2017 Assen MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Greatness Rewarded

There are days when being a MotoGP journalist can be hard work. You spend hours each day trying to wheedle tidbits of information from unwilling conversation partners, then hours chasing round after riders. You top it off with hours trying to spin a day's worth of platitudes into something vaguely readable and semi-interesting, before hopping into bed for five hours' sleep, only to do it all over again. There were years when writing race reports containing any entertainment value was a hard slog through tiny details, as for much of the Bridgestone years, the riders would pretty much finish in the order in which they qualified. You keep doing it from a deep love of the sport, and the hope of better days.

You keep doing it for days like today. Sunday at Assen saw not one, but three breathtaking races. Each race was packed with a season's worth of drama, and combined spectacular passing, raw, undiluted speed, tricky weather conditions and surprise results from the first race through to the last. It was a reminder that majestic tracks produce phenomenal racing. A reminder that we are living through a new golden age of Grand Prix racing, with the outcome of any of the three races completely up in the air on any given weekend.

Above all, though, it was a reminder that we are watching giants of the sport at play. In twenty years' time, when MotoGP fans come to draw up their lists of the top ten racers of all time, at least half of the names they choose will have been on the grid on Sunday. Assen was a veritable cornucopia of racing greatness.

Rewriting the record books, again

It was fitting, then, that the winner of the MotoGP race should be the man widely regarded as arguably the greatest racer of all time. Valentino Rossi, through guile, guts, and sheer outright brilliance took the 115th Grand Prix win of his career, and his tenth victory at Assen. In doing so, he added yet another chapter to an already weighty volume of records and achievements in his career. He extended his winning career, becoming the first rider to win races over a twenty-year period, from his first victory in Brno 1996 to Assen in 2017. He became the seventh oldest rider ever to win a premier class Grand Prix race. He crept a little closer to Giacomo Agostini's astonishing total of 122 Grand Prix victories.

Above all, though, it brought to an end a year-long victory drought for Rossi, his last win coming at Barcelona in 2016. This, he explained, is exactly why he puts himself through everything he does, punishing mind and body to keep himself competitive. Winning is why he races, and the ability to win is what keeps him going. "After one year is a great feeling," Rossi told the press conference. "Also because sincerely I race with motorcycle for what you feel the five, six hours after the victory."

Thinking about all that statement entails puts Rossi's commitment and dedication into perspective. Valentino Rossi has won 115 Grand Prix in 21 seasons over all three classes. After each of those wins, Rossi has had six hours or so of elation. 115 six-hour periods of unalloyed joy adds up to 690 hours, or 28 days and 18 hours. To experience those 29 days of happiness, he has had to put in over 7600 days of solid, hard grind. Viewed that way, the rewards are all too brief compared to the years and years of toil to achieve them.

Sacrifice is the price

This, perhaps, is what is most unique about Rossi's achievement. Each year, Rossi has to work harder to win races, has to adjust his style again, sometimes reinvent it entirely. Each year, his frame grows more gaunt as he puts ever more effort into staying competitive, poring and fussing over every detail, always in search of a hundredth of a second here, and a thousandth of a second there. Yet he does it all gladly, because he knows that is what it takes. He proved in the early part of his career that his talent was beyond question. The longer he keeps racing, the more he allies that talent to a formidable work ethic and commitment to winning.

Yet on Friday, a win for Rossi seemed very far from a foregone conclusion. The new chassis they had tested at Barcelona had made a difference for the Italian, making it a lot easier to turn the bike. That was still the case after dry practice on Friday, though Rossi found himself firmly in the second group, behind a relentlessly fast Maverick Viñales, and the quietly impressive Jonas Folger. Did it look like Rossi could be competitive? Sure. But first he would have to find a way to stop Viñales, and if that wasn't enough, he would also have to fend off Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso.

Qualifying threw a spanner in the works. Or rather the miserable conditions in qualifying did. Johann Zarco became the first Frenchman to take pole in the premier class since 2002, a not wholly unexpected result. Marc Márquez and Danilo Petrucci also sat on the front row, neither of them a surprise. Rossi started from fourth, but the real news was his teammate Maverick Viñales. After dominating the first day of practice in the dry, the young Spaniard found no grip in the cold and damp, and was forced to start from eleventh.

Disaster foretold

That starting position would prove crucial for the race, and especially for the championship. With the race starting in dry conditions, Viñales knew he could make up ground given half the chance, and keep his losses to a minimum. He would have to ride aggressively, but if he could get close to the leaders in the first half of the race, he stood a chance at scoring decent points in the second half, and have a shot at retaining his lead in the championship.

