Resurgent Rossi Back On Top At Assen

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Valentino Rossi clinched his first Grand Prix victory for two and a half years with a supreme performance in the TT Assen. The Italian took the lead early on and eased clear in the closing stages with Marc Marquez resisting a late challenge from Cal Crutchlow to come home second.

The big story in the run-up to the race was the reappearance of Jorge Lorenzo who had passed medical checks and was able to take the start, his performance thereafter was nothing short of sensational. Polesitter Cal Crutchlow was quickly swallowed up on the drag race to turn one with Pedrosa storming through from the second row to lead the field. Marc Marquez slotted into second while Rossi leapt straight up to third ahead of Stefan Bradl and Crutchlow. The LCR Honda didn’t have the pace to keep up with the leaders and astonishingly, that group of frontrunners included Lorenzo who had sliced through the field from his fourth row grid position.

Lorenzo only took three and a half laps before he was depriving Crutchlow of fourth with a move at Mandeveen but further up the order, the other factory Yamaha was also creating headlines. Rossi took advantage of a Marquez error at the final chicane to take second down the home straight and after following Pedrosa for a lap, ‘The Doctor’ dived past Pedrosa at the same chicane to move into the lead, triggering celebratory scenes in the grandstands.

Pedrosa sat behind the Yamaha for lap after lap but instead of mounting a challenge for the lead, Dani was coming under increasing pressure from his teammate in third. With nine laps to go, Marquez swept around the outside at the end of the Veenslang but carried too much corner speed, opening the door for Dani to regain second, but Marquez made absolutely sure when he tried again at the chicane.

Pedrosa’s next problem came in the form of Cal Crutchlow’s Yamaha with the Briton having dispensed with the tiring Lorenzo. Although he had deprived Jorge of two extra points, Cal was still able to do his factory colleague a favour by overtaking Pedrosa for third, doing so at the chicane six laps from home. Cal latched straight onto the back of Marquez’s Honda but an error at the start of the last lap forced him to stay where he was. Rossi was comfortably clear of the fight though and sent the packed grandstands into raptures as he cruised across the line for his first win since Malaysia 2010.

Marquez and Crutchlow completed the podium with title rivals Pedrosa and Lorenzo line astern in fourth and fifth, a heroic result for the reigning champion. Stefan Bradl rode a lonely race to sixth with Alvaro Bautista beating Aleix Espargaro to seventh. Bradley Smith gained two places on the last lap to finish ninth, knocking the factory Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden back to tenth and eleventh.

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