Photo: Yamaha Racing MotoGP

Dutch MotoGP: Never rule out The Doctor as Rossi wins at Assen

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Assen, the Cathedral of Speed and one of the most iconic circuits on any racing calendar, saw MotoGP roll up this past weekend for the eighth round of the championship, the Dutch Grand Prix.

Last year wet weather threw the whole race up in the air and eventually saw Jack Miller take his first ever premier class win and on an independent bike - shunning all of the critics who said it couldn't be done.

In typical Dutch fashion, the rain poured heavy into race day once again and iit was Johann Zarco who lined up in pole position, securing his first ever top class pole position with the independent Yamaha Tech3 team.

Marc Marquez and Danilo Petrucci rounded off the front row. Most notably, however, Jorge Lorenzo lined up in 21st position - his worst ever MotoGP qualifying on his factory Ducati.

Zarco would lead away when the lights went out and it looked as if he was controlling the race pace as he began to slowly break away from the pack behind him.

The 2016 Moto2 champion had opted for the soft tyre option - a strange choice considering the track conditions at the time and with 15 laps to go, he was battling Rossi at the front.

The Italian legend would run wide at Ossebroeken, with Zarco seeing his chance to get underneath the factory Yamaha but as Rossi moved back in the pair touched, forcing the Tech3 rider to drop back to third behind Marquez.

With the rain returning at the start of lap 19, the white flags came out meaning that all riders could pit to change bikes if they wanted to. Zarco was the first to take the gamble, coming out of pit lane with full wets but the Frenchman was later given a ride through penalty for exceeding pit lane speed limits.

Back at the front and Rossi was making a lead for himself, with Petrucci his main rival in the final part of the race. The pair swapped positions, with Dovizioso and Marquez doing the same behind them.

Championship leader Maverick Vinales was out of the race after crashing out earlier on and it was everything to play for as the Spaniard's championship lead hung in the balance. Dovizioso, winner of the last two races, was clearly intent on scoring as best as he could, knowing full well that he could soon be the new championship leader.

On the last lap it came down to the wire, as both Rossi and Petrucci were hampered by backmarkers Hector Barbera and Alex Rins. Although Rossi dealt with them easily, Petrucci found it more difficult, claiming that no blue flags were shown and they had possibly cost him his maiden win.

Ultimately, it was Valentino Rossi who took his first win since Barcelona 2016 from Danilo Petrucci and Marc Marquez on the Honda. Britain's Cal Crutchlow brought it home in 4th place after a hard fought battle with Dovizioso who finished less than half a second behind.

Last year's Assen winner Jack Miller finished in 6th, with Karel Abraham and Loris Baz both having spectacular races and finishing in 7th and 8th respectively. Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top 10.

Andrea Dovizioso now leads the championship by four points from Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi with MotoGP returning to the Sachsenring next weekend for round nine of the championship, the German Grand Prix.

 

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