Alex Marquez moved himself right into championship contention by winning the Dutch TT at Assen on a day when both leading title protagonists failed to score. Jack Miller and Romano Fenati endured a disastrous morning with a crash apiece and with Marquez leading an Estrella Galicia 1-2, the Spaniard is now just seven points off the series lead.
Miller had aced the start to lead Marquez around the opening lap but as the Australian tipped his KTM into turn one on the second lap, the front end washed out on him and sent him sliding into retirement. Jack was visibly furious with himself and his mood wouldn’t have been helped when he realised Fenati had gone straight across the gravel at the final chicane, completing the first lap in 30th. A golden opportunity to extend his points lead had been lost.
Christmas had come early for the Estrella Galicia team with Marquez leading from his teammate Rins while Miguel Oliveira had fought his way to the front of a wild chasing group in third. At half distance, a slight overshoot from Marquez at turn one gave Rins enough momentum to snatch the lead but within a lap, the younger Spaniard had regained the advantage and this time, wouldn’t relinquish it.
Instead of launching an attack for the lead, Rins fell back into the clutches of Oliveira with the Portuguese rider using the slipstream to great effect to dive through at Ruskenhoek. Alex won many a race in 2013 with supreme tactics though and his racing brain would secure him second on the last lap with Oliveira forced to go defensive into Ramshoek, leaving him wrong-footed into the final chicane.
The fight for fourth went right down to the wire and it looked set to involve Romano Fenati after a sensational recovery. The Italian had clawed his way up to eighth on lap fourteen and was firmly entrenched in the group but incredibly, with the championship lead in his grasp, Romano slipped up again and fell outside the top twenty.
The seven remaining riders in the pack were covered by just 0.336s over the finish line with Alexis Masbou getting his nose in front ahead of Niccolo Antonelli and Efren Vazquez, another rider whose title hopes have been boosted today. Isaac Vinales took seventh with Danny Kent and John McPhee eight and tenth respectively, sandwiching South Africa’s Brad Binder. For the record, Fenati did reach the chequered flag but not even a three-bike pile-up at the last chicane could promote him into the points as he limped home in eighteenth.