When the flag dropped, it was Johann Zarco who took control, passing Marc Márquez into Turn 1 to lead the race. The Tech 3 Yamaha rider pushed hard from the start, his chosen combination of soft tires front and rear giving him some early speed. Though he opened a small gap early on, that advantage did not last. Within a couple of laps, Márquez was on his tail, bringing Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci along with him.

The four leaders broke away, quickly opening a gap of a couple of seconds. Behind them, Scott Redding fell back into the clutches of what turned out to be a fiercely competitive group consisting of eight riders. Viñales had latched onto this group, and was starting to work his way forward. He was determined to get past the riders ahead and chase the leaders down. By lap 11, he was at the head of the group and preparing to try to bridge the 3 second gap to Zarco, Rossi, Márquez, and Petrucci.

Known unknown

Viñales was in a hurry, and that hurry would cost him dearly. As he flicked his bike aggressively from right to left on the exit of the GT Chicane, the rear let go and catapulted him into the air and onto the track. His race was over. "It's something I cannot explain because I don't even know how I crashed," Viñales said after the race. Ironically, he gave away the cause of the crash in his next sentence. "I passed there 2,000 times and don’t crash. Today, I don't know, I was pushing myself over the limit."

Andrea Dovizioso was directly behind him, but so close that he didn't see how the crash started. Cal Crutchlow was behind Dovizioso, and unsighted due to the presence of the Ducati man. But both men had a reasonable explanation for why Viñales hit the deck on the exit of the chicane. "Viñales was so fast there," Crutchlow said. "When he was in front of me, he was changing direction so fast that when it picked up and took off, the thing was gone. But obviously he changed direction too fast. We've seen that crash quite a few times there over the years."

Dovizioso shared a similar opinion. "I think he was too aggressive in the change of direction, but I'm not sure, I didn't check the video," the Italian told us. "It was in front of me, but I was focused on my line at that time, I wasn't looking at him, so I didn't see how that crash started."

The crash was really one of impatience, though Viñales was adamant he didn't understand how it had happened. "This crash is something you cannot explain," he said, before going on to repeat just how strong he had felt and how much faster he had been than the other riders. Yet he had learned an important lesson from the crash. "In some races the fastest does not win, and finally we have to learn from that," he said. "Today was a race to learn and learn that in qualifying the maximum you can do is sixth or fifth maximum. So I know the mistake was from yesterday, not from today."

All up for grabs

With the championship leader out, the title chase was in disarray. The points gaps were suddenly an awful lot smaller, and the role of new leader now suddenly up for grabs. At the front, Valentino Rossi had taken over the lead, after an ill-directed pass by Johann Zarco had failed, and the Frenchman had clipped the back of Rossi's bike and dropped behind Márquez and Petrucci. Dovizioso was inching closer, an encroachment which would become a full-on charge a couple of laps later.

The rain was coming. At first, it was nothing but a very thin drizzle that had almost no effect, other than to plant the seeds of doubt in the heads of the riders. Morning warm up had started off in similar fashion, with a thin rain that had suddenly erupted into a torrential downpour. Would the same happen during the race? At first, the drizzle was manageable, though the riders at the front slowed down, while those behind speeded up.

But the rain made Johann Zarco nervous. Unsure of what would happen, he decided to pit when he saw the white flag. "When it began to rain I was really scared with the slick tires. We are already on the limit when it’s dry so you can imagine when it’s a little bit wet you can crash. I didn’t want to take this risk and I took the decision to come into the pit when they put out this white flag." He guessed that if the Dutch marshals were putting out the rain flag, then they knew that the rain was about to get bad. It didn't, and Zarco decided to pit and jump on his second bike with the wet weather setup. "If it was raining more then I could be a god," the Frenchman said.." Finally, from hero you go to zero but it’s part of the game."

Gambling man

Zarco wasn't the only rider who made that judgment. Jorge Lorenzo quickly followed Zarco's suit, heading into the pits to swap bikes. The Spaniard had been making good progress through the pack, getting up to thirteenth from a miserable twenty-first position on the grid. But when the rain came, Lorenzo had lost confidence, and pitted to swap to his wet weather bike. That proved to be a mistake.

