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Maverick Viñales at the 2018 GP of Netherlands
NEWS

Viñales back in the champagne spray after Assen stunner

Jul 022018

The TT Assen circuit is steeped in history and the eighth round of MotoGP was also the 70th visit to a site that has seen motorcycle racing evolve through so many changes and technical innovations. Thankfully the lap counters at Assen are now automated: it would have been a stretch too far for any person to chart the position changes from a lead group of nine riders in what was the most gripping and sensational spectacle of the season so far.

The eighth round of nineteen involved a hefty 26-lap chase that took place under wide blue skies and with a strong breeze cooling the capacity-filled facility. From the first cuts-and-thrusts of the race MotoGP resembled the fairing-bashing-inches-separated bedlam of Moto3 instead with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in the thick of it; at one stage the Italian unintentionally rammed the rear end of the Ducati through the rapid (and frighteningly fast) kinks.

The affair saw five different leaders and the gaggle was joined by a rampaging Maverick Viñales who pushed so hard that he complained of arm-pump post-race. The Spaniard ran wide in his dispute with Marc Marquez at the peak of the posse and the world champion was able to break away to claim the chequered flag in the last three laps.

 

Viñales rallied to try and demote Alex Rins for second spot. A brilliant trajectory and momentum into the final chicane was not quite enough to depose his countryman from the second podium platform; the difference was less than a tenth of a second at the line.

“We‘ve been studying how to improve the first laps, we worked hard, and it was good to feel strong, especially in the middle of the race,” said #25 on his first rostrum appearance since round three and on Yamaha’s 63rd birthday. “The TT Assen track helps a little, because I‘m fast here, but for the other tracks we need to continue to work hard. My plan today was to get to first place and push, that‘s why I didn‘t want to let Marc pass me in turn 9. Then I went very close to the gravel because I braked so late. Anyway, it‘s nice to be back and nice to be strong.”

 

Valentino Rossi came home fifth and remains Marquez’s closest challenger in the championship standings and was just ahead of Cal Crutchlow, Lorenzo and Johann Zarco.

 

“We‘ve been studying how to improve the first laps, we worked hard, and it was good to feel strong, especially in the middle of the race,” said #25 on his first rostrum appearance since round three and on Yamaha’s 63rd birthday. “The TT Assen track helps a little, because I‘m fast here, but for the other tracks we need to continue to work hard. My plan today was to get to first place and push, that‘s why I didn‘t want to let Marc pass me in turn 9. Then I went very close to the gravel because I braked so late. Anyway, it‘s nice to be back and nice to be strong.”

 

Valentino Rossi came home fifth and remains Marquez’s closest challenger in the championship standings and was just ahead of Cal Crutchlow, Lorenzo and Johann Zarco.

 

SKY Racing Team VR46’s Pecco Bagnaia ruled the Moto2 class for his fourth victory of the year and extended his lead in the series to 16 points over rival Miguel Oliveira. “We arrived here with just one point ahead and it was important to reopen the gap, taking advantage of the fact that I really like this track and that fits to my style,” said #42 who had previously triumphed at Assen in Moto3 in 2016. “It's always special for me to win here at Assen: I have to thank the whole team because they did a great job, we took a big step forward in qualifying and today we were really competitive. It was a really long and hard race, especially the last laps, when, due to the wind, it was difficult to manage the bike in the fastest corners.”

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