Today the TT Circuit Assen hosted the closest battle of the 2018 MotoGP season so far. At one point the front group consisted of eight riders and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were in the mix, both having the pace to fight for the win. The Dutch fans were on the edge of their seats as the ranking order kept changing. Since today is also Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.’s 63rd anniversary, the factory riders were extra eager to secure a place on the podium. Ultimately it was Viñales who took third, whilst Rossi was ran wide in the latter stages of the race and finished in fifth place.
Starting from sixth on the grid, Viñales was lying in ninth place as he approached the first corner, before settling into eighth as he completed the first lap. After six laps he moved up to sixth place and tapped onto the back of the five-rider group fighting for the lead, bringing Cal Crutchlow and Johann Zarco with him.
Following a scrapping session with Zarco, Viñales passed Rossi on lap 12. Next on the list was Alex Rins, and with 11 laps to go the younger Yamaha rider secured fourth, closely followed by the other Movistar Yamaha bike. He was at that time the fastest rider on track, and whilst battling with his teammate he managed to overtake Jorge Lorenzo. Soon after he passed Marc Marquez for second place, at the start of lap 18, and went on to take the lead from Andrea Dovizioso with eight laps to go.
However, a big wobble cost him time and saw him fall back behind Marquez to second place. The number 25 rider kept close, but they both ran wide, dropping him back to fourth. Yet, he still was not out for the count. Viñales fought his way back to second on the penultimate lap but came just came short trying to hold Rins behind him to the finish line. Despite a sensational last run through the Geert Timmer chicane, he ended the race in third place, just 0.039s from second and a 2.308s gap to first.
At the start of the race, Rossi briefly fell back from third to fifth place, but soon regained his original grid position before the end of lap 1. The Doctor didn’t want the two front men to escape and pushed hard in the early laps. At the end of lap 4 he launched his first attack on Marquez and made it stick.
Next up was Lorenzo, but contact between the two riders meant the Italian lost some time. It couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient moment, as the pressure from behind started to build up. On lap six the leading group had grown to a total of eight riders.
Rossi dropped back as far as seventh due to the constant attack, but he is known for his quick comebacks. He worked his way back up the order, all the while also battling with his teammate. He was lying in fourth place until 5 laps before the end, when Marquez and Viñales ran wide. The crowd favourite took the opportunity to lead the race for the first time as they crossed the start/finish line, but it wasn’t to last. The others were not letting him get away and pushed him back to fourth. Rossi, however, had fight left in him. He regained second place, but this time he ran wide after almost colliding with Dovizioso in turn 1. With less than two laps to go, he was pushing 100 per cent. He managed to put in a final overtake on Dovizioso in the last corner, but it didn’t stick, making the Yamaha rider cross the finish line in fifth place, 2.963s from first.
Rossi’s fifth place keeps him in second position in the championship standings with 99 points, 6 points ahead of teammate Viñales, who remains in third position. Yamaha stayed in third place in the Constructor Championship, with a 35-point margin to first, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team remain in first position in the team standings and now have a 11-point gap to the second team.
MotoGP will be back in action in two weeks’ time at the Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, held at the Sachsenring from July 13th – 15th.
Position: 3rd – Championship: 3rd – Points: 93
“For sure I’m very happy. We’ve been studying how to improve the first laps, we worked hard, and it was good to feel strong, especially in the middle of the race. After that the tyre dropped a lot, but I think we can solve this pretty easily for the next races. The TT Assen track helps a little, because I’m fast here, but for the other tracks we need to continue to work hard. My plan today was to get to first place and push, that’s why I didn’t want to let Marc pass me in turn 9. Then I went very close to the gravel, because I braked so late. Anyway, it’s nice to be back and nice to be strong. We weren’t in the best position to win, because we started a little bit towards the back, but in the next races we need to think back to this weekend, because this strategy works. On lap 6 I rode a 1’34.1s. I thought I could ride faster towards the end, but I got a little bit of arm pump and couldn’t control the speed and it was crazy. Last year in Germany was a good race, I was quite strong, and we need to keep working like this. We know the way to go fast in Sachsenring, so it’s time to work and get the job done.”
Position: 5th – Championship: 2nd – Points: 99
“It was a wild race. I was so happy to be there, at the front, because it was exciting for all of the race, but I’m sad because I think I had the potential to arrive on the podium. The problem was that at the beginning I was very unlucky with Lorenzo. Lorenzo touched the curb and lost the front at a very high speed. I was already accelerating, but I overtook him in a good way, and we didn’t crash, so that was very good. After, during the race, it was very difficult and I tried to control the tyre degradation, because I had the soft option on the rear, so I knew that at the end it could be very much on the limit. With four or five laps to go I tried to attack. I was doing well, because I was in second place. When fighting with Dovizioso, he tried to overtake me in the first corner, but he arrived a little in delay so, unfortunately, I had to go outside of the track. We lost a lot of time, me especially. I think me and Dovi both had the potential to arrive on the podium and like this we arrived just in fourth and fifth place.”
Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing
“Today was a fantastic race for MotoGP. I can’t possibly imagine how many overtakes there were from start to finish. Both Maverick and Valentino had great form, so we’re a little disappointed we couldn’t have both riders on the podium today. Obviously, we also really wanted to win, but that said, it’s good to see Maverick back on the podium – a real confidence boost for him. The biggest difference today was that, despite both our riders not having the best start, we saw Maverick being more aggressive at the beginning of the race. I think that helped him today to stay with the leading pack, catch up, and take the well-deserved podium. Valentino could have definitely been on the podium as well if he hadn’t run wide in the latter stages of the race when he was close to Dovizioso. Now we move on to Sachsenring, which is generally not bad for us as well, so we’ll continue to work hard and push. But first I want to thank both our guys and the crew for their great efforts today.”
Determined Monster Yamaha Tech3 pair battles hard in Dutch GP thriller
For the eighth round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship Johann Zarco lined up in the third row of the grid and was fighting in the front group all over the demanding 26 laps race in order to eventually see the chequered flag in eighth position. Currently, the fast Frenchman sits in fourth position of the overall standings and is well in striking distance to P2, plus leading the independent riders championship with 81 points.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin had a tough time in his first ever MotoGP race at the challenging TT Circuit. The Malaysian fought hard with his fellow rookie Takaaki Nakagami in the latter stages and ultimately earned the newcomer laurels thanks to a penalty of his opponent. Yet, Syahrin aims to score points again in just a few days’ time at the German GP.
Position: 8th – Championship: 4th – Points: 81
“This Sunday was a happy day. I saw a few things in the Warm Up and said to the team it’s going to be difficult to fight and I want to make a few steps, just to be able to battle the guys, to be able to brake well and stay with them. I think, we did that step, so it has been a good feeling. The start was good, then Iannone overtook Rins and Rins had to go wide, anyway it has been complicate to gain positions in the beginning, but immediately I was feeling good, could pass Petrucci and came to Crutchlow and was able to stay with this fantastic group, that was riding well. I could stick with them, but it was not enough to really fight because we struggled during the weekend. Maybe it has been the step that was missing to be able to fight for the podium, but I need to be happy. Some good feelings are coming back and we are fourth in the championship, so in any case we need to keep being strong. Overall, it has been a great and funny race.”
Position: 18th – Championship: 17th – Points: 17
“I’m really sorry to my team! In the beginning of the race I had a good pace behind Dani Pedrosa. I had a good start, but the entry to the first corner was too tight and I didn’t pick the best line into it. Many riders passed me from the outside, so I tried to keep the pace and felt good. But suddenly after lap 10 I felt that my front tyre was dropping, I couldn’t brake really hard anymore and was not able to keep the good pace, which was maybe down to my tyre choice. In the end I can only try to learn from this. We know that we could fight for the points and something better than this position. I try to work hard and want to improve with this experience.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 – Team Manager
“It has been a tough weekend for Monster Yamaha Tech3. The entire weekend we saw that everybody was so close to each other. I think both, Johann and Hafizh worked really well and very hard. The qualifying was a bit of a disappointment as five seconds to the end of it, we were first and we ended up eighth. Although the start was again not ideal, we could see Johann fighting back and being in the front group, which was eighth riders all together until the last laps. You could have the feeling that he was hanging on there, clearly, he was struggling to keep the pace of the others and very wisely he made it to the flag, got eighth position and eight points for the championship, which is still giving us enough to remain fourth in the riders championship and we’re quite proud of it. But obviously it’s been another tough weekend, where I have to thank Johann, because he never gave up and I want to congratulate him for this. Hopefully the next few tracks are going to be a bit easier for us. On Hafizh’ side, I was really happy yesterday with the Qualifying and with the way everything went, but today his first lap was bad and the pace was not enough. It’s a big drop compared to what he has been showing us in Catalunya. We hoped we could make up a few points on Franco, but we just ended up 18thand honestly, it’s been disappointing. We knew from the start, that Hafizh didn’t like Assen, but to be a top MotoGP rider, you need to be fast everywhere and it didn’t happen this weekend. We could see in Barcelona, that he can be part of the best and of course, he is a rookie and still has a lot to learn. So, thanks for his dedication and let’s hope Sachsenring will be a bit easier to allow the whole team, including the riders to go on vacation with a positive feeling.”