MotoGP: Second for Petrucci in Assen
MotoGP: Second for Petrucci in Assen

It wasn’t of a lack of trying that prevented Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) from winning the eighth round of the MotoGP season at the Motul TT Assen.

After a solid performance throughout the weekend (that was jeopardised with rain on day two of the meeting) Petrucci, who missed out on pole position in the dying stages of Qualifying 2 was to start from third on the grid.

Petrucci immediately part of the lead four

When the race started he first settled into fourth in the pack. He remained there behind rookie leader, Johann Zarco (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) and Marc Marquez (Respol Honda) who both pipped him to pole position, and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha). Seeing Zarco was breaking away slightly at the front, Rossi made his move on Marquez and worked on pursuing the French double champion, before he took the lead on the 12th lap.

Seeing this Petrucci responded, especially when he saw Zarco make a mistake when he touched Rossi and ran wide, and both Marquez and Petrucci slipped through forcing him down to fourth. Four laps later, on lap 16, Petrucci was all over the back of Marquez and once he passed him, he immediately began to pull away from the 2016 MotoGP champion.

White flag waved as rain fell

As he continued in pursuit of Rossi, the white flag was waved as rain had started to fall once again in Assen, and the riders were able to return to the pits to change bikes which were set up for the wet. With only eight laps to go however, many chose to refrain from making the change and chose to endure the conditions; although rain drops were falling, the track was still dry and without standing water.

This is when Petrucci struck. He caught Rossi and a pass looked adamant. They were soon caught by Andrea Dovizioso who joined in on the fun. The factory Ducati rider passed Petrucci on the final chicane of the 21st lap, but on the next lap he retaliated. The two battled, but stayed firmly in touch with Rossi at the front.

On lap 23, Petrucci lunged underneath Dovizioso to reclaim second, and then looked up the inside of Rossi, but the Yamaha rider outbraked him. However, at the last chicane Petrucci made another move that gained him the lead once again. The following lap saw Dovizioso run wide and lost third to Marquez but at the front Petrucci continued in his pursuit of Rossi.

Petrucci held up by back-markers

The two pulled away at the front until once again Rossi ran up the inside of Petrucci at the final chicane before they began the penultimate lap where they began a drag race down t he start-finish straight. They then began to come across back markers. Rossi passed by Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) with ease, but Petrucci became tangled, had to run up the inside of the Spaniard who has just returned from injury, and forced him over before continuing on.

Petrucci finishes second in Assen

Despite working to recover the time and momentum lost in the incident, where there may have not been a blue flag to signal oncoming traffic, Petrucci was unable to catch Rossi in time and instead crossed the line at the TT Circuit Assen in second, just 0.063 seconds behind Rossi.

It was a fantastic result for Petrucci who definitely appears to have had a breakthrough with the Desmosedici GP 17. Petrucci described second in Assen at the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ as a “great result” and explained that he was “very happy for this P2” although he went on to “admit that for a long time [he] had the taste of victory” in his mouth.

He described how he was “convinced [he] could pass Valentino in the last lap”. He confirmed that “everything was set for the overtake” but then unfortunately he “struggled to pass Rins and Barbera who were lapped”.

He described is as a “pity” although he reassured himself that the following morning that he would “realise what they] did”, confirming that it was “a great weekend”. He went on to speak of how he “can not wait to be in Germany” where he said, “I want to win!