Jack Miller claims maiden MotoGP win and becomes first independent team rider to chart a race win in dramatic Dutch GP.
Though the weather wreaked havoc in the iconic Assen TT circuit during the Dutch GP weekend, it proved to be the perfect catalyst in turning the 250th MotoGP race in the four-stroke era into a memorable one.
MotoGP – Miller walks on water
Initially, the weekend began strongly for the factory Ducati riders throughout practice before culminating with Andrea Dovizioso’s sensational pole position ride during Saturday’s wet Qualifying session. Even the Italian marque’s satellite outfits were on point led by Octo Pramac Yakhnich-Ducati rider Scott Redding who qualified third.
Sandwiched in between the two Ducati’s in the front row was title hopeful Valentino Rossi who lined up his Movistar yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 in second. With title rivals Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo settling for fourth and a dismal 10th respectively, Rossi had the initial advantage during the weekend as far as the title race was concerned.
Alas, rain once led to riders starting the race on Sunday with wet tyres on, bringing out plenty of thrills, spills and surprises. Taking a surprising lead here was Colombian Yonny Hernandez astride the satellite Aspar Ducati machine who started from sixth. However, his race lead ended when he crashed out on Lap 12, handing the lead back to Andrea Dovizioso who managed to keep Rossi at bay in second right up until the red flag.
Dovizioso’s top form also came to an end in the restarted race as he crashed out on the second lap along with Octo Pramac Yakhnich-Ducati rider Danillo Petrucci who also showed tremendous mastery of the wet Assen TT track. The biggest upset came when Valentino Rossi also fell whilst leading the restarted race, making it his second crash of the season.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez then led the race for about a lap, but it was Australian Jack Miller astride the independent Honda-powered Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS machine that had the advantage and quickly took the race lead in the final nine laps.
Miller went on the clinch his maiden MotoGP race win, becoming the first independent team rider to do so in the premier MotoGP class, and the first Australian rider to chart a win since Casey Stoner’s retirement. Marquez, on the other hand settled for second.
Also celebrating here was Briton Scott Redding who managed to put his Octo Pramac Yakhnich-Ducati satellite machine in third. Indeed, Miller’s win and Redding’s podium were cause for celebration in the premier class’ satellite and independent teams community.
However, the biggest winner here was Marquez. With Rossi crashing out and Lorenzo settling for a dismal 10th place finish, the Spaniard’s 20-point haul sees him extending his lead with 145 points. Defending champion Lorenzo remains in second with 121 points whilst Rossi is still in third with 103 points.
Indeed, the 2016 Dutch GP in Assen stands as a huge turning point as far as the premier class’ title race is concerned.
Moto2 – Nakagami scores for Japan
In the supporting Moto2 class, it was Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami who took his maiden Moto2 class victory. At the same time, he also ends Japan’s winless drought in the class by dominating the rain-hit Moto2 race that was red-flagged with two laps remaining.
Joining Nakagami on the podium was defending class champion Johan Zarco after French rider took second astride the Ajo Motorsports machine. Italian Franco Morbidelli astride the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS machine took third to complete the all-Kalex podium whilst adding to the Marc VDS team’s podium count for the weekend after Jack Miller’s sensation premier class win.
With his second place finish, Zarco is now tied in the lead with title rival Alex Rins in the standings as both share a score of 126 points so far. Briton Sam Lowes is third 121 points.
Moto3 – Pecco and Mahindra scores first win
Last but not the least came the thrilling close race action in the lightweight Moto3 class as it brought out yet another close multi-bike fight to the finish. Winning this six-bike melee was Italian rider Francescco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia astride the Aspar Mahindra Moto3 machine.
With the feat, Pecco not only scored his maiden Moto3 class win, he also charted Mahindra’s first race win as well. Joining him on the podium was Italian rider Fabio Di Giannantonio astride the Honda-powered Gresini Moto3 machine, followed by Sky Racing Team VR46’s Andrea Migno in third to complete the all-Italian podium.
Championship leader Brad Binder had a dismal outing in Assen as he could only score a 12th place finish, but the South African rider still leads the standings with 151 points. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider still holds a comfortable 48-point lead over Jorge Navarro in second who sat out the Dutch GP weekend due to surgery.
Round 9 – German GP
The 2016 season will reach the halfway point of its 18-round calendar in the upcoming German GP at the 3.7km-long Sachsenring circuit. Round 9 in Germany will be held from July 15 to July 17 with Sunday’s race scheduled to kick off with Moto3 at 5:00pm*, Moto2 at 6:20pm* and the MotoGP main event at 8:00pm*.
(*Local Malaysian times)