It had been worth the gamble, as he was so slow on slicks in the wet, he argued. "It was spitting for three or four laps and then it stopped. The last three or four laps were almost completely, no spitting. So it was a gamble, knowing that in the warm-up it started to rain and then rained heavily. I was 13-14th so had nothing to lose. Maybe one point. But I could get seven or eight points more if it worked."

With Zarco out of the way and the front runners cautious, Dovizioso quickly bridged the gap to the leaders. Cal Crutchlow was coming too, but at that moment, all hell was breaking loose at the front. Riders were swapping positions quickly and brutally, forcing bikes through where they would only just fit. As Petrucci and Rossi were pushing hard at the front, Marc Márquez put a firm pass on Andrea Dovizioso when the Italian ran wide at Turn 1. That was enough to break the tow between the front four, splintering them into two groups: Rossi and Petrucci at the front, and Márquez and Dovizioso now too far behind to do any damage.

White flags, but no blue flags

The weather would play yet another role in determining the outcome. Danilo Petrucci was stronger through Meeuwenmeer, giving him more speed and acceleration through Hoge Heide and the Ramshoek, which would have been decisive in favor of the Italian. But as the laps ticked off, Rossi and Petrucci ran into back markers, and according to Petrucci, the marshals were not doing their job in waving the blue flag to indicate that those back markers should let Petrucci and Rossi through. Petrucci got close to Barbera at the end of the penultimate lap, and lost a few yards, then slammed into the side of Alex Rins, who was newly back from wrist surgery.

That collision cost Petrucci the tow, and according to Petrucci himself, the win. "On the last lap, I found Rins at corner six was lapped and we nearly crashed for pass him," Petrucci said. "Anyway, I lost Valentino and we arrive very, very close, but I’m happy. For me it’s a great result. But this time I felt the win very, very close." That was also clear from his body language after the race, the Italian thoroughly dejected, despite this being just his third podium. "It's better I don't meet Rins anywhere," a despondent Petrucci said.

Petrucci was convinced he could have beaten Rossi, as he believed he could have held off Rossi through the section from Meeuwenmeer onwards. That is anything but a given, however. Rossi may have crossed the line just a few hundredths of a second ahead of Petrucci, but that does not mean that if Petrucci does not lose time at that corner or at the Ruskenhoek, he goes on to win the race. He would still have to have get past Rossi, and with Rossi having the sweet smell of victory in his nostrils, he would not be denied.

It was a remarkable transformation to see Petrucci so down after coming second. The Italian had celebrated his first podium, in Mugello, like a win. But his second podium felt more like he had victory stolen from him. "I had the taste of victory, but then I had it taken away," he told us afterwards. That change in attitude is telling, and promises much for the future. Petrucci clearly believes he is now capable of winning races.

Gamblin' man

Behind Petrucci, a fierce and furious battle unfolded for the final spot on the podium. Andrea Dovizioso, who had bridged the gap to the leaders first, was the first to stand down. "Four laps to the end, it started to rain heavily, and at that time, I started thinking about the championship," Dovizioso said. "It was impossible to understand if the corner was wet and which one was more wet, so the risk was too high."

That left Márquez vs Crutchlow, a battle which Crutchlow was confident of winning. But the LCR Honda rider made a crucial mistake. "I made a big mistake in the race, and that was to show my hand a lap early," Crutchlow said. "I should have passed him on the last lap there, and it would have been game over. I passed him a lap too early, but I honestly thought I had the pace to ride away from him. But then he passed me back in Turn 5, and if he hadn't passed me back there I probably would have got the podium there."

The problem with leading was that he was showing Márquez where the track was dry and where it was when it was wet. "The only problem was, that I showed him that the track was a lot drier than he thought it was. Then he made a fantastic pass, because I thought I was faster than him in that corner, and I was faster than him in the braking into the last corner, and I thought I'll go slower round the corner, and then really accelerate out, so he has no chance of passing me until the last corner. But I heard his bike, and he shut the throttle and he was braking, and then he reopened the throttle to ride underneath me. I heard "waah!" and I thought, someone's either crashed or someone's coming through, and he came through. But no, it was good fun. I enjoy races like that. They're hard, but I never ever have any animosity to the others, I always give as good as I get, and it was good fun fighting."

All wide open

With Rossi winning, Dovizioso coming fifth, and Maverick Viñales having crashed out, the championship has been blown wide open again. Dovizioso leads, the first Ducati rider to do so since Casey Stoner in 2009, but he is only four points ahead of Viñales. Rossi jumps from fifth to third, and is a mere seven points behind Dovizioso. Marc Márquez is fourth, with a deficit of just 11 points. Even Dani Pedrosa in fifth or Johann Zarco are close, with 28 and 38 points respectively separating them.

