Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi brought penned another stunning chapter in what is now the longest winning career in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing at the ‘Cathedral’ of speed, as #46 took his 115th win at the Motul TT Assen, more than 20 years after his first.
The nine-time World Champion completed a challenging weekend in mixed conditions with a superb win, giving him the longest winning career through all classes, spread over 20 years and 313 days.
Rossi kicked off the Dutch Grand Prix from fourth position as darker skies loomed, quickly slotting in behind Johann Zarco and Marc Marquez in third place, setting a provisional fastest lap of the race on lap three and four, with Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci tagging along.
The Doctor piled on the pressure with 17 laps to go and overtook Marquez a lap later in the first corner. He duplicated this manoeuvre on the next lap to take over the lead from Zarco, which was followed by a touch between the two in turn 4, but the Italian kept the lead. Four laps later the Factory Yamaha man inched away as his pursuers battled for second place.
The Doctor increased his lead to about a second, but with 8 laps left white flags came out as rain started to fall. Rossi was forced to lower his pace, allowing his rivals to close up. Adrenaline levels reached an all-time high for the VR46 fans as their hero fought tooth and nail to hold off his rival. Petrucci passed him with five laps to go, but the nine-time World Champion wasn’t going to let the win slip away that easily. A lap later he charged past his compatriot in the chicane to regain the lead.
The last laps were filled with drama as the pair had to deal with backmarkers, but Rossi held firm, taking a sensational win with a 0.063s advantage. Just six hundredths of a second was the distance between victory and podium, as Rossi just beat compatriot Petrucci over the line, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez winning a three-way fight for third to complete the rostrum in another close contest, beating Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) by 0.042 at the flag.
Rossi said: “I’m so happy, and for different reasons, because it’s a very important victory for the championship, but especially the feeling of coming back to the number one spot after one year is fantastic. Sincerely, I race with motorcycles for this feeling: for what I feel in the five or six final laps of the race. That’s always great and especially after a year without a victory. It was a great race and a great battle with Petrucci and everybody else. I’m also happy from a technical point of view, because we worked a lot on the bike and we changed the chassis and now I feel like I can ride the bike more in my own manner, in a better way. Everything is open and this year we discovered that, from one track to the other, the situation can change a lot. We have to wait for next week and try to be competitive also at the Sachsenring.”
Today’s results see Rossi move up to third place in the championship standings with a 108-point total. He is now three points behind his teammate Viñales in second place. The sensational win sees Yamaha hold the lead in the constructor championship with a 22-point margin and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP remain the leaders in the team standings by 28 points as they move on to Germany for the next round at Sachsenring in one week’s time.