Italian MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi won a gripping Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday to reignite the evergreen 38-year-old’s dream of a 10th world title, as Maverick Vinales’ nightmare run continued.
Vinales went into this eighth leg of the season in Assen leading the 2017 championship, but after making up ground from 11th on the grid to fifth, he crashed out on lap 12. The Yamaha rider leaves the circuit known as ‘the cathedral of speed’ trailing Andrea Dovizioso, who took fifth, by four points.
Rossi’s 10th win at the track lifted him into third, only three points away with defending champion Marc Marquez breathing down his neck, four points behind in the tightest championship battle since the current points system was introduced in 1993.
Rossi had to call on all his skill and strength in his 20th season to get the better of his compatriot Danilo Petrucci. The sport’s headline act crossed the line barely the length of his Yamaha bike in front of Petrucci, who was only six years old when Rossi lined up for his first ever grand prix in 1996.
Marquez came in third ahead of Briton Cal Crutchlow and Dovizioso. The surprise pole sitter, MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco, manfully fought off Marquez’s attack to the first corner but Yamaha Tech’s French rider then lost ground before pitting to change to wet tyres and finished 14th.
Zarco held control until he was overtaken by Rossi on lap 12, only to lose his gamble on the track when hit by a downpour. Despite the disappointment of failing to capitalise on his superb performance in qualifying on Saturday, Zarco can take consolation from at least finishing in front of a three-time former world champion, Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo had a weekend to forget, being relegated to the penultimate row of the grid and had to settle for 15th.