Valentino Rossi has taken second win of the year, winning a fierce, race-long battle to hold off Marc Marquez and get revenge for last time out at Mugello.
Rossi gave himself plenty of work to do. A poor start saw him drop down the order on the first lap, as Jorge Lorenzo got a rocketship launch to lead into the first corner. Marc Marquez followed the Movistar Yamaha, sitting on his tail while Dani Pedrosa forced his way past Andrea Iannone, along with Maverick Viñales, putting in a strong ride on the Suzuki. Lorenzo pushed for a gap, with Marquez chasing, while Rossi had to pull out all the stops to make his way forward.
But catch them he did. By lap 3, Rossi was on the back of Pedrosa into third. A couple of laps later he was on to the back of Marquez, and ready for his next move.
Rossi's pursuit had perhaps been helped by Jorge Lorenzo, who had not been able to capitalize on his start. The world champion was struggling with tires, and unable to sustain much of a pace. Lorenzo lasted just a couple of laps in the lead, before both Rossi and Marquez found their way past.
Lorenzo's woes were only just beginning. Later, he would be passed by both Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Viñales, then chased down by Andrea Iannone. Iannone's eagerness to pass overcame his talent, and he braked way too hot into Turn 10, and slammed into the rear wheel of Lorenzo, taking both men down. A furious Lorenzo was out of the race, and giving up all of his advantage in the championship.
At the front, the battle was not yet done. Though Rossi led, Marquez was clearly biding his time. It was not easy, though, as the Spaniard nearly lost control of his Repsol Honda, hanging right off the bike through the new chicane, but miraculously not losing any time. With four laps to go, Marquez opened hostilities, passing Rossi into Turn 10, but running wide in the process. From that point on the lead swapped hands several times, especially along the front straight and into Turn 1.
Rossi finally got the upper hand with two laps to go. The Movistar Yamaha rider was still setting an incredible pace, Marquez struggling to keep up. After the Repsol Honda rider braked just a little too late into Turn 7, he lost too much ground to Rossi, and the Italian went on to claim a well-deserved victory. Marquez was content to settle for second, and the lead in the championship, while Dani Pedrosa rode home to a comfortable third. Maverick Viñales came home in fourth after a very strong ride, ahead of a staunch performance on medium tires by Pol Espargaro.
Lorenzo's crash has turned the championship open again, turning a lead of 15 points into a deficit of 10 points. Rossi closes his gap to Lorenzo to 12 points, and now trails Marquez by 23 points.
|17||68||Yonny Hernandez||Ducati||1 Lap|
|41||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki||7 Laps|
|99||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha||9 Laps|
|29||Andrea Iannone||Ducati||9 Laps|
|38||Bradley Smith||Yamaha||19 Laps|