30 June 2001
Majestic first win for McWilliams!
There could not have been a more deserving winner of the 250cc Grand Prix at the daunting 6km Assen track, as Jeremy McWilliams dominated the Dutch TT to take his first ever GP victory – and the first British win since 1986.
The wet conditions at Assen on race morning had already played into the hands of McWilliams, as the Ulsterman fired a warning shot by leading the field in the soaking warm-up.
By the time the field assembled on the grid a few hours later the weather conditions had improved slightly, but the track was still 'wet' – though drying, and both McWilliams and teammate Rolfo took the decision to start the warm-up lap from the pitlane to give them the chance for a vital late tyre change.
As the red lights went out to signal the start of the race, pole sitter Tetsuya Harada made a terrible start (after a long delay before the light sequence began) while other front row starters Katoh, Melandri and McWilliams lead the way in first, second and third respectively.
Melandri passed Katoh for the lead half way around the first lap, with McWilliams following suite a corner later – then taking Melandri for the lead a few corners later, as the 37 year old revelled in the tricky conditions.
By the start of the second lap McWilliams and Melandri had begun to pull significantly away from Katoh, with Matsudo fourth and Porto now in fifth, while Harada was still down in fourteenth!
By the end of lap two the intermediate shod McWilliams was beginning to pull away – and one of the few riders not to have 'wet' tyres fitted, although Alzamora appeared to have slicks on in fourth, while de Gea was now up to third and apparently also on dry rubber – while the track was drying further.
Lap 4 of 18 and McWilliams had a lead of 8.7secs over Melandri, while de Gea and Alzamora hunted the young Italian (on a full wet set-up). One lap later and Alzamora was up to third ahead of de Gea, then took second from Melandri, as his tyres came into play.
Lap 6 and McWilliams held a 13.307secs lead over Alzamora, with de Gea now up third, ahead of Melandri, Boscoscuro, Rolfo, Katoh and Battaini.
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