You have to admit, this was probably the best and the most eventful race weekend this year. It was one that clearly showed what mental strength these talented riders are capable of. This weekend we saw a star rise again, we saw a champion overcome immense physical trauma and show his immense mental strength, we saw a rookie that continues to prove that he knows no fear and finally we saw a rider who is up there with the best on the best motorcycles just because of his immense talent. Valentino Rossi rode superbly for his first victory since returning to the Yamaha Factory Racing team, the Italian rider taking full advantage of his best qualifying position of the season to take the top step of the podium at Assen.
The nine-time World Champion held his fourth position from the grid into the first turn then started looking for a way past Stefan Bradl for third. By the second lap he was past and with just 22 laps to go he moved past Marc Marquez into the first corner for second, beginning the hunt for Dani Pedrosa and victory. It took just one lap more and Rossi was able to dive past Pedrosa into the final chicane for a race lead he would hold to the flag, crossing the line to a sea of yellow flags and a well deserved return to form. The win puts Rossi on 85 points, now just two behind Cal Crutchlow in fourth place.
The World Champion, Lorenzo, gave everything he had and more, defying the pain from collarbone surgery just 36 hours ago in a heroic effort to race. Lorenzo had started from 12th on the grid but had risen to eighth by turn three. By the second lap he had climbed to fifth and was chasing down satellite Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow in fourth. With 23 laps to go he had passed Crutchlow and began to close the gap to Marquez in third. As the laps wound down exhaustion set in and with 11 to go Lorenzo was re-passed by Crutchlow. With grim determination he managed to maintain pace for fifth position and rolled into the Yamaha pits to an applauding team. The remarkable feat means Lorenzo holds second in the Championship.
Cal Crutchlow made a stunning return to the podium in a classic Dutch TT encounter this afternoon. The 26-lap battle was a nail-biting affair from start to finish and a fantastic charge in the second half of the race secured British rider Crutchlow a third rostrum in the last four races and ensured once again that he was unmatched as the outstanding non-factory rider.
Starting from pole position for the first time in his premier class career after a sensational qualifying performance yesterday, Crutchlow found himself down in fifth place once the flag went down. With 90,000 fans gripped by the exciting action, Crutchlow’s podium challenge commenced when he seized fourth from heroic reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Crutchlow disposed of Lorenzo’s threat at the final chicane on lap 15 and he then moved into the rostrum places with an identical move to get by World Championship leader Dani Pedrosa on lap 21. The former World Supersport’s blistering speed then saw him brilliantly hunt down Marc Marquez for second as the race reached an enthralling climax. Eager to equal the career best second place he scored in Le Mans last month, Crutchlow came close to pulling off a thrilling overtake at the first corner on the final lap. Marquez though was not to be outdone and after coming close to contact, Crutchlow momentarily ran off track before recovering to claim a richly deserved fifth MotoGP podium. Check out the updated championship standings along with post race rider quotes here.
Track temperatures today were at the highest level recorded all weekend, with a peak measurement of 32°C recorded in the latter half of the twenty-six lap race. The warmer conditions resulted in some riders making a late decision to switch to the harder front slick option, with all but two of the riders selecting this tyre for the race. Rear tyre choice was uniform across the grid, with all riders selecting the softer rear slick available to them; the medium-soft compound rear slick for the works riders, and the soft compound rear slick for the CRT riders. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa still leads the MotoGP championship standings after placing fourth in today’s race, extending his points lead over Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. Marquez remains third overall and twenty-three points off the championship lead.