2017 Assen MotoGP Race Result: Like A Kid In His Playground

With Assen’s capricious weather, it was a journey into the unknown for the MotoGP class, with no one doing anything near race distance on any of the tyres. Sprinkle in the prospect of rain scheduled for the final few laps and Valentino Rossi’s tenth victory in Assen becomes even more impressive. Or should I say predictable, to a degree, knowing the Italian's prowess for such conditions? The highly celebrated win means he can now add a new record to his portfolio, for the longest winning career across all classes.

His main challenger throughout the race proved to be compatriot Danilo Petrucci, who got as close as six hundredths of a second to having to officially change his name as promised in the press conference. The Pramac rider took second place, while the battle for the final podium position provided the entertainment on the last lap, Marc Marquez snatching it for four hundredths of a second.

Poleman Johann Zarco kept his position at the start, dragging Marquez right behind him, as Rossi blasted past Petrucci into third position. Zarco was already making the most of his favoured soft tyre combination and pushing hard to build a gap in the lead. He had six tenths in hand by the end of lap one but the gap did not get any bigger, the world champion riding hard to keep the Frenchman within reach. With Marquez, Rossi and Petrucci in tow, a gap was slowly starting to appear to the chasing pack, led by Scott Redding, one second between the groups by lap three.

The chasing group was not making great progress in bringing down that gap, Redding leading Andrea Iannone, Andrea Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista, Maverick Viñales, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller, Aleix Espargaro and Dani Pedrosa. Viñales and Pedrosa could not make great progress at the start either, the Yamaha man a steady tenth place as the Honda rider was losing places in the first few laps. The championship leader started picking his rivals up to get past Crutchlow and Bautista and into eighth position by lap eight. Former teammates Dovizioso and Iannone were engaged in a fight of their own in front of him, before the Suzuki started once again to go backwards.

Meanwhile, the four-man runaway group at the front were keeping their powder dry, over two seconds in front of the pursuers but not making any moves. That lasted until lap eleven, when Rossi made it past Marquez into the first corner, putting the same move on Zarco one lap later. Zarco was not one to let it go that easily, the Frenchman bumping into Rossi as the Italian ran wide and left him a small gap. Marquez benefited from the incident to get past Zarco, Petrucci following him through soon after.

Behind them, Viñales got into the rhythm we expected from him and found himself leading the chasing pack, with three seconds to make up. The mission looked doable until, on lap thirteen, the world championship leader crashed out in the final chicane, Dovizioso only just avoiding him and inheriting not only his fifth place but also the championship lead.

With eleven laps to go, Marquez appeared to be slowing down slightly, overtaken by Petrucci in turn five as Rossi was trying to build a gap at the front, seven tenths splitting the Italians. The gap turned to one full second one lap later, the Yamaha man the only one in the front group on the hard rear tyre, Petrucci and Marquez on the medium and Zarco on the soft.

With eight laps to go, drops of rain started to fall and the pitlane was open to allow for the riders to switch bikes. In the changing conditions, Dovizioso made up a big gap to catch up with Zarco and Marquez, the Frenchman the first to enter the pits and gamble on incoming rain. It was a losing bet, the rain never hard enough, so the poleman had to settle for fourteenth place.

Meanwhile, Rossi lost his advantage and was under pressure from Petrucci and Dovizioso, the Italian podium battle seeing Petrucci finally past Rossi with five laps to go, while Marquez was biding his time close behind them. The world champion had a go at Dovizioso soon after, the Italian having none of it, the two rapidly losing touch with the leaders and getting caught by Crutchlow.

Rossi went back on top with three laps to go but not really shaking off his compatriot, as some more drizzle made its presence known on the final three laps. Behind them, Crutchlow was making his case in the battle for third, the Brit trading blows with Marquez, the battle down to the line and a matter of centimetres separating them in the end.