"The championship because is incredibly open after eight races between a lot of different riders and different bikes," Rossi commented after the race. He does so with some sense of understatement: this is the tightest the top four have ever been in the modern era after just eight races. Dovizioso leads with the lowest number of points after eight rounds in modern history.

Rossi's victory makes it five winners we have had so far this year, which is more than most years during the Bridgestone era in MotoGP. From 2010 to 2015, there were only ever three or four winners each season. There had been five in 2009, but one of those was Andrea Dovizioso (ironically) in the rain at Donington. 2008 had seen four winners, while 2007 once again saw five winners, with Loris Capirossi winning in the rain at Motegi and Chris Vermeulen bringing Suzuki a win at Le Mans.

We probably won't see nine winners, as we did last year, but after Valentino Rossi, Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa, Maverick Viñales and Andrea Dovizioso have all won races, there are two, maybe three names who could easily win a race. Cal Crutchlow has a fair shot at victory at some point this year. Jorge Lorenzo may yet wrap his head sufficiently around the Ducati to take the win in Austria. And nobody would be surprised if Johann Zarco sneaked a win somewhere. This truly is a golden age of racing, and Sunday at Assen was the crowning glory on the season so far.


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Total votes: 147
Total votes: 127

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Comments

And to think Rins had the audacity to tell Pettruci off on the warm down lap.  Surely he knew he had become a backmarker when Rossi came through and should have made himself aware of his surroundings post that, irrespective of whether there were blue flags.  None the less, the Marshalls dropped the ball on that one and was a shame for the last few corners as it could have been truly spectacular...... regardless of who actually won!

Total votes: 161

To be fair I think the marshalls were spellbound with the on-track action. :P

Total votes: 140

don't know why you posted three times but you're absoulutly right about the marshalls.  I've had corner workers tell me after a race they lost track of everything because they were so engrossed in the race!  It happens...

Total votes: 108

Pick and chose among them all to describe todays racing and the winners in each class. There have been some 12 hours or more since Moto2 was over and I still struggle to find how to aptly describe the incredible racing. Anyhow, some of my quick takeaways are:

- Morbidelli rode a hell of a race. After the pressure of suffering two lackluster rides, he took his A game to the track today and has made his promotion to MotoGP seem perfectly deserved. Luthi is no slouch and seems to be in his best form in a very long time, so it makes Morbidelli's wins and title lead more impressive;

- I wonder if Vinales’ crash is just part of future champions’ regular learning curve and one inevitable lesson, even with the best bike and team, you can't win them all. So in this sense he is just going through the same growing all champions go through. The greater problem is that he is right in the middle of a title fight with little more room for error between three other riders including his teammate;

- For those who believe Rossi is “the GOAT”, this is a race they will or should immediately mention when defending their opinion. I will. Speed, opportunism, cunning riding through changing conditions, hard and decisive overtaking; he showed all of his weapons against incredibly fast and determined riders of undeniable quality;

- Why can’t Marquez always be so combative and steady? The points dropped at Argentina and Le Mans are like an anchor. Last year he was leading at this point, now he’s 4th and facing a Herculean task and formidable rivals;

- Mir missed an open goal, I still don’t get it. Did he miss a gear or just lose concentration on the last lap? Good for the Moto3 title battle.

- It is incredible how quickly MotoGP has changed recently. A few years ago, a private Ducati on the podium would be a ludicrous notion, 4 riders in the thick of a title fight would be considered bizarre and accidental, and we would be happy with 5 riders sweeping the podium after 8 races - nevertheless 5 winning 8 races. It truly is a golden age and I hope others feel MotoGP to be as spellbinding as I do.

Total votes: 158

the backmarker has no idea on who is approaching from the rear if blue flags are not waved. I understand Petrucci's frustration but you can't expect Rins to constantly look over the shoulder or continue to ride outside of the race line, especially knowing he would end up in the wet having the slicks on.

With Petrucci's riding in the last couple of races I am surprised David does not mention him as a possible winner somewhere this season. I tip Austria as a possible place to do it.

Talking Assen, it once proved again it is truly among the finest tracks in the world when it comes to tight racing, this time not only in the Moto3 (where every year in Assen it seems every lap is the last lap) but also in the MotoGP and more surprising, in the Moto2 (which is quite boring lately, to be honest).

