This meant that the tyre choices the riders had to make was extra difficult. As it continued to rain before the race riders set the bikes up with full wet tyres and steel disc brakes as the carbon disks struggle to retain heat in those conditions.
Drama before the race got underway
Andrea Dovizioso claimed pole at the Cathedral of Speed and his Ducati teammate Andrea Iannone, even though he qualified in ninth, had to start the race from the back of the grid.
He was penalised for the incident during the Barcelona GP involving 2016 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) where the two came into contact and ended up in the gravel; the two blamed each other for causing the incident.
The Italian ‘Maniac’ was fastest again during warm-up as he remained determine to make up for lost time during the race.
However he gained one place prior to the start as an incident occurred with Eugene Laverty (Aspar Racing MotoGP), he crashed during his out lap as he struggled for grip from the tyres, the footpeg was broken and so he had to make his way back to the pits where he would start the warm-up lap from the pit lane and start the race from the last place on the grid.
Fantastic start for Redding but it did not stick
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) got an amazing start and led into the first corner but ran off track on the first corner and lost several places.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) took advantage and now led ahead of Dovizioso with Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in third in front of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda). Despite crashing in the morning warm-up session, Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Racing Team MotoGP) was able to take advantage of Lorenzo and continued to progress as he was in third by the end of the first lap.
Iannone had a flying first lap and was in seventh by the time they completed lap two.
Conditions the cause of shock results
The riders teetered round in the wet conditions and on lap three Hernandez passed Rossi to take the lead when Rossi ran slightly wide.
The Colombian was running the two-year old Ducati on a rear soft wet tyre and soon he had pulled out a lead on the nine times world champion.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) was also thriving in the wet conditions and got past Marquez on lap five to claim fourth. He was constantly improving and setting the fastest lap as he pursued third place Ducati rider Dovizioso.
It was not long before Iannone was in fifth position as he soon made way past Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) to claim fifth pushing the current championship leader before the race down the ranks.
Eighteen laps remained and after the track had appeared to be drying out, out came the precipitation flag as well as the diminished adhesion flag as rain began to fall again.
As the rain fell Dovizioso caught up to Rossi and as they crossed the line with 16 laps remaining Dovizioso accelerated past the Italian as he struggled to leave the last corner off the circuit.
Petrucci now had to take on Rossi if he was to claim at podium at the wet Cathedral of Speed. Meanwhile, Rossi’s teammate Lorenzo was struggling massively as he was down in nineteenth position.
Disaster for the race leader
Turn one of lap ten, Hernandez fell off. He had ridden amazingly so far and as the conditions continued to get worse he slid off.
The young rider was able to get the bike picked up and restarted but was in 19th when he re-joined. He made his way to the pits where he changed bikes and was now in last place as he made his way back out on track on full wets again.
But was that allowed? Riders are usually only permitted to change their bike and return to track on opposite tyres, to wet from dry or to dry from wet. There was no way that Hernandez could have gone out on anything but wets, but would he be penalised for this?
Thirteen laps remained, the race continued in the torrential conditions when Iannone crashed out after making his way up to fifth from the rear of the grid.
Meanwhile at the front, Rossi had just felt the wrath of Petrucci, Rossi fought back and caught Dovizioso as he tried to get away from Petrucci but the Italian rider who has recently returned from injury got back past Rossi.
When riders are in such conditions they are to have a red light on at the rear of their machines but Rossi’s was not on. Soon, Petrucci’s teammate Redding had made his way up to the front and did not hesitate in passing Rossi pushing him down to fourth. Bravely the two battled on track for fourth position; surely they had to stop the race soon for safety!
News came through that Hernandez crashed again with 12 laps remaining whilst at the front Petrucci overtook Dovizioso to take the lead at Assen. He led for a few corners but then unfortunately for the Italian, despite his best efforts, the red flag came out and the “Session red-flagged due to weather conditions.” The plan was to restart the race with a minimum of five laps and grid positions would be determined by the positions from the previous lap. Unfortunately for Petrucci this was when he was in second place. Hernandez was not permitted to participate in the restart.
“Race re-start pending on weather conditions”
The message changed from Race Direction to “Race re-start pending on weather conditions” as the rain storm did not seem to be easing; the rain was continuing to come down heavily. It was then announced that a “Race restart (12 laps) pending on weather conditions.” Then as they waited for the rain which still was not easing Race Control announced, “If the race is re-started, the grid positions will be based on lap 14 standings." The safety car was out lapping on track as riders waited in the pits to hear whether the race would be abandoned.
Eventually the rain eased off, it was blue skies again, marshals swept the surface water off the track and riders were to follow the “Quick Start” procedure when the pit lane was to re-open.
Riders would have a limited time to exit the pit lane when it opened for a short window (one minute), they would assemble on the grid where one mechanic would be positioned to ensure everything was correct, mechanics would then be removed from the track, riders would complete another sighting lap and then the race would be restarted.
Many riders were seen changing to the soft rear wet tyre for the second half of the race where the track temperature was now 20 degrees celsius.
