With epic ride in Assen
Valentino Rossi put in one of the outstanding performances of his career aboard his one-off liveried ‘Cinquecento' Fiat Yamaha at the Dutch TT today, taking a superb victory from 11th on the grid.
His third win of the season is also Yamaha's
150th in total in the premier class of Grand Prix racing. Colin Edwards' was unable to match the outstanding performance of his team-mate today but nonetheless rode a solid race to finish in his grid position of sixth.
After difficulties in yesterday's wet qualifying Rossi was left with a mountain to climb today and, with championship rival Casey Stoner starting from the front row, there was no room for error from the Italian. Rossi made up little ground at the start but after the first couple of laps he found his rhythm and began a spectacular charge to the front, passing rider after rider w ith a series of bold moves and eventually making his way up to second behind Stoner by lap 12 of 26, setting a string of fastest laps on the way.
The seven-time world champion was then faced with the task of closing a gap of almost two seconds to the championship leader but within just a few laps he had done just that and moved to within striking distance of the lead. It was no easy job to pass the Australian however and he made several unsuccessful attempts before finally making a pass stick through the chicane with three laps remaining, eventually crossing the line 1.909 seconds clear.
Edwards meanwhile was unable to capitalise on his fast race pace and, although he was lapping at a similar pace to the front runners throughout, he was unable to close the gap after being caught in traffic at the start. Rossi's maximum-points haul today closes the gap to Stoner at the top of the standings to 21 points, whilst Edwards' ten points see him hold ont o seventh at the half-way point of the season.
"This was an incredible race.
I think maybe one of the top five of my career! Clearly starting from 11th is quite lucky for us because I've won a few times from that position, including last year at Sachsenring. Last night I didn't sleep so well and I couldn't have imagined that the race could turn out like this, in fact I was really a little bit worried after the qualifying and didn't know what to expect today! Once I got going though I saw that I had a great pace and so I just rode as hard as I could to get past everyone because I knew then that I could come back to Casey. When I finally got there I was quite tired, as were my tyres, plus he was riding very well and it was hard to overtake him, but my M1 worked brilliantly today and in the last few laps I was able to go past and win. I have to say a big thank yo u to Michelin and to my team, because today our package was brilliant and I was able to ride at the maximum. I'm so happy to win here in Assen, it's a special place for me and this is a great emotion! It was nice to have a special livery here as well, in the past I haven't been so lucky with new liveries but hopefully today has turned that around! Congratulations to Yamaha for 150 wins, I am glad that we could celebrate like this!"
"My start wasn't too bad but I got tangled up in a bit of a jumble through the first couple of laps and Pedrosa passed me. Once I got myself sorted I set off with Melandri and Vermeulen in my sights and I thought I'd be able to get past them relatively easily because my pace was pretty good, but I couldn't quite get close enough for a few laps. Eventually I got through them both and really got my head down; I was lapping faster than I have been all weekend and actually at one stage I thought the podium was a possibility. I was pushing pretty hard to be honest and I had a couple of close moments but I didn't want to settle for sixth. Things were going okay until there was a stage of the race when things started to feel not quite 100% and I had to slack off a little. Towards the end I started to catch Hopkins again and started to get back to a good pace but unfortunately by then he'd pulled a couple of seconds from me and I just ran out of time. Congratulations to Valentino, he rode an incredible race today."
"This was a fantastic race with which to celebrate Yamaha's 150th win and we couldn't have dreamed of a better race than this after yesterday's qualifying. Valentino was incredible once again and he rode a truly amazing race. The package we had today, with the bike and the tyres working so well, gave Valentino the chance to ride at the maximum so we have to say a big thank you to Michelin, Yamaha and the whole team. It was a great emotion for everyone to watch Valentino ride like this today. Colin also did a good race and he had a fast pace throughout, although unfortunately he wasn't able to close the gap to the front. He was doing similar times to the leaders though so this is encouraging for the next races. It's going to be a hard fight for the rest of year but we have a lot of motivation. It's been a fun story with Fiat this weekend as well with our special livery and it's definitely a great start to the story of the new Fiat 500!"