In a thrilling finish at the Assen race track in Netherlands, Italian legend and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi enhanced his 2015 championship standing by getting past reigning champion Marc Marquez in an intriguing last-lap battle at Dutch MotoGP. Rossi shot off from the pole at the start and led nearly all the way as Marquez briefly overtook him, when just seven laps remained. However, Rossi soon regained the lead before Marquez came back once again in a desperate last bid to threaten the Italian. But Rossi held on by cutting the corner and roaming home to register his third win of the season with Marquez right behind. While Rossi recorded his 85th MotoGP victory with a gap of 1.242 seconds, Marquez’s second-place finish was a huge redemption after he crashed out at the Spanish GP at Catalunya and Italian GP in Mugello. Rossi’s Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who had won four straight MotoGP races before Assen; was third after starting from eighth on the grid. The victory at Assen, takes Rossi 10 points clear of Lorenzo, who has 153 points to Rossi’s 163. Marquez is now fourth at 89 but even with 10 races left this season, it is hard to imagine that Marquez could stage a comeback.
The Dutch MotoGP at Assen on Saturday was one of the most closely contested races in recent memory and it will be remembered for the last-minute duel between Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi and Honda’s Marc Marquez. Rossi had won the pole in qualifying on Friday and therefore held a natural advantage. Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro was second ahead of Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. The other grid positions at race time were; Pol Espargao 5th, Andrea Iannone 6th, Cal Crutchlow 7th, Jorge Lorenzo 8th, Maverick Vinales 9th, and Andrea Dovizioso 10th.
At the start, Rossi raced ahead of the pack and although Marquez was third on the grid, he quickly went past Aleix Espargaro to fall right behind Rossi. The lead pair broke away from the rest of the riders and continued. The Yamaha Movistar team of Rossi and Lorenzo had new chassis for their machines and after two crashes resulting from braking at corners, Marquez reverted to the 2014 Honda chassis. With seven laps remaining, Rossi erred at the exit of a chicane. Marquez found an opening and on the next corner, he passed Rossi into corner entry. For while, Rossi followed Marquez, who looked determined to keep his new-found lead. But Rossi had no desire to give up. He waited for his chance and after closing the gap in the next 4 laps, he brilliantly pulled away from Marquez at turn no.10. The nine-time world champion now had a 0.4 second lead over Marquez. The Spaniard, who had setbacks in the last two GP’s at Mugello and Barcelona, made a final lunge in the last lap and tried to pass from inside of Rossi at the final chicane. Rossi who was clearly in the lead, tried to clip the apex but Marquez slid into Rossi and his bike’s front wheel touched Rossi’s elbow. As a result, Rossi was pushed wide but still managed to straighten his bike before cutting through the gravel trap. This helped him cross the finish line ahead of Marquez. There were jubilations in the Yamaha camp but protests erupted from Honda garage that Rossi had cut the corner. After a while, the race director ruled in favor of Rossi on the strength of the helicopter shots, which revealed that Rossi was ahead and had the right of the way into the corner. It was said that after being nudged by Marquez, Rossi had no option but to cut the corner. Rossi’s teammate Lorenzo took the third place and Andrea Iannone finished fourth on his Ducati. Pol Espargaro of Spain was fifth; Britain’s Cal Crutchlow was sixth; Crutchlow’s compatriot Bradley Smith was seventh, Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa was eighth; Aleix Espargaro was ninth and another Spaniard Maverick Vinales finished at the tenth place.
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