Imperious Valentino Rossi dominates Dutch MotoGP
29 June 2013
Valentino Rossi was back to his imperious best as the Factory Yamaha rider dominated the Dutch MotoGP at Assen to earn a landmark 80th victory in the premier class – his first since 2010.
Rossi, who started from fourth on the grid, seized the lead from Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa on lap 6 of 26, at the final chicane.
The Italian then produced a commanding performance reminiscent of the Rossi of old, dictating matters at the front to eventually win by two seconds from Marc Marquez.
"I'm happy and I cannot believe it!" beamed the 34-year-old. "It is a great feeling to be back in first position. It's been a long time since Sepang 2010. I didn't know if I could win again. It was a tough period but I never gave up. This is my passion and I love to race motorcycles."
Rossi, a seven time MotoGP champion, returned to Yamaha this season after two winless years at Ducati.
"Thanks to Yamaha for giving me another chance. It took time to find the right balance with the bike, but I knew I had a great chance today. Also with Lorenzo injured. I fought with everybody - Marc, Pedrosa and Cal - today, but I was always a little faster in some places.
"I want to thank everyone who has helped me and now we have to continue at this level."
Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, who was the first British rider to start a Grand Prix race from pole position since Jeremy McWilliams in 2002, made it onto the podium in third place after challenging Marquez for the runner-up spot.
Crutchlow was putting the series rookie under intense pressure but almost ran into the rear of Marquez at the end of the start/finish straight at the beginning of the final lap, thwarting his chances.
Pedrosa had been second for much of the race before dropping back into the clutches of Marquez and Crutchlow, crossing the line in fourth place ahead of the brave Lorenzo, who battled through the pain barrier to take fifth after breaking his left collarbone in a crash during practice.
Despite Lorenzo's injury woe, Pedrosa only increased his lead at the top of the MotoGP World Championship by a further two points over his title rival and now holds a nine-point advantage.
Stefan Bradl, who earned his maiden MotoGP front row start after qualifying in second place on the LCR Honda, finished 12 seconds behind Lorenzo in sixth position.
Alvaro Bautista took seventh on the Gresini Honda by les than a second from the CRT machine of Aleix Espargaro on the Power Electronics Aspar, who lived up to his promise in qualifying to finish eighth.
Espargaro finished 1.3s ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha's Bradley Smith, who started from the second row in sixth place, while Andrea Dovizioso came out on top of a race-long duel with his Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden to claim 10th place.
Pedrosa shot into the lead at the first corner from Bradl, Marquez and Rossi as Crutchlow failed to make the most of his pole start.
Bradl quickly dropped down the order as he was passed first by Marquez and then Rossi, with Lorenzo moving into sixth position ahead of Bradley Smith at the start of lap two.
Crutchlow also made up a place, passing Bradl on lap two to take fourth behind Pedrosa, Marquez and Rossi with Lorenzo gaining another position, moving ahead of Bradl into fifth after starting from 12th place on the grid.
Pedrosa, Marquez and Rossi began to edge away at the front from Crutchlow and Lorenzo.
At the end of the fourth lap, Rossi snatched second from Marquez with a smooth pass at the chicane and set a fastest lap of 1m 34.894s to reel in Pedrosa, making a similar move on the brakes at the chicane to hit the front much to the delight of the huge Assen crowd.
Lorenzo was on the move as he passed Crutchlow for fourth and began to close on Marquez, but the defending world champion was unable to sustain his challenge and lost fourth place to Crutchlow with 12 laps remaining.
Marquez caught and passed Pedrosa at the chicane with nine laps to go and set off in pursuit of Rossi, but the Italian MotoGP legend responded in style to stretch his lead from 1.1s to 1.5s on the next lap.
Rossi was in charge and Marquez soon came under threat from Crutchlow, who also edged ahead of the slowing Pedrosa with five laps to go.
Lorenzo was safe in fifth ahead of Bradl, Bautista, and Espargaro.
Crutchlow was finishing the race strongly and began to attack Marquez three laps from the end.
However, the British star almost collided with Marquez at the beginning of the last lap and was forced to settle for a comfortable third as Rossi reigned supreme to take his 80th victory in the blue riband division, 12 wins ahead of Giacomo Agostini, who won 68 premier class races during a glittering career.
1. Valentino Rossi
2. Marc Marquez
3. Cal Crutchlow
4. Dani Pedrosa
5. Jorge Lorenzo
6. Stefan Bradl
7. Alvaro Bautista
8. Aleix Espargaro
9. Bradley Smith
10. Andrea Dovizioso
11. Nicky Hayden
12. Randy De Puniet
13. Andrea Iannone
14. Michele Pirro
15. Karel Abraham
16. Danilo Petrucci
17. Colin Edwards
18. Claudio Corti
19. Yonny Hernandez
20. Hector Barbera
21. Bryan Staring
22. Michael Laverty
23. Ivan Silva