Crutchlow didn’t quite make the podium, only eight hundredths of a second separating him from Dovizioso in fifth place. Miller had a steady ride into sixth, eighteen seconds down on the new championship leader, followed by an impressive Karel Abraham in seventh place and an equally deserving Loris Baz in eighth position.

Iannone salvaged a ninth place for Suzuki, ahead of the Espragaro brothers, with Aleix getting bragging rights in tenth place. The Hondas of Tito Rabat and Pedrosa followed them, the factory rider going backwards as soon as drops showed on his visor. Jorge Lorenzo got the final point after a decent start was negated by his trip into the pits when the rain appeared to come.

After a terrible start, Jonas Folger’s day got worse, the German crashing out on lap ten to leave the field with no riders to have finished all races in the points.

No such problems for Dovizioso, who now leads the world championship by four points, taking over from Viñales. The Spaniard stays second, with his teammate’s victory placing Rossi third, seven points down on Dovizioso. Marquez is a further four points down, Pedrosa losing a bit of ground, twenty-eight points behind the leader.

Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 41'41.149
2 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +0.063
3 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda +5.201
4 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +5.243
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +5.327
6 43 Jack MILLER Honda +23.390
7 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati +36.982
8 76 Loris BAZ Ducati +37.058
9 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki +37.166
10 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +1'01.929
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +1'09.384
12 53 Tito RABAT Honda +1'10.121
13 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda +1'10.344
14 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha +1'35.655
15 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati 1 Lap
16 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 1 Lap
17 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1 Lap
    Not Classified    
  45 Scott REDDING Ducati 2 Laps
  19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 9 Laps
  38 Bradley SMITH KTM 13 Laps
  25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 15 Laps
  94 Jonas FOLGER Yamaha 17 Laps
  22 Sam LOWES Aprilia 18 Laps

 

Round Number: 
8
2017
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Comments

Whatever you think about Vale, he has got what it takes when he has the bike under him. After nearly twenty one years of winning races he looked as happy as he was when he won his first one, even Marquez seemed impressed. Maverick looking distinctly down in the mouth after the race. His head has been messed with now and it will be interesting to see how he comes back next week. Fabulous race by Petrucci. Jorge in danger? The Ducati management looked distinctly fed up on Saturday afternoon.

I am not taking anything away from Vale's win which was well deserved after a great race from almost everyone, but it was a shame to see a backmarker seriously hold up Petrucci in the final sector of the final lap.  He had great pace in that sector and in spite of the hold up he finished just a sliver behind Vale.  Who knows if he was robbed of his first win? I guess that's racing, but I really wish we could have seen a blemish free race to the line.  

FTR Petrucci seemed to blame the lack of blue flags being waved, not the back marker (Rins) himself.  And regardless, what a race.

I felt frustrated for Petrucci, his 2nd place must be very bittersweet. He ran an incredible race, really strong right up to the end and very well could have taken his first win, third of the season for Ducati, if not for the backmarker. No discredit to Rossi, but it's unfortunate there was traffic on that last lap and Petrux makes a valid point about the blue flags. 

#1, I figured Rossi for the win,#2, I figured Dovi to take over the title lead...with the usual trepidation in anticipation of unwanted carnage in the first couple of laps. Anyway it panned out beautifully. Great race. Petrux was again brilliant and gracious. Marc is Marc...another amazing save early on. Dovi as cool, calm and calculating as ever. I guess he backed off a tad for two reasons. Vale and Petrux had gapped Marc, himself and Cal during their scuffles and title points were at play. Smart move. Had an unaware Alex Ris not baulked Petrux, he may have won or taken both down, likewise Marc and Cal, potentially leaving Dovi with an open track to the flag. Not to be. The blokes in front of him managed brilliantly. At one point it looked like three in a row was on the cards for #4. He smartly figured #1 in the standings was the wiser option. Had Dani not unintentionally wiped him in Argentina he would probably have a one race points lead by now. Lorenzo did much what he did in FP4...rode around for the camera's. Look, I'm not about to wright him off at Ducati yet but the writing is on the wall. Many will say its his first season at Ducati and so what. His underpaid team mate went from HRC to Tech3 to Ducati back to back and no team mate since HRC days beat him. Speak of contracts and 2 way escape clauses. Vinales must be feeling the wrath of the doctor tightening the noose within that garage. Can he fight back as hard as Lorenzo did in that camp back then? I'm not too sure. Sachsenring has a new surface I hear...another cat amongst the pigeons. Look forward to it. Further adrift, good job by Baz and DNF Bautista. He was having a really good race. Sachsenring, then the season break. I wonder which contractual clauses will be used to break contracts before BRNO. Ducati are in a really bittersweet situation right now. A title contender, a proven superstar and a super asset in a sattelite team with the same bike, sort of like HRC now as of Cal's signing. I look most forward to the roundup and the next podcast. 