Gone are the days I was cheering from the mud, watching fierce battles between Dutch and German riders (and spectators) but if this is the trade off I am very much willing to settle for it (besides the fact that I left my country over 11 years ago anyway, now living a stones' throw from Sepang, another gem on the calendar). 

 

Total votes: 123

Watching the TT sitting in the mud, beer in hand, after stepping over many sleeping drunk Germans who had partied all night at camping Jan and Bertha, waiting until the end for the sidecars to cheer on Streuer/Schnieders, afterwards walking back over the track to go to the bike in a straight line and then the long way home, waving to the crowds at the side of the highway... Those were the days ;)

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, there are still some things that never changed, like the utterly useless speaker, mister Jan de Rooij (bless him).

 

Total votes: 125

We must be watching different races

Total votes: 106

on the marshall thing. Backmarkers use to always play a part in the 500cc days, I loved it as it added another dimension. Yesterday was equally enthralling, and as with at Assen yesterday, in the past the backmarkers weren't always strictly adhering to the flags as they are of course in the race also. Yes Petrucci could have won, maybe, if Rins hadn't been there, but he also had 26 laps to get past Rossi and stay there-which didn't happen. And if it didn't rain it looked certain that Rossi would have cleared off as he was doing just that at the time, lots of 'if' and 'buts'. 

I'm still perplexed at Vinales and his head space. He is a rookie on the M1, and yes he had a great initial start to the season, but there have also been spectacular failures. Fantastic write up, those stats on Rossi were both extremely inventive and remarkable, kudos Mr Emmett!

Total votes: 129

David:

In truth  we out here in fan-world and among the  readership also have to wade through many races that are coma producing, and grind through the bad writing (not yours). We endure the dull races waiting and  hoping for the fleeting and all too rare moments of exhiliration and suffering through seemingly interminable moments of  crushing and utter despair because we too love the sport. 

Rossi and Jorge out of the last corner of Barcelona, Marquez and Vale in Assen, Jorge and Marc at Mugello, Vale and Stoner at Laguna, Nicky and Danni at Portugal,  Dovi and Iananone in Argentina all come quickly to mind. 

Most humans have the gift to not get too high or too low for too long after life hands us either delights or despair, but allows us to feed off those events to motivate us to put in the hard work to stay at that level or to work to improve and try to avoid the despair. There are no guarantees either will work as we desire. We all suit up and show up and give our best and let the chips fall where they may. We all have heard that good luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity but lives like Vale's demonstrate how true that is.  We often forget the crushing moments  all riders including Vale have suffered such as the broken leg in Mugello, the blown engine there, the crash at Valencia in 2006 that cost him a championship, and  his soul sapping time at Ducati. 

These truly are Golden times. I am old enough and been a fan long enough to remember the 2 stroke era of the all-conquering Americans like KR,  KR Jr.  Eddie, Randy and Freddie. My decades-long perspective coupled with the technology of video and live broadcasts makes today's experience so much more impactful and enjoyable.  In my prejudiced view, MotoGP remains consistently the best worldwide motor sport series bar none.  

On to Sachsenring! Thanks for an insightful article  with the superb viewpoint.  

Total votes: 149

I liked the lap of honour they granted to Wil Hartog, one of those heroes of the past, who won here 40 years ago. Rossi was very cordial and paid respect to him right before and after the race. Very nice! Also great to see the bike of Barry Sheene, with that famous number 7, ridden by his and Stephanie's son. MotoGP does have such a rich history. So many stories. Yet I agree that this is the Golden Era. We're so blessed.  

Total votes: 122

That was the best race in many seasons I've watched.  The front group, the second group.....there were many people fighting for position.  All the while mother nature breathing down on them.  At the end, just when you thought there could not be any more drama, Cal comes from literally no where, like a mate you haven't seen in ages, who out of the blue shows up at your party.  He makes a hard pass then one lap later Marquez makes a better one, and the best pass of the race.  

 

So so many unbelievable things transpired that each one could be written about.  End of the day, the competition is better between manus, and satellite bikes, and riders than it has ever been since 2002 and the 4 stroke era.  Champions, rookies, satellite winning riders, all with a shot at a win.  And most of this came from equalizing or minimizing electronics.  Something some of us have said the sport needed in 2007 when it became abundantly clear how much code had taken over the sport.  Thank goodness Dorna got these measures through.  Hardware and software apparently the key to unlocking the competition.  Now we just need a Suzuki, Aprilia, KTM, one, two, or all, to nail it.  And MotoGP can become bigger and grow.  I still loathe the mentioned years during  ridgedtone, where qualifying told you all.  It was boring, no matter the winner, most of the time.  Bike racing needs passing and competition.  That's the only way it will grow.  

