Tune in again for the final race before the summer break on July 13-15, where the action will take place for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
1st Marc Marquez:
“Yeah it was a crazy race, yesterday I already expected a little bit but not like it was. It was a wild group, it was everybody fighting against everybody, we were trying to attack but at the same time defend the position, and it was crazy to analyse and to try to find the best strategy. But in the end I say ok we wait, we fight and we will see in the end and the last six laps we said now it’s time to give everything, it doesn’t matter about the Championship. It was difficult but when I saw on the last lap that I had a 1.5 second advantage I was like ok, now it’s time to breathe, finish the lap and yeah to finish in first position was the most important thing.”
2nd Alex Rins:
“It was a fantastic battle, I understood and learnt a lot of things in the race, I was feeling strong and our race pace was good so I just enjoyed the race. A lot of riders overtook at Turn 5, I saw two laps before I overtook Marc on the same corner that he was overtaking a lot of riders there so I tried to do the same. When I was in fourth or fifth they had gone a little bit, I was always trying to push, push, push because I knew they would start to overtake and to rider slower than me and finally I arrived.”
3rd Maverick Viñales:
“For sure I’m happy because we were struggling a lot in the first laps but it seems that today we worked hard and it was good. It was good, honestly to be strong. In the middle of the race I felt really strong but then the tire made a big drop, which, I think, we can solve pretty easily. But, for the next races, we have to think the way to go fast. Here in Assen the track helps a bit because I’m fast here, but in the other tracks we need to continue working hard.”
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