Race restarted but first lap full of incidents
Dovizioso was in pole position ahead of Petrucci and Rossi who completed the front row, but it was Marquez who led into turn one; he ran wide and ended up third behind Dovizioso and Rossi. Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) ran off into the gravel but did not drop his GSX-RR; this was as a result of him being hit in the side by Iannone who was forced out wide by Laverty who was on the inside. Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) made his way up to fourth but as they got to turn nine Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) dropped his Honda when the front tucked under. More disappointment followed for Honda as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed out at turn twelve.
Rossi now led after the first lap ahead of Dovizioso and Marquez. Miller was in fourth ahead of Petrucci, Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha), his teammate Bradley Smith, Redding in eighth, rookie Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) in ninth ahead of Irishman Laverty (who should be used to these conditions). All riders were on the soft front and rear Michelin wet.
Disaster as the Catherdral of Speed proved difficult for even the most experienced of riders
Turn 12 of the second lap and Dovizioso slid out after the front end tucked. Sparks flew everywhere as his bike slid into the gravel.
Then on Turn 15 Smith was the latest to crash out ending his weekend early. Shockingly then on the third lap of 12 at turn ten, Rossi went to tip it into the corner and again the front end tucked underneath and sent him into the gravel.
Rossi struggled to pick up his bike and get it restarted as the rain started again, he had to give up and accept it was race over. On the next lap Aleix Espargaro fell off at turn eleven; all riders were fortunately unhurt but only seventeen remained.
Miller takes the lead at the Assen GP
Meanwhile at the front Miller was chasing Marquez who now found himself in the lead. Miller was determined and on the fourth lap he made his move and overtook the championship leader to take the lead.
Miller, on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda, an independent team that are in only their second season since they joined the MotoGP class last season. The two leaders continued to collect their personal best lap times as the race continued. Unfortunately for his teammate, rookie Rabat he crashed with seven laps remaining but he was able to re-join the race.
Five laps remained and the sun began to shine on the TT Circuit Assen. Redding was hot on the tail of Pol Espargaro in third. A dry line was forming and the spray was reducing as they chipped away at the laps. It appeared that Marquez had settled for second position knowing that if he just completed the race he would gain 20 championship points, Rossi was out and not going to collect any this round and Lorenzo was in eleventh where he would only collect five points.
Smith almost crashed again as he struggled to stop his Yamaha and ended up running into the gravel. He quickly made his way pack on to the track and did return to the pits temporarily but re-joined the race as he would have finished in 14th and claimed two championship points by just staying on until the flag. Two laps remained and Redding made his move, he cleanly overtook the Pol Espargaro to take third position.
Last lap, and not only was Miller leading with a few seconds between him and Marquez, he was catching Pedrosa as if to lap the factory Honda rider. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashed out from sixth place and looked incredibly angry which meant Lorenzo gained another place and more championship points.
Miller makes history with his first MotoGP win
Miller won, the first independent team victory since Toni Elias in Portugal in 2016. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team made history on their Honda and where delighted with the performance from their Australian rider. His consistency paid off and he was overwhelmed with the result. The team were keen to celebrate in the sunshine; it was almost like they were at a completely different location to the scenes witnessed earlier on in the day. Marquez finished in second, he was also delighted with his result and was seen celebrating as if he had won. Then in third position was British rider Redding. Two independent teams had made it to the podium; Redding was also overcome with emotion as he celebrated with his term in parc ferme.
Marquez remains the championship leader ahead of Lorenzo and Rossi.
|1||43 Jack Miller||Australia||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||25|
|2||93 Marc Marquez||Spain||Repsol Honda||Honda||20|
|3||45 Scott Redding||GBR||Octo Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||16|
|4||44 Pol Espargaro||Spain||Monster Tech 3 Yamaha||Yamaha||13|
|5||29 Andrea Iannone||Italy||Ducati||Ducati||11|
|6||8 Hector Barbera||Spain||Avintia Racing||Ducati||10|
|7||50 Eugene Laverty||Ireland||Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||9|
|8||6 Stefan Bradl||Germany||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||7|
|9||25 Maverick Vinales||Spain||Team Suzuki Ecstar||Suzuki||7|
|10||99 Jorge Lorenzo||Spain||Movistar Yamaha||Yamaha||6|
|11||53 Tito Rabat||Spain||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||5|
|12||26 Dani Pedrosa||Spain||Repsol Honda||Honda||4|
|13||38 Bradley Smith||GBR||Monster Tech 3 Yamaha||Yamaha||3|
|9 Alvaro Bautista||Spain||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||1 lap|
|51 Michele Pirro||Italy||Avintia Racing||Ducati||7 laps|
|46 Valentino Rossi||Italy||Movistar Yamaha||Yamaha||10 laps|
|41 Aleix Espargaro||Spain||Team Suzuki Ecstar||Suzuki||10 laps|
|4 Andrea Dovizioso||Italy||Ducati Team||Ducati||11 laps|
|9 Danilo Petrucci||Italy||Octo Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||11 laps|
|35 Cal Crutchlow||GBR||LCR Honda||Honda||0 laps|
|68 Yonny Hernandez||Colombia||Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||0 lap|