The 75th Dutch TT at Assen, the last MotoGP event to held at the legendary circuit before much of its northern loop is removed, has been won by world champion Valentino Rossi
- who took his sixth victory of the season from seven events after fighting his way back from a poor start and withstanding intense late race pressure from Marco Melandri.
As many had suspected, the heat wave which had baked the Assen circuit for the past two days was replaced by rain on race day morning - resulting in a wet warm-up session led by Marco Melandri
and Shinya Nakano.
However, by the time the 21-rider MotoGP grid assembled for the race several hours later - with a top six of Rossi, Gibernau, Melandri, Nakano, Hayden and Edwards - the sun was starting to break back through the overcast sky and shine onto the now totally dry, if breezy, 5.997km circuit.
When the red lights went out, Gibernau rocketed away from the middle of the front row to lead Movistar team-mate Melandri, Repsol rider Hayden, Nakano's Kawasaki and then Rossi into the fast flick that is turn one.
As they emerged on the other side, Nakano slotted into third while Melandri would waste no time in barging past Gibernau for the lead. Meanwhile, Rossi was going in the opposite direction, having lost a further place to Ducati's Capirossi and facing pressure from team-mate Edwards.
By the end of the first of 19 laps, Melandri had pulled a 0.5secs lead over new second placed man Hayden with Gibernau, Nakano and Capirossi still ahead of Rossi. However, after several unsuccessful attempts, the #46 finally put a definitive move on the Ducati into the final chicane at the end of lap two - then immediately launched ahead of Nakano's ZX-RR to take fourth by turn one of lap 3.
But Rossi wasn't the only factory Yamaha on the move, with Edwards demoting Capirossi down to seventh on the same lap, and then making short work of Nakano, before setting his sights on the recently established lead group of Melandri, Hayden, Gibernau and Rossi ahead of him.
Hayden, having benefited from a good start, was looking at his most competitive since the Jerez season opener; the American riding aggressively to keep well in touch with Melandri up front, but would find himself forced off the racing line - at the banked 'horseshoe' left hander - when Gibernau steered his RCV underneath him.
That move marked the end of Hayden's podium hopes, since Rossi also slotted ahead while Nicky was recovering his line, and by lap 7 the #69 would lose yet another position as countryman Edwards dropped him to fifth.