It was a day of mixed emotions for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team at the TT Circuit Assen today. Maverick Viñales delivered a strong race performance at the Motul TT Assen round, riding his YZR-M1 to a brilliant victory after a hard fight at the front. Valentino Rossi’s luckless streak continued in the Netherlands. He suffered a crash on lap 5, ending his challenge prematurely.
Viñales had a good start from P2, but a wobble in Turn 1 left him a bit unsettled. He fell back to fourth, which he held crossing the finish line for the first time. There was a small scrap between him and Marc Marquez early on, until the number-12 rider noticed the three front men getting away, prompting him to make his move. As he chased the race leaders, frontrunner Álex Rins crashed. It didn’t shake up the Yamaha rider though. He passed Joan Mir, and then the battle with Marquez and Fabio Quartararo really started.
The 24-year-old was in third place for a while and was having a good look behind Marquez with 14 laps to go, deciding carefully where he would make his move. He first led the race on lap 16, but Marquez proved difficult to shake. With 9 laps to go, the Yamaha rider ran wide going into Turn 1 and fell back to second place, but it was only briefly. He retaliated that same lap by using the Yamaha’s nimble character to perfection, reclaiming the P1 spot. It was the right moment to put his head down, and this time he broke free from his rival. He showed his incredible race pace, setting a personal best lap of 1’33.720s on lap 21. The Spaniard kept his concentration until the very end and took the chequered flag with a 4.854s advantage.
Rossi did well to manoeuvre himself through the busy mid-pack in the early stages of the race. Setting off from P14, he held his position in the opening lap and gained a place on the next. He had found a set-up he liked in this morning's warm-up, and it clearly worked for him in the early stages of the race as he swiftly moved up to 11th place in lap 3.
However bad luck struck for the third time in a row. Eager to hit the front, the Italian attempted to overtake Takaaki Nakagami on lap 5 but suffered a fast crash in Turn 8, unfortunately taking his rival down with him. Thankfully the Doctor was quickly back on his feet and able to check on his fellow rider, but he could not resume his challenge.
Today's NC result means Rossi stays in fifth position in the championship standings with an 88-point gap to first. Viñales on the other hand moves up from eleventh to seventh in the rankings, with a 95-point margin to the top. Yamaha remains third in the constructor standings, whilst Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP gains one position, to third, in the team classification.
The team will be back in action next week, when the riders take on the Sachsenring for the German GP.
“We start with the positives. Maverick was strong all weekend and started the Dutch GP with the same confidence level he had in Barcelona. To have him battle at the front, which is where he belongs, and win in such a convincing manner is fantastic, especially in hot weather, the circumstances in which we struggled in the past. This win is an indication that we’re heading in the right direction and is a very important reward for both Maverick, his team, and Yamaha, because they have been working very hard. It also slightly makes up for the misfortune our team encountered in Catalunya. However, as much as we are happy for Maverick, we are disappointed for Valentino. The race is always tricky when you’re starting from more towards the back, but he had found something he liked in the morning and was on his way up the order when he crashed. It’s a shame, and also very unlucky that Nakagami was taken down too. In any case, we have learned from this weekend and head to the Sachsenring fully motivated to get to work.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
"It feels like I'm dreaming. These have been difficult times for me, because I've been out of the three tracks where I thought I had the most potential with the bike. My season has been difficult, but I've tried to keep the momentum from Catalunya, because I felt really good on the bike. I'm so grateful to the team, because they did a great job this weekend and prepared well for the last laps of the race. I was strong, even one-to-one on the brakes, I knew I could make the overtakes. It was very important to relieve some of the pressure by taking a victory. I think the team will be more relaxed now. Being back on the top step of the podium again feels really good and bringing Yamaha back to its winning ways is the most important to me. We knew we had the potential but hadn't been able to show it. It's always a combination between the team's, the rider's, and the bike's efforts. Sachsenring is a track I'm usually fast at, so we'll try our best."
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
"I was quite fast, so I tried to recover some positions. I was battling with Nakagami and I tried to overtake him, entering Turn 8, but I was a bit too much off the line, I think. When I entered the corner, I lost the front and unfortunately I also took out Nakagami, so that's a great shame and I have to say "sorry". It was a mistake and a pity, because today, after being slow this weekend, we had found something, so during the race I was good. I felt good with the bike. So, on one side this makes it an even bigger shame, but on the other side it's also important to realise that I was suffering too much this weekend and that we need to be stronger."