“Before the race I said I want to push hard from the beginning and lead one or two laps. This was the first target for today,” said Rossi.
However once out front, it felt like business as usual: “Sincerely it felt like other races in the past, just more exciting at the finish line for sure. Just more happy.
“For me this is one of the most special victories of my career,” added the 34-year-old. “I put this on my 'podium' [top three best wins] because it is a long, long time. I hope we can raise my speed, my level, ride the M1 in a better way and fight these guys every week.”
Valentino Rossi: "After Qatar, people said, 'Valentino is young again'. After the next race in Austin they said, 'Valentino is finished!'"
Prior to Assen, Rossi's only podium of the year had been in the opening Qatar round. The Doctor teased about how quickly perceptions change in MotoGP and insisted he never stopped giving his all, even during the Ducati woes.
“After Qatar, people said, 'Ahh! Valentino is young again'. After the next race in Austin they said, 'Valentino is finished!' Always up and down. For me, I stayed at the same level but to be at the top in MotoGP you need everything 100 percent - a perfect weekend: The bike, track, tyres.
“I was riding also like this last year, but I was 30 seconds slower!
“All I can do is stay 100 percent concentrated, physically and mentally prepare for the races, and try to do my best every weekend.
“My rivals are very strong. The level is so high from the beginning to the end of the race. The pace has changed a lot from when I was young. So I don't want to say that I'll be in front every week, but I think I still have the potential, passion and strength to fight every week.”
Valentino Rossi: "We didn't change anything from the warm-up to the race, which hasn't happened since about 2002-2003!"
Lorenzo's injury aside, the biggest clue to the Assen success can be found one week earlier during testing in Aragon, when Rossi and his team got a grip on their braking problems.