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Valentino Rossi at the 2017 Grand Prix of Netherlands

Rossi thrills at Assen to set new records

Jun 252017

Valentino Rossi dented Grand Prix statistics once more with his first victory of 2017 that also gave the Italian the longest winning career in FIM World Championship history with over two decades separating his maiden success to the latest 115th achievement at what was round eight of the current MotoGP campaign.

The ‘oven’ of Catalunya was swiftly forgotten among the rain, dark clouds and temperate conditions of Assen in northern Netherlands but there was still a special vibe surrounding the oldest Grand Prix on the calendar and an event that has been part of every FIM World Championship since the series’ inception in 1949.

Johann Zarco had excelled and pushed the limits of his Monster Yamaha Tech3 M1 to grasp a first-ever Pole Position in the premier class in what is just his eighth appearance on Saturday. The Frenchman was at the spearhead of the pack in the formative stages before he elected to enter the pitlane as a ‘Wet Race’ status was declared and rain dropped (he swapped bikes but placed 14th). It was at this point that Rossi ploughed onwards. The Italian triumphed for the tenth time at Assen and by just sixth hundredths of a second from Danilo Petrucci with Marc Marquez in third.

“I‘m so happy, and for different reasons, because it‘s a very important victory for the championship, but especially the feeling of coming back to the number one spot after one year is fantastic,” said The Doctor, who actually lost a few letters from the rear of his leathers after another close call with Zarco when the riders’ lines came together.

“Sincerely, I race with motorcycles for this feeling: for what I feel in the five or six final laps of the race. It was a great race and a great battle with Petrucci and everybody else. Everything is open and this year we discovered that, from one track to the other, the situation can change a lot. We have to wait for next week and try to be competitive also at the Sachsenring.”

"I’m pleased to finish and pleased to finish fourth,” he offered. “I was a little disappointed with my pace in the middle of the race, I had some sort of problem with my front tyre and I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. But I still thought we were on for a good result and kept battling. After it started to rain I kept a cool head, but I made a mistake by showing Marc [Marquez] and [Andrea Dovizioso] Dovi my hand, I went too early and should have passed them on the last lap. As it was, Marc just followed me and passed me on the second to last corner and there was nothing I could do. But it was a great fight, I really enjoyed it and credit to the podium guys.”


Jonas Folger went out of the GP early and Jorge Lorenzo suffered a hard weekend with a solitary point down in 15th with the factory Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso’s 5th position means the Italian is the new man to catch in MotoGP by just four points from Viñales.


“The battle was so intense that I was just doing all I could to stay in contention for the win in the last five laps. Once I could stay close for an attack at the end I was always confident I could. I had to ride the final sector like the best in my life without making a mistake and I did that. It was important to get back on the podium after the difficult last two races and it is the perfect way to end a dream day for me.”


The 22 year old maintains first spot in Moto2 with a gap of 12 points over Thomas Luthi.


A relatively short trip south and to the tight and twisty and demands of Sachsenring is next on the MotoGP slate with the Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland taking place next weekend.