Jack Miller took the first victory for an independent team in ten years as MotoGP’s 250th race delivered one of the most remarkable stories in the championship’s history. The Australian stormed through the field in wet conditions in a race that had to be restarted due to torrential rain, leading home Marc Marquez after Valentino Rossi had crashed out of the lead.
The Grand Prix began on a sodden circuit following heavy rain that curtailed the Moto2 race and Yonny Hernandez was the shock leader early on, finding a level of confidence and grip that no other rider could find. The Colombian scythed past Rossi for the lead on lap three before easing away but Aspar’s hopes of a shock win ended in heartbreaking fashion when Yonny slid out at turn one, just as the rain intensified.
Rossi now led a leading group of three containing polesitter Andrea Dovizioso and rain-master Danilo Petrucci but Scott Redding was hauling the trio in at three seconds per lap on the second Pramac machine. Just as the Briton was preparing to overhaul the leaders, race direction brought a halt to proceedings and threw the red flags, triggering MotoGP’s first use of the quick restart procedure.
Just as in the first part, Dovizioso lined up on pole having overtaken Rossi shortly before the stoppage but the factory Ducati man crashed out on lap two, losing control at the high speed turn twelve. This left Rossi in a comfortable lead from Marquez but the capacity crowd in the Netherlands were stunned when the Italian joined a growing list of casualties with a fall at Mandeveen. Dani Pedrosa, Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow and Aleix Espargaro had also come unstuck in the early going.
Marquez now inherited the lead but the unlikely challenger was now emerging in the form of Miller who had started the first part of the race in 18th, rising to eighth on the grid for part two. The Australian, who has shone in treacherous conditions before, dived past the championship leader at the Timmer chicane on lap four and with Marc deciding to bank a valuable twenty points, the coast was clear for Jack to claim MotoGP’s biggest underdog victory.
The final podium spot was also disputed between unlikely protagonists as Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding renewed their Moto2 rivalry of years gone by. The scrap would ultimately be settled in favour of the Briton who eased the Tech 3 Yamaha aside with two laps to spare. Andrea Iannone, who started the initial race from last on the grid and crashed seconds before the red flag, somehow scrambled his way to fifth while Hector Barbera and Eugene Laverty completed a Ducati-heavy top seven.
Stefan Bradl was eighth on a bittersweet afternoon for Aprilia who lost Alvaro Bautista to a crash on the final lap, while Maverick Vinales struggled in the wet conditions, trailing home in ninth. His problems paled in comparison to Jorge Lorenzo who endured one of the worst races of his career. The reigning champion was stone-last when the initial race was stopped and somehow salvaged six points for tenth thanks to the high number of drop-outs.
2016 Motul TT Assen (Race Result)
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