As the MotoGP World Championship is coming to its first half it was time for the famous Dutch TT at the circuit of Assen. It was Johann Zarco with his Yamaha Tech 3 who took his first ever MotoGP pole position. Marc Márquez and Danilo Petrucci made it to the front row as well.
Valentino Rossi, Scott Redding and Jonas Folger qualified to the second row. Álvaro Bautista, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso started from the third row.
It wasn’t very good qualifying for the Championship leader Maverick Viñales who started from 11th place (row 4). It was wet qualifying and Jorge Lorenzo showed once again that these were not his favourite conditions. He qualified only as P21 so it was 7th row start for him.
Alex Rins (Suzuki) and Bradley Smith (KTM) were ready and back in the business after their injuries.
Before the race the track was dry but it was cloudy and the chance of rain was quite high. All teams prepared the second bikes in the pit lane.
With air of 19°C and track 26°C it was also crucial to choose the tyres. There were lots of diverse tyre strategies. From soft – soft combination (e.g. Zarco) to medium – hard combination (e.g. Viñales).
When the race was started it was Zarco who changed his pole position into the lead. Márquez went 2nd and Rossi 3rd.
At the beginning of the race Jonas Folger went wide and he put himself down to P23 which was last position. He tried his best to come back to fight at least for a few points but 17 laps to go he crashed.
Meanwhile Johann Zarco was in the lead about 0.5 second ahead of Márquez, Rossi, Petrucci and Redding.
Both Viñales and Lorenzo had quite a good start and they moved a few positions ahead. Viñales was 10th, Lorenzo 17th. How the race was going they were moving some more places up.
Meanwhile Scott Redding set the fastest lap of the race in lap 6.
The leading group was created and there were Zarco, Márquez, Rossi and Petrucci. These four riders were making some gap and trying to escape from the rest of the riders. Behind there was Scott Redding who was leading the other group of some riders.
In that time Sam Lowes (who made it to Q2 on Saturday for his first time in MotoGP) crashed and didn’t continue in the race.
In lap number 11 Valentino Rossi moved to 2nd place but it was still Johann Zarco in the lead. Márquez and Petrucci were behind Rossi.
Maverick Viñales already made it to the second group there and he overtook Redding and Dovizioso (who was doing great lap times there) and was already on 5th place. But in that 11th lap the Championship leader crashed from the race!
In that time Rossi tried to overtake Zarco but it was quite close there. However, Rossi kept P1, Márquez moved to P2 and Zarco fell to 3rd place.
With 14 laps until the end of the race Rossi was in the lead, Márquez was behind and Petrucci already made it to third place. Johann Zarco was racing on fourth place.
A few laps later Petrucci overtook also Márquez and he was 2nd. In that time Bradley Smith wasn’t in the race anymore as he crashed.
Behind the front group there was very fast Andrea Dovizioso who was catching them. Álvaro Bautista was behind but he crashed.
In that time the white flag appeared. It meant just one thing. There were some drops of rain so the riders were allowed to swap the bikes if they wanted. The first one who tried this gamble was Johann Zarco. Later also Héctor Barberá, Jorge Lorenzo and Alex Rins tried to go to the pit lane and swap the bike for the one with tyres for wet conditions. But the rain wasn’t very heavy, there were just some drops in some parts of the track.
Valentino Rossi was still in the lead, Danilo Petrucci was on the 2nd place and Andrea Dovizioso managed it to move to 3rd place. Dovizioso made it to P2 for a while even. But later Petrucci retook this position.
With these track conditions it was like water of life for Crutchlow, Miller and Baz who started to move some positions up. Especially Crutchlow was very fast.
With 5 laps to go Danilo Petrucci went into the lead but later Rossi overtook him back. These two made some small gap to the rest. Behind them there was duo Márquez and Dovizioso but Crutchlow catched them so it was a group battling for P3 in the race. And it was Crutchlow who made it to 3rd place 2 laps to go.
In that time Johann Zarco got the ride through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He went to the pit lane for that penalty in the last lap. So it was very unfortunate race for the poleman.
In the last lap Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci caught some lapped riders so it was bit complicated but Rossi made small advantage and he kept the lead until the end. He took his 10th victory in Assen across all the categories he raced in.
Danilo Petrucci was 2nd and in the end it was Marc Márquez who won the battle for P3. Cal Crutchlow was 4th, Andrea Dovizioso 5th.
Jack Miller was 6th, Karel Abraham caught and overtook Baz and Iannone in the last lap so he took P7 which was his best season result and he also equaled his best ever MotoGP result. So Loris Baz was 8th (which is also his best season result), Andrea Iannone 9th and Aleix Espargaró completed top 10.
Pol Espargaró took some nice points for KTM as he was 11th, Tito Rabat was 12th, Dani Pedrosa only 13th, Johann Zarco 14th and Jorge Lorenzo 15th. Héctor Barberá and Alex Rins finished the race but without any points. Lorenzo, Barberá and Rins were lapped.
Scott Redding, Álvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith, Maverick Viñales, Jonas Folger and Sam Lowes didn’t see the chequered flag.
The situation in the Championship is now open and very interesting. The first four riders are separated by just 11 points! Andrea Dovizioso takes the position of the Championship leader with 115 points, Maverick Viñales has 111 points, Valentino Rossi has 108 points and Marc Márquez has 104 points. Then behind them there is Dani Pedrosa with 87 points.
Yamaha keeps both, the Constructors’ lead and also the Movistar Yamaha leads in the Teams’ standing.
No time to relax as next MotoGP round is aleady next week with all moving to Germany, Sachsenring.