Rossi back to his old magic at Assen thriller

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING -

YAMAHA’S Italian great Valentino Rossi made his­tory and re­turned to the top of the Mo­toGP podium for the first time in more than a year on Sun­day af­ter win­ning a thrilling Dutch TT at Assen by a frac­tion of a sec­ond.

The ev­er­green 38-year-old beat com­pa­triot Danilo Petrucci, on a non-works Octo Pra­mac Du­cati, to sec­ond place by a mere 0.063 secs with rain mid­way through the race mak­ing con­di­tions tricky.

Triple world cham­pion Marc Mar­quez was third for Honda.

Rossi has now been a win­ner across all classes for longer than any other rider in the his­tory of mo­tor­cy­cling, Sun­day’s vic­tory com­ing 20 years and 313 days since his first in what was then the 125cc cat­e­gory.

Fel­low Italian An­drea Dovizioso fin­ished fifth for Du­cati to take over at the top of the stand­ings, four points clear of Yamaha’s Spa­niard Mav­er­ick Vi­nales who crashed out af­ter start­ing in 11th place.

Rossi is now third over­all and seven points off the lead.

He now has 115 grand prix wins across all classes, sec­ond only to com­pa­triot Gi­a­como Agos­tini’s 122 vic­to­ries be­tween 1964 and 1977.

“This place is al­ways spe­cial,” said Rossi of a cir­cuit known as the ‘Cathe­dral’ of mo­tor­cy­cling. “I am so happy for me and my team be­cause I’m back in first place af­ter one year and it was a great race.”

The vic­tory was Rossi’s 10th at Assen but first since the Cata­lan Grand Prix in Barcelona on June 5 last year.

The Italian took the lead with 15 laps to go af­ter start­ing fourth, with French Yamaha Tech3 rider Jo­hann Zarco on pole for the first time, but was then over­taken by Petrucci with five re­main­ing af­ter rain be­gan to fall.

Rossi hit back on the fol­low­ing lap and held on to the fin­ish.

Zarco fell out of con­tention af­ter pit­ting to swap bikes with seven laps to go and then be­ing caught speed­ing in the pit­lane.

Vi­nales had made his way to fifth place be­fore crash­ing at the chi­cane.

- Reuters

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