Marquez Takes Assen Podium to Tighten Title Fight

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) rode a dazzling race in the trickiest of conditions in today’s Dutch TT, scoring a third-place finish that moves him to within 11 points of the World Championship lead.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquezzoom
Marc Marquez

The result was also historic because it marks the 400th premier-class podium for Repsol Honda and the 400th premier-class podium by a Spanish rider.

The eighth round of the 2017 MotoGP series was staged in typical Assen weather, with drizzle falling during the closing stages of the race, making conditions particularly treacherous. The track became slippery enough for some riders to change to their second bikes equipped with rain tires, but the leaders all stayed out on slicks.

Reigning World Champion Marquez was in the lead group for most of the race, battling back and forth with winner Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), runner-up Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) and pole-sitter Johann Zarco (Yamaha).

When rain started to fall and grip was drastically reduced Marquez had a couple of scares and sensibly decided that he needed the points, not a crash. He slipped behind the two leaders and spent the last few laps fighting for the final podium position with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).

On the last lap the 24-year-old Spaniard made a stunning move on Crutchlow in the final high-speed corner at Ramshoek, which gave him his eighth successive podium at the Dutch track.

At the flag the trio contesting third place was separated by just over a tenth of second. Marquez’s fourth podium of the year was vital to his championship hopes, moving him closer to new points leader Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), who crashed out of the race to lose the championship lead he had held since the opening race in March.

The top four riders – Dovizioso, Vinales, Rossi and Marquez – are now covered by just 11 points.

Crutchlow was disappointed to miss out on a podium finish but also pleased with his afternoon’s efforts. The 31-year-old Briton came into his own when the rain arrived, shrugging off the bad feeling that had him struggling in yesterday’s wet qualifying session. The result was his best since he took fourth place in April’s Grand Prix of the Americas.

Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) rode to his best result of the season with a fighting sixth-place finish. Starting from 13th on the grid, the young Australian rose through the ranks in the rain, just like Crutchlow.

Former Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) bounced back from a difficult Saturday to finish 12th. The Spaniard gained six positions in the closing seven laps, taking 12th place from Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) on the final lap.

Pedrosa had a difficult weekend, unable to get enough temperature in his tires in the cool and sometimes wet conditions. The former 125cc and 250cc World Champion eased off a fraction when the rain came in the closing stages, which reduced temperature in his tires, consequently reducing grip and causing him to drop from ninth in the last half-dozen laps.

The Honda-powered Moto2 race was a real thriller: a breath-taking high-speed brawl between six riders that ended with Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) taking his fifth victory of the year on the final lap to increase his World Championship points lead.

The advantage changed constantly throughout the 24 laps, with a mid-race rain shower further complicating the situation. There were five different leaders, with the lead pack fighting for position but always aware that the race result would come down to what happened on the last lap.

Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) led into the last lap, aiming to score his first victory of the year, but Morbidelli overtook at the De Bult left-hander, with just eight corners remaining. The 22-year-old Italian reached the checkered flag just 0.158 seconds ahead of the Swiss, with the top five finishers separated by less than seven tenths of a second.

The last place in the podium went to last year’s Assen winner Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) who passed Mugello victor Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) at the final chicane. Pasini got to the finish line first but was judged to have exceeded the track limits, so the Italian was classified fourth, just ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM).

The only member of the top six not to lead at some point was Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), who won last time out at Barcelona. Marc’s younger brother was in the thick of the lead pack for much of the race but faded in the final few laps to finish a lonely sixth, comfortably ahead of Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex), who survived a huge moment at the chicane.

Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40 Kalex), Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) and Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) completed the top ten.

Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) won the Moto3 race, leading a Honda clean sweep of the first five places. The 17-year-old Spaniard took his second Grand Prix win after timing his final-lap attack to perfection to narrowly win a manic 11-rider contest.

Just 0.98s covered the first nine riders at the checkered flag, after late fallers (Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team Honda NSF250RW) and Bo Bendsneyder (KTM) reduced the leading group.

Assen’s famous Geert Timmer Bocht chicane has resolved many encounters at the historic Dutch track, and once again it came down to the final braking zone. Canet had worked his way through after a poor start to take his place among the leading riders on the final lap. At the chicane he expertly passed Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) to secure the win.

World Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) made a mistake near the end of the final lap that allowed Canet, Fenati and Scotland’s John McPhee (British Talent Team Honda NSF250RW) to get past. He crossed the line in ninth to maintain a good points lead over Canet.

Pole-sitter Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) made a fine comeback from a mistake at Ramshoek to place fourth, with Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) scoring his best result of the season in fifth. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) was in the leading group throughout and finished eighth.

Riders now have just a few days rest before the ninth round of the 2017 season gets underway at the Sachsenring in Germany. The German Grand Prix is the final race before MotoGP’s four-week summer break.

Cal Crutchlowzoom
Cal Crutchlow

Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 3rd
“I’m very happy with the podium and with our race, as we were competitive enough in the dry at this track, which isn’t one of the best for us. Of course conditions were quite tricky and in this kind of situation you can lose or gain many points. I opted for the ‘safe’ option, more or less. Maybe I would have been able to try and fight for the victory, but honestly I had some warnings and thought it too dangerous for the Championship, so I decided to be consistent in the race and to push hard at the end. I paid close attention as it was hard to understand where the limit was, but in the end I was able to manage well. We’re just 11 points down on the lead and that’s important, no matter the fourth position. Now we go to some circuits that could be better for us, so let’s keep working hard and see what happens.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: 4th
“I’m pleased to finish and pleased to finish fourth. I was a little disappointed with my pace in the middle of the race, I had some sort of problem with my front tire and I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. But I still thought we were on for a good result and kept battling. I got a bad start and that really hindered me, as well as not starting from the front rows. I think that really cost me the podium or even the chance to fight for the win because the pace was not drastically fast. After it started to rain I kept a cool head, but I made a mistake by showing Marc (Marquez) and (Andrea Dovizioso) Dovi my hand, I went too early and should have passed them on the last lap. As it was, Marc just followed me and passed me on the second to last corner and there was nothing I could do. But it was a great fight, I really enjoyed it and credit to the podium guys.”
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 6th
“The first lap was not good, from my grid position I got stuck on the outside through all the right-hand corners and lost time, but once the group flattened out I got up to tenth in a group with Dani and Cal. I was a having nice fight with Dani and then the rain came. I kept my pace to keep temperature in the slick tires and pushed through to sixth. With more risks I might have been able to challenge for the podium but I wanted the points, this was a good result for me. I never thought about changing bikes, there wasn’t enough rain for wet weather tires.”
Tito Rabat, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 12th
“This was one of the most difficult weekends of the season for me as I did not have a good feeling in the cold and wet conditions. But for the race we made some important set-up changes and I was able score points, I am happy for this 12th place. When the rain came I thought to stop and change bikes but then realized it was not raining very hard so I stayed out but it was not an easy decision. Towards the end I was catching Pol Espargaro and I thought I may have a chance to pass him at the final chicane but it didn’t happen.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 13th
“Today the race was very difficult as I didn’t have a great start and I didn’t recover the positions I hoped to. I found myself quite a distance behind, despite the fact that I was able to lap well enough compared with the guys at the front. Later, when the rain arrived, I slowed down a little bit and immediately started losing temperature in the tires. I know that I’m very sensible in these kinds of situations and that next time I need to manage that better. I have to find a way to maintain the temperature in the slicks because when they get cold it becomes very difficult to get back on the rhythm and regain confidence. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to manage it better this weekend. The positive points are that I could make some good lap times early in the race and that I lost just one point on the leader in the Championship standings.”

Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes

Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 1st
“I gave absolutely everything in that race and that’s what makes the victory feel even more special. The battle was so intense that I was just doing all I could to stay in contention for the win in the last five laps. Once I could stay close for an attack at the end I was always confident I could take the win. I had to ride the final sector like the best in my life without making a mistake and I did that. It was perfect and nobody could try and overtake me at the final chicane. That was the toughest of my five wins by a long way and I’m pleased to show that I can still battle well and manage the fight when it is so strong. It was important to get back on the podium after the difficult last two races and it is the perfect way to end a dream day for me after confirming my MotoGP future with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.”
Thomas Luthi, CarXpert Interwetten: 2nd
“Morbidelli was very strong from the beginning of the weekend, but he was not the only one. That’s what made this race so intense, so spectacular. When I started the last lap with two tenths lead I knew that it would be difficult. Frankie passed me in turn nine, where he was the best of all and where he had already surprised me earlier in the race. I immediately thought about making an attack at the last chicane. But we were both at the limit and it would have been dangerous to try something. Once again we were strong, the team did a perfect job and to take a seventh podium in eight races means we are a very high level.”
Takaaki Nakagami, IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia: 3rd
“That race was amazing – it was a crazy race! At the beginning I was in the front group and everything was OK, then I got into first position and in the middle of the race I tried to go away from the other riders. But I was at the absolute limit! In the last few laps I made a mistake and suddenly I went from first position to fifth position. I thought it was game over. But I attacked again and overtook some riders. I was fast through the final sector, so this allowed me to attack Pasini at the final chicane and take third place. I’m very happy to be back on the podium!”

Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes

Aron Canet, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 1st
“I’ve always said that this circuit is one of my favorites, along with Le Mans and Austin, and I have shown that with victory today. At the beginning of the race I was a little far back, but I was able to reach the first group again and maintain a good strategy from start to finish. I was able to set myself up very well for the last lap. After overtaking Joan Mir, Fenati got past me, but I planned to take advantage of his slipstream to get the lead on the last corner and it was perfect. This race has increased my self-esteem; I dedicate the victory to my team, as I greatly appreciate the great work they’ve done throughout the weekend.”
Romano Fenati, Marinelli Rivacold Snipers: 2nd
“It was a great race, the first podium here at Assen. In the last few laps we struggled a lot. At the end, McPhee, Canet and Mir have fought before the long straight and left me the best trajectory. Then, I tried to stay ahead. I knew I hadn’t to be first at the last corner but I thought I had enough gap. I didn’t consider the wind and Canet was very fast in overtaking me. Anyway, I tried. I am very happy, we recovered points on Mir and we’ll try to do better at Sachsenring…”
John McPhee, British Talent Team: 3rd
“After the weekend we’ve had I’m absolutely delighted to be on the podium, so happy for me and the team to pull this result out after such a tough weekend. The race was great fun – starting from nineteenth was quite difficult but we had the rhythm and the pace and we kept chipping away. I realized I was catching the second group and the second group were catching the leaders. So I kept on fighting away and with about five laps to go I thought I could even win the race and that we had a real good chance. I timed everything perfectly going into the last lap in turns nine and ten… I tried to pass Canet and then Canet and Mir ran wide, but to claim the last step on the podium I’m really happy.”
Franco Morbidellizoom
Franco Morbidelli
Aron Canetzoom
Aron Canet
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017
Round 08: Netherlands Race
MotoGP Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
2 Danilo PETRUCCI (OCTO Pramac Racing)
3 Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)
6 Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
7 Karel ABRAHAM (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)
8 Loris BAZ (Reale Avintia Racing)
9 Andrea IANNONE (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
10 Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
11 Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
12 Tito RABAT (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
13 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
14 Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
15 Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)
Moto2 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
2 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
3 Thomas LUTHI (CarXpert Interwetten)
4 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
5 Fabio QUARTARARO (Pons HP40)
6 Xavier SIMEON (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2)
7 Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)
8 Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
9 Marcel SCHROTTER (Dynavolt Intact GP)
10 Axel PONS (RW Racing GP)
11 Dominique AEGERTER (Kiefer Racing)
12 Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)
13 Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)
14 Luca MARINI (Forward Racing Team)
15 Simone CORSI (Speed Up Racing)
Moto3 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
2 Romano FENATI (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)
3 John MCPHEE (British Talent Team)
4 Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)
5 Jules DANILO (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)
6 Marcos RAMIREZ (Platinum Bay Real Estate)
7 Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Racing Team)
8 Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)
9 Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)
10 Nicolo BULEGA (SKY Racing Team VR46)
11 Philipp OETTL (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing)
12 Juanfran GUEVARA (RBA BOE Racing Team)
13 Darryn BINDER (Platinum Bay Real Estate)
14 Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)
15 Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team)
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