There was little majestic or biblical about the rainy climate at Assen in Holland for the eighth round of MotoGP as the series visited one of the institutions of the sport with a long and distinguished history and a special course that has morphed with the seven decades it has staged Grands Prix. Monster Tech3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro survived a restarted MotoGP race and some slick conditions that claimed the likes of Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Valentino Rossi to post his best result of the season on the M1 and with a damp but capacity crowd looking on.
“To come away from a tricky event like today with 4th position in conditions that were completely wet, is like a dream for us,” the Catalan said. “Of course there is a bittersweet taste in my mouth as I just missed out on the podium again, yet with all the crashes that we saw, I had to be careful and think about the championship.”
“I can say that I believe I have been competitive in wet conditions for the first time since I’ve been in MotoGP,” he added. “However my legs, arms, fingers, neck and whole body are now aching from the huge tension that we had while riding in these conditions.”
Rossi was looking to win the soaking wet 12-lap reset but slipped into the Dutch run-off at turn ten after just two laps, ruining his bid for a second victory on the bounce and his third of the campaign. “It‘s a great shame considering our great level of speed and competitiveness this weekend with our bike at this track,” the Italian said. “We could have gotten some important points for the championship after a difficult weekend and we could have taken second place in the championship over Lorenzo, but unfortunately I made a mistake.”
Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo teetered to tenth. “These are important points for the championship, in the first race I would not have scored any,” he said of his haul of 6, leaving him 24 adrift of Marc Marquez and 18 ahead of Rossi who rued his third DNF of the campaign. “Marquez also scored a lot of points today, but Rossi, who could have recovered points, lost a lot. Ultimately we were able to save a difficult weekend. Before Le Mans we were also around 24 points behind and now we are more or less in the same situation, after two difficult races, so we have to think positive and keep in mind that we still have a lot of races to recover the gap to Marquez.”
Moto2 saw Franco Morbidelli toast third place ahead of Sam Lowes on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 VDS machine for what his second career podium finish and the Italian’s first of ’16. “We have had this potential since the first race of the season,” he enthused. “I want to dedicate this first podium to every single person in the team because they deserve it.” Alex Rins came home in sixth, which means the rider from Barcelona now ties Johann Zarco for the series lead.
Pecco Bagnaia headed a quintet of Italians in Moto3 for the Mahindra rider’s (and the Indian Constructor’s) very first Grand Prix victory. “I didn’t believe it when I saw the chequered flag…but we knew that we were fast and strong this weekend,” the nineteen year old said. “Every lap I wanted to stay in first position as I knew that the rain could arrive at any time, and it was really important to stay at the front of the group. In the last two corners I thought it was impossible to get first, but finally I just did it.”
Just 0.018 seconds split the top three in another frantic Moto3 affair in which another ‘first’ was achieved by Sky Racing Team VR46’s Andrea Migno spraying champagne in third place. The rest of the Sky collective placed high on the leaderboard with Romano Fenati fourth and Nicolo Bulega rounding out the top seven.
MotoGP weathered Assen after a two-week break and the championship now goes into another fortnight spell of hibernation until the compact winding cambers of Sachsenring stages the Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland on July 17th.