Total votes: 133

Masterpiece article & great racing.

Total votes: 103

in your last paragraph you forgot one important name David. He believes it and I believe (in) him !

Total votes: 108

Thks for the good read !

3 races in a row where Ducati bikes are fighting for the win... 3 different tracks and totally different conditions. As much as the Mugello win was somewhat in line with Ducati strengths and as much as the Barcelona race allowed Dovi to show how smart and good he is, Assen is more of a surprise for me. The Track here is all about corner speed right ? no huge straight line that allows the Red Rockets to win the tenths they lost otherwise. So ? what's going on ? Petrux and Dovi are surely fast riders but I doubt it explains the whole story. 

During the Sunday Race, Petrucci never lost any ground in the flowing corners nor in the slow part of the track. Dovi was able to recover a LOT of time during the middle of the race and would have maybe catched a third victory in a row if the rain didn't fall.

It seems Ducati bikes and Michelin tyres are a good match allowing the riders to find grip ( especially rear grip that ensures the best traction and acceleration) whereas other drivers are struggling a bit more. Seems the tyres are even "lifting" a bit Ducati's weaknesses. Actually, it's maybe more that other bikes are struggling more with corner speed whereas it does not make too much difference for the Ducati bikes hence the fact they're closer. The fact Lorenzo doesn't take advantage of the situation as much as Dovi or Petrux makes sense in that context.  My 2 cents. 

 

Total votes: 117

Currently, I'm reading an biography of Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832).  Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he was a genius, the kind of genius that is rare and only prevails once or twice per century.. Him being a genius did not mean he was a god, for he was very human and made mistakes, especially in relation to other people. But seen as a whole, he was rather brilliant and everybody who met him knew it. Reading this biography about Goethe, I can't help to think about Valentino Rossi. I honestly think that he is as close to genius as we could expect in the 21th century.

It's not just him winning, it's the way he does it, over such a long period of time, with his incredible talent backed up by sheer determination and sacrifice, just as you so brilliantly put into to words. He got so many set backs, yet he always comes back on top. It's incredible.  

P.S. You name 3 riders that could win a race, but you don't include Danilo Petrucci. Don't you think he could win?

 

 

Total votes: 119

Petrucci definitely belongs in the list at the end of the last paragraph. He came very close to winning at Assen, and could quite easily win somewhere else. In my defence, it was very late, and complete oversight on my part.

Total votes: 119

Really nice to hear the details of the battle with MM from Cal.

On another note - is that not the 3rd rear end crash for yamaha? (4 if you count rossi fp4 mugello) . Electronics? Chassis? Coincidence? Irrelevance?

Total votes: 109

David -- great writeup!  thank you.

yeah, the Golden Era == arguably best racing ever.   Rossi!  confess that I am very glad to see his win stretching to yet another record.  If anyone discusses the GOAT, Rossi is in the conversation.   and look at the competition... Dorna's work at leveling the field gives us Petrucci as a hair thin challenger for the win, not to mention Marquez, Vinales, Dovi, Zarco, Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Lorenzo, and at any given race another bunch of  possibilities.  Yes, I think that we will look back at 2017 as one of the best years ever!   Thank you, & kudos to Zara for the race writeups.

Tapey -- like your thoughts on genius!

Bricktop -- yeah! what you said.

Total votes: 118

Great write up as usual but would argue with one point - "the rear let go and catapulted him into the air" 

If you watch the video in replay and frame by frame, because it happened so fast, he lost both ends and low sided not catapulted. I cannot say with 100% certainty but "as he flicked his bike aggressively" that loaded the suspension and when unloaded took all of the weight off both wheels. If you catch the right frame the front wheel is turning hard left which is what happens when you loose the front end. I think in this case he lost both pretty much at the same time. 

Why do I come to this conclusion - I crashed once in similar circumstances though no where near the same speed... It was a flick hard left followed by a right that you had to brake for. As soon as I touched the front brake it tank slapped that hard it through me on the ground. That happens when the front wheel is off the ground and a stopped wheel hits the ground at speed. 

Whilst watching the race you could see Marc sometimes had air under the front wheel through that chicane.

What that crash shows is what a fine line it can be from staying on two wheels to having your nose rubbed into the ground.

