An unstoppable force met an oft-immovable Marquez in the Dutch TT, with the two going head-to-head.
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has taken a stunning Grand Prix win at the Motul TT Assen, stalking the front before striking for the lead and stretching his legs to pull away from reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) followed up his record-breaking pole position on Saturday with another podium, impressing once again even as he continues to recover from arm pump surgery.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took the holeshot from third on the grid, the Suzuki man streaking away from the line and soon joined by impressive rookie teammate Joan Mir as he slotted into second. Quartararo didn’t retain P1 but he stayed third after a solid start, with eventual winner Viñales the man initially losing out a little. Marquez was next up, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) harrying teammate Danilo Petrucci just behind.
At the start of Lap 2 Viñales made his first move to take Marquez, but then all eyes on were the lead as Rins suddenly slid out…leaving Mir under the pressure of leading a premier class race for the first time, and Quartararo in second for a rookie 1-2. The number 36 then headed a bit wide and the number 20 sliced through, with Viñales taking over in second and Marquez up into third.
Mir had been shuffled back into fourth but Dovizioso soon struck, having passed teammate Petrucci to begin his assault on the front, before there was another strike of bad luck lightning as Viñales headed wide from the lead. Marquez took over, stalking Quartararo, with Dovizioso then within touching distance of the number 12 Yamaha as he got shuffled back. Marquez tried to attack, Quartararo resisted, and Viñales was then back on their tail and it was a trio locked together in the lead.
That was how it would stay for much of the race. Viñales overcooked Turn 1 but reeled them back in, Marquez attacked Quartararo a lap later after a wobble for the Frenchman, and then Marquez had his own moment and the rookie was back in the lead. The trio were once again line astern, uneasily holding station.
With 11 to go, Viñales broke the stalemate. He attacked Marquez and got through before then homing in on Quartararo, pouncing where Marquez had earlier as the Frenchman struggled again with a bit of a wobble at high speed. But a small error soon after cost him and Marquez took over in P1. Would that be the number 93’s chance to pull the pin?
No chance. Viñales sliced back through as swiftly as he could, and the two were starting to gap Quartararo behind. With six laps to go they were still both locked together and there was nothing in it, but gradually then, Viñales started taking a tenth here and a tenth there.
Finally, it seemed the number 12 had broken the Honda rider. The top three had all had their share of mini dramas during the race, but Viñales was then pitch perfect to the flag. Eventually, the gap was nearly five seconds over the line and the Spaniard celebrated in style. It’s his first win since Phillip Island last year, Yamaha’s first of the season and one of his most impressive rides.
Quartararo took his second podium in succession in third as he managed to last the distance, ever-impressive as he continues to makes waves in MotoGP™. Dovizioso was the man behind him, locked in battle with Petrucci and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) for much of the race and coming out on top. Morbidelli eventually just beat Petrucci to complete the top five and equal his best ever premier class result.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) recovered from a moment to take P7 and overhaul Mir’s impressive performance as the rookie finished eighth, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) crossing the line in ninth after a more difficult weekend.
Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten for his best result of the season so far and some valuable points, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), escaping a battle behind that saw Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) best Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in the points scorers, with all incredibly close over the line.
There were a few names missing from the finishers along with Rins, the biggest of which was Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Doctor’ lost the chance at a ride back through the field as he collided with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and both went down, making it a difficult run of three for the number 46 of late.
That’s it from Assen and a classic trio of cat and mouse in the lead. Next up is the Sachsenring and that’s one of Marquez’ signature venues, so there will be some ominous music as the reigning Champion makes the short trip south. But with Viñales on form, Quartararo ever-closer despite his recent surgery and the likes of Rins with speed if not always luck, the last race before the summer break will be unmissable. Tune in as we race again in less than a week, on Sunday 7th July.
Maverick Viñales: “It’s amazing, amazing because I’ve been going through some very tough moments, I’ve been knocked out in three races and had a jump start in Austin, which is the race I felt most prepared. Also in Montmelo I think we had the opportunity to fight for the win. Somehow we found a good step for the races. It’s difficult to believe because I thought I couldn’t make this pace because in the warm up, I was not so bad with used tyres but we were missing a little bit of pace. But finally I was hitting 33s all the time. I was very happy, very happy when increased the line. A lot of press went out, bringing Yamaha to the top is something very special, and in two years we were the only ones to get a victory for Yamaha. I have to say congratulations to the team, they have worked really well since Mugello. What can I say, it’s something unbelievable!”
1 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) 40’55.415
2 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) +4.854
3 – Fabio Quartararo* (FRA – Yamaha) +9.738
*Independent Team rider