What the heck was VR thinking with the premature celebration at the finish line? Just about gave me a heart attack! Not that I would have minded seeing Petrucci win, mind you.

racing, across the three classes! I must admit I'm enjoying hearing more than just the Spanish anthem these days-good for the series.

The intrigue at Yamaha continues. The only constant at this point is the strength and consistency of Zarco on the 2016 bike, although he learned a few very important lessons yesterday-particualrly about trying to stuff his M1 where it clearly can not, and will not go, I have a feeling Rossi knew that was on the cards. Hopefully Zarco will learn this time and come back stronger.

It is yet to be fully proven that the chassis change has made all of the difference for Vale, however the evidence is mounting. Once again Vinales has come out and said he does not know what happened, if I was in charge of development on that bike I wouldn't be listening to the guy that has no clue of what is going on when things don't go his way. And the comment 'Sometimes the fastest does not win-we have to learn from that' is a little perplexing and dare I say it Lorenzo-esk. The fastest guy won the race I watched yesterday...

With the Ducati's once again being so strong, and the inclement weather, I'd say that there wasn't that much grip out there in the race, and Rossi looked a lot more like he did in 2016, even to the point that if the rain had not fallen he looked to be walking away with it on that hard rear.

As for the $20mil man, I know that Ducati has embarassed plenty of great riders over the years but this is seriuosly the worst we've seen-and its costing them the most money, not only is his teammate very strong every weekend and leading the championship-both satelite machines outperformed him-one of them on the podium again! And in typical Jorge fashion he is arguing the point with the media, and if he miraculously gets another decent result he will again be the first to say 'you all doubted me and look at this!' Paying a rider that much money to be performing so badly with the amount of time he has now had on the bike is clearly grating on Ducati now-Tardozzi's face said it all. For me the Yamaha M1, the medium compound Bridgestone non-edge treated rubber- and in one season Marc Marquez, had a profound affect on Lorenzo's results.    

Can we have a small round of applause for Karel equalling his best ever main class result, please?

Absolutely. A lot of time people just say quite negative things about him like "daddy's boy on the grid because they are rich" etc etc. But I genuinely like the bloke. I am always glad he's part of the grid and yeah he has had ups and downs and his resources to go racing have helped but even on such equipment he does surprisingly well. So yeah applause from me!

Also his best result (if you exclude the extreme outlier of last year's Assen win)

Previous best was 7th at German GP last year.

Building on what Sttrain mentioned I'd have to add a few more things.

For one, Lorenzo didn't used to be half bad in wet/damp/drying conditions, but I think that Assen crash years back has made a definite turn in his peformances in such conditions.

The second thing is being beaten by Rossi on the old man's return to Yamaha. Even though Rossi lost the big one to Lorenzo, Rossi had beaten him an equal amount of times since back and on the same bike. That has to play on Lorenzo's mind. Another title for Rossi in this time period diminishes all the other player's legacies no matter what they go on to do. And they all know that.

Third, the switch to Michelins pretty much will seal Lorenzo's fate. I don't think he trusts the French gummies unless its pretty hot.