Valentino Rossi ended his twelve-month winning drought in style at Assen to catapult himself into the thick of the MotoGP championship battle. The Italian held off compatriot Danilo Petrucci after light rain fell in the closing laps and with Maverick Vinales crashing out of fifth place, Rossi is now just seven points behind new championship leader Andrea Dovizioso.
Johann Zarco had made the headlines on Saturday with a maiden MotoGP pole position and to his credit, the Frenchman led confidently early on from Marc Marquez with Rossi and Petrucci in close attendance. Rossi was the first rider to show his hand on lap eleven, outbraking Marquez for second, before repeating the move on Zarco moments later to grab the lead. Johann looked to snap straight back when the Doctor strayed wide at turn three but when the door was closed, Zarco tagged the back of the no.46 and fell to fourth.
Rossi appeared to be easing away at the front with Petrucci’s manoeuvre on Marquez for second splitting the leading group but the arrival of the rain on lap nineteen closed the pack together again. Eying a spectacular result, Zarco rolled the dice and pitted for a change of motorcycle under flag-to-flag rules but with the rain never intensifying enough to warrant wet tyres, Johann’s gamble backfired and relegated him to fourteenth.
Ultimately, the battle would be between Rossi and Petrucci with the Pramac rider hitting the front with five laps remaining but Rossi held his nerve, regaining the advantage at the final chicane a lap later before holding the Ducati off as they negotiated traffic on the final lap. Marquez came under late pressure from Cal Crutchlow and Dovizioso as the latter gained chunks of time in the drizzle but the reigning champion held on third ahead of the Briton with Dovizioso taking the series lead with fifth.
Jack Miller took advantage of Vinales’ demise to finish sixth while Karel Abraham pipped Loris Baz and Andrea Iannone for seventh while Aleix Espargaro completed the top ten for Aprilia.
2017 Motul TT Assen – Race Result
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