Total votes: 118

I didn't do the frame-by-frame, but it looks like there is a little hump there, too.  During the race, both Rossi and Marquez consistently had about 1" of air under the front tire (Marquez more, Rossi less).  The Ducatis seemed planted, and I didn't get a look at Crutchlow.  So Maverick possibly unloading the rear at the wrong time (while the front's already up) seems likely.

This crash to me looked in some respects to be similar to Rossi's crash at Le Mans - overriding the bike at the wrong place, and the wrong time.  Neither ego nor panic generate additional grip.

Total votes: 101

Fair to think we could see a very similar race in Germany next week?  Believe I saw initial forecast looking cool and wet? 

A quick glance at the results from last year's FP sessions, qualifying and race results suggest those who were strong this week in Assen, because of various weather influence and tricky conditions, may also be strong again next week, because of last year's results and similar weather conditions expected.  Perhaps too presumptious and overly simplistic, but makes sense in my feeble mind. 

My girlfriend is officially hooked on MotoGP after waking up at 6:30am to watch that race with me.  She's already talking about booking Valencia without me having to even bring it up!

Total votes: 122

The racing was fine but I was hoping for more shots of random people looking up. Or, my favourite, as great racing is going on they cut to a shot of someone's back. That was nice. And as the racers finish I get to see people hug each other rather than see the ACTION on the track. Impressive. WTF?

Total votes: 131

Dovisioso after his SECOND WIN IN A ROW last week: "the bike is no good, we have to be realistic, we cannot win the championship"

Dovisioso after finishing 5th, way behind the leader this week: "I decided to slow down because I was thinking about the championship"

Petrucci after placing third last week: "I would have sold my house for this!!!!"

Petrucci after finishing second this week: "I was robbed and if I see Rins I am collecting on what I'm owed"

Lorenzo last week: 4th

Lorenzo this week: 15th

I don't know if any manufacturer is better demonstrating how loopy this season has been.

Total votes: 136

I think it was Assen 2008 when Rossi unfolded that 100 win banner. It may have been 2009. Anyway, Kudos to him and a superb performance. Back then I had no time for him other than a racer. Those post race extravaganza celebrations made me sick. I got to the point where I would cut off the feed once the top three crossed the line.So glad that he's toned it down. What David pointed out is the brutal regime of training, focusing, racing for that 6 hour high, post race when it comes. Much respect now, not much then, other than pertinent to his racing prowess. I took a small bet on him on after FP2 for Sunday's win and when he qualified front row with Vinales and Dovi back 11th and 9th, well, game on. Maverick is another great racer but I see him current as much in the mould of Rossi's erstwhile team mate Jorge. When everything is going according to plan A he is unstoppable. He still has enough time to figure a plan B actuation frame of mind. He was way over the top chasing stars and got a wake up call. He ain't no Marc Marquez or Casey Stoner but is ruthlessly efficient on a bike that suits him to a T on the day. Rossi proved again to be a man for all seasons even when they arrive in one weekend. Petrux has jumped from 'everyone loves him' to MS58 level in popularity but is clearly much more level headed and aware. Funny old bones...rubber and electronics. Ducati struggling with Michelin back in 990 era, switch to Bridgestone...almost take title 2006, win it 2007, Rossi demands them, wins 2008, Bridgestone become sole supplier. Electronics, in house factory, now all spec Magnetti Marreli and Michelin for all. It is certainly a spectacular season thus far. Back then, I always figured that whomever won the Catalan GP or was leading the title race post event would go on to take the title....mmm. One thing is certain. The best Lorenzo can do at Ducati is a Rossi in his first year..The best Vinales can do in his 3rd year in GP  is beat his team mate and maaybe win the title. Judging by form and function, my picks are Rossi, Dovi , Marquez in no particular order. A wet Sachsenring, fresh surface, summer break....can't wait.

Total votes: 126

Congratulations to Valentino Rossi. I am very happy for him. Old blokes rule.

Fabulous to see Wil Hartog at the track & on a bike. he is one of the best riders, Gp winner & very very good truck driver!

cgates66 I don't agree, I am confident that I can create more grip using only willpower. I can make the bike turn using the force of my will.

So sweet to see Barry Sheene's bike on the tele as well.

Total votes: 122

This is my favorite race in a good while.

Thassit! Watched it 3 times now, with plenty of rewind/examine the good stuff. Zarco had some form here that is REALLY something. Much less "busy" than some peers. Bold. Natural. I like him.

