It was vintage Valentino Rossi today at the Cathedral as the Yamaha Factory Racing rider rode to a 2.1-second victory to break a two-and-a-half year drought. Rossi got a good start, quickly moving up to the third position by the end of Lap 1, and then went about the business of hunting down the two Honda Repsol riders in front of him. On Lap 4, The Doctor would use a late-braking maneuver going into Turn 1 to power by Repsol rookie Marc Marquez. On the next lap, Rossi ran a half-second quicker than leader Dani Pedrosa to close the gap. By Lap 6, he had Pedrosa in his sights and went underneath the championship points leader to the delight of the crowd. Once in first place, Rossi rode a smooth, mistake-free race on his way to winning his 80th career GP race, eight of those at the fabled Circuit van Drenthe.
“I’m happy, but I cannot believe because is a great feeling to be back on the first position. It was a long, long time from Sepang in 2010 and this year it makes it to me also this question, I can come back on the first position or not. It was a tough period. But I never gave up, I always work because this is my passion and I love to ride and race motorcycles,” Rossi said in a post-race interview.
The other compelling storyline came from his Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Jorge Lorenzo. The reigning world champion suited up to race after breaking his collarbone two days ago. With a titanium plate and eight screws in his shoulder, Lorenzo gutted it out and started from the 12th position. He rapidly dispatched a handful of riders by the end of the first lap, and a few laps later had already fought his way up to the top five. He soon would battle past Crutchlow for the fourth spot and began to close the gap on third-place Marquez. But by the 10th lap, Lorenzo started to drop off the pace, likely suffering from the effects of his injury, and Crutchlow would eventually power past. He would spend the rest of the race running contentedly in fifth place, where he finished the race, conceding only two points in the championship chase with his efforts.
Pedrosa led the battle for second place much of the race, but Marquez never let him out of his sights. The Spanish rookie made a move to slingshot past Pedrosa on Lap 16, but Pedrosa slammed the door on him. Marquez was not to be denied though and found enough speed on his next pass to make it stick. The battle between the two was just what Rossi needed to extend his lead and check out. Marquez would hold onto the position to grab the second spot on the podium.
Behind the Repsol duo, Crutchlow had moved past Lorenzo with a calculated pass and with the help of a couple of fast laps closed the gap on Pedrosa, too. Crutchlow started from pole but couldn’t parlay that to a quick start, falling back to fifth. But at times he was the fastest rider on the day and eventually moved past Pedrosa leading up to the chicane and began to hound Marquez. With powerful runs again through the chicane, Crutchlow was hot on the back wheel of the Honda rider, but on the last lap clipped the back wheel of Marquez and lost ground. Crutchlow recovered to put his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha on the podium in the third spot.
The Dutch GP had all the potential for points leader Pedrosa to extend his lead in the championship chase after it looked like second-place competitor Lorenzo was out. But then Lorenzo raced, and finished just behind Pedrosa in fifth. Lorenzo’s championship chase also benefitted from fellow Yamaha riders Rossi and Crutchlow who both bumped Pedrosa down to his eventual fourth place finish.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl got a solid start from the third position on the grid but couldn’t maintain the pace of the frontrunners. He would run a solitary race in the sixth spot for most of the contest, and that’s where he would finish.
Power Electronic Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro and Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista would battle for the seventh and eighth slots with Bautista emerging the victor. Espargaro topped the CRT efforts with his ART chassis-equipped bike to finish in eighth place.
The Factory Ducati’s spent most of the race shadowing one another in the ninth and tenth spots. Nicky Hayden looked to be a lock for a top ten finish, but on the final lap, both Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith and his own Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso would sneak by, dropping Hayden to 11th. Smith would edge out Dovizioso for the ninth spot.
An estimated 90,000 GP fans got to witness the return to form of The Doctor, whose team hoisted him triumphantly in the air post-race and marched him over to a cheering section of yellow-shirted Valentino fans. After the race, Lorenzo was obviously in excruciating pain but showed the heart of the champion by not only racing, but fighting his way to a fifth place finish.
The MotoGP paddock heads to The Ring July 14 for the eighth round of the racing season at the German circuit.
MotoGP Assen TT Results 2013
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
2. Marc Marquez (Honda)
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
8. Alex Espargaro (ART)
9. Bradley Smith (Yamaha)
10. Andrea Dovioso (Ducati)
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
12. Randy DePuniet (ART)
13. Andrea Iannone (Ducati)
14. Michele Pirro (Ducati)
15. Karel Abraham (ART)