Petrucci showed something I haven't seen while battling Dovi. Nice!

I could go on and on and won't. Assen 2017 - bet we watch it in Winter. This championship - can you believe the possibility?

P.S. hey Suzuki, here comes Aprilia

Total votes: 102

I am suprised by people putting out the quote "If Rins was not there", even before Rins if you see the build up to the last part of the track Vale have 4 to 5 bike lengths of space. Yes Danillo was faster in the last part of the track, but with Vale being in the kind of mood he was in I don't think the result would be any different. He never gave up in 2015 and was never going to in 2017 as well. nevertheless it was so exciting and nail biting experience, specially for the legions of 46 fans. I was shaking after the race with my heart pounding as if i was part of some Donald Duck cartoon :P.

The race was perfect, the riders chose the tires which worked for each manufacturer and the temperature never mattered for the tire choice. For once we did not have riders directly or indirectly pointing at tires. however seeing Marc at the back and not able to put up a challenge is sad to see. I hope honda makes their bike better soon.

As a fan of Vale and Motogp, I don't want riders gaining on other manufactures/tires shortcomings.

Regarding Zarco's move, I am not sure but I was seeing Vale doing some weird lines throughout the race. I am not sure, but his lines were a bit weird for me, but 5's move was never going to stick and for people telling Vale was the same in his younger days is pure rubbish. 

He always made moves that would stick except for very very few. And we are going to find one or two bad moves here and there given the length of his carrier. if you see the percentage of time Vale has made a rubbish or bone headed move will be close to 0. Catalunya 2009, sepang 2010, laguna 2008, philip Island 2015, qatar 2015 the common thing in these races were the clean and beautiful passes Vale has made all race long. These are races just to name a few. The point is make a move which will stick, don't do and Innone on anyone.

Total votes: 111

Rossi and all the greats use unconvential lines on the race track frequently.  Whether you're in front or behind you can't go faster than the other guy if you use the same racing line.  If you're behind and you use the same line you wind up just following him.  If you're ahead you don't want him to see what your best line is.

Total votes: 115

So did Crutchlow let Marquez by? If so, the points might be worth the contract price from HRC. What was the final penalty for Zarco? Time? Places? Gutted for Petrux, seems the marshalls are Rossi no doubt.

Total votes: 120

No blue flags were Danilo's complaint, therefore, this was exactly the same for Rossi.

Total votes: 101

How nice was it to see Rossi and Petrux's Ducati family slapping palms in Parc Ferme (did i spell that right) but boy, in the post-race tv interview Petrucci was dark (as dark as he can be, which is politely dark) about the lack of Blue flag waving at Assen. At the most vital part of the race!

it was great to see Rossi win again and see the delight he took in it. What a passion he has for racing and winning that has never failed him, despite the Ducati years. It's a miserly soul that can't take part in the sheer joy that Rossi brings to MotoGP when he wins. I've never been a Rossi fan but the last 5 years of his career I've become one. 38! FFS you should not be winning MotoGP races at that age.

He's 7th in the 'oldest' list yes, but he's also eclipsed Troy Bayliss to become the oldest ever MotoGP winner in the modern era. Can he win the championship ? I wouldn't put it past him, and I truly hope he does, as much as I like Maverick and Dovi, I'd really like to see Rossi take #10 and let's see another 'sorry i'm late!' t-shirt when he does :)

Total votes: 101

They missed a 'blue patch' in the heat of the moment, which compromised Petrux big time.

The marshalls were Rossi big time back in 2011 in Jerez after # 46 unintentially, but overenthusiastically put # 27 and himself on the deck.

Total votes: 113

Even if Petrucci had made his move as he'd thought going up to the Ramshoek, Rossi's race-winning pass had been at the GT chicane a lap or two earlier and that my friends would've meant Petrucci would've had to have done better there the last time around. Rossi would've come back at him with everything in his book.

That said, I see Petrucci's frustration, but a smart man would use that as motivation. Let's see what he does with his next chance.......

Heart-stopping race for sure. And at a place I'd die to turn a wheel at once in my life. Just not in those conditions!

 

Total votes: 104

Being a beligerant blue flag violator is nothing new to Rins. Remember the time in moto2 where he was black flagged for fighting with the lead group even though he was a lap behind.

Total votes: 111

Vinales crash is not unique.  Yonny Hernandez had exactly the same crash in morning warm up of last years Assen GP.  

Total votes: 94