Miller and Marquez Take Brilliant First and Second at Rainy Assen
Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) scored a stunning first MotoGP victory at rain-lashed Assen today, taking advantage of the ever-changing weather conditions to beat the established stars with a perfectly executed ride in a restarted and shortened race.
The Australian was followed home by twice MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V), whose 20-point haul moves him 24 points ahead of reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who finished in tenth position. The result was Honda’s third MotoGP victory of 2016 and its first one-two of the year.
The 26-lap Dutch MotoGP race got underway on a wet track at the usual 2pm start time, but at half-distance a torrential rain storm hit the circuit, flooding the track and creating a fog of spray that made it too treacherous to continue, so the race was red flagged.
A new 12-lap race got underway at 3pm, with the track still wet, but with much less standing water and much better visibility. Former World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) led the way until he fell on the third lap.
Rossi’s exit handed the lead to Marquez, riding fast but taking care not to take big risks that might endanger his points lead, with Miller right behind. Soon the former Moto3 race winner moved ahead of the former 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP champion. Marquez knew discretion was the better part of valor today, so he didn’t chase his fellow RC213V rider, but followed at a respectful distance to make sure of his third consecutive second-place finish. At the end he was 1.9 seconds down on the winner.
Miller’s inch-perfect win was historic for a couple of reasons. The 21-year-old born in Townsville (Queensland) is the first non-factory team rider to win a MotoGP race since Toni Elias won the 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix aboard his Honda RC211V, riding for Fausto Gresini’s team. He is also the first Australian to win a MotoGP race since Casey Stoner won the 2012 Australian GP on his Repsol Honda RC212V. This was Miller’s first GP win since he won the 2014 Valencia Moto3 race. His previous best result in the premier class was tenth at the Catalan GP earlier this month.
Understandably, Miller was somewhat emotional after his unexpected victory, which is the culmination of years of hard work. The youngster and his parents Sonya and Peter first came to Europe in 2010 when they lived in caravan parks, while Miller learned his craft on a Honda RS125. He made his GP debut in 2011, when he also won the German 125cc championship. He started his full-time 125 career the next year. In 2014 he finished second in the Moto3 World Championship behind Honda’s Alex Marquez. Last year he moved directly to MotoGP with Honda, missing out the Moto2 class.
Today’s race was less kind to Honda’s other three MotoGP riders. Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) fell victim to the tricky conditions, sliding off during the second race. But they were both undaunted and picked up their bikes to restart. Rabat reached the checkered flag in 11th and Pedrosa in 12th.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V), who was a superb fifth fastest in yesterday’s qualifying outing, also slid off but was unable to restart.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) scored a richly deserved maiden Grand Prix victory in the Honda-powered Moto2 race, which started on a dry track and was red-flagged after 21 laps when the first rain arrived at Assen. The 24-year-old from Chiba is the first Japanese rider to win a GP since Yuki Takahashi won the Catalan Moto2 race in 2010.
Nakagami made his GP debut in the 125 class in 2007 and has been fighting for his first Moto2 win since 2012. He got agonizingly close on several previous occasions, taking four second-place finishes in 2013.
The Japanese, whose team is run by former Repsol Honda factory rider and 500cc GP winner Tadayuki Okada, grabbed the lead from Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex) shortly before half-distance and quickly set about escaping from the pack. At one point he enjoyed a three-second lead – an eon in a class in which all riders use identically prepared CBR600 engines – and he was 2.4 seconds up when the red flags came out a few laps before the finish.
Reigning World Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) had to work hard to fight clear of the pack and get Nakagami in his sights; but the rain ended any chance he might have had of scoring a third consecutive win. However, his third podium in a row moves him into the championship lead, equal on points with Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) but ahead of the Spaniard thanks to his three race wins to Rins’s two.
Morbidelli was delighted to take third, his first podium result of the season, three seconds behind Zarco.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team Kalex) enjoyed a thrilling duel for fourth place, swapping positions frequently. Lowes finally got the upper hand by eight tenths of a second.
Rins was next in sixth, one of his worst results of the year, and just ahead of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Speed Up). They finish five seconds ahead of the trio that completed the top ten – Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex), Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) – who crossed the finish line separated by just four tenths of a second.
Pole-position man Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex) led the first lap but struggled with grip and slipped down the order before finally sliding off without injury.
Hugely talented Moto3 rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) came within four hundredths of a second of winning his first Grand Prix in today’s Moto3 race, crossing the line three abreast with two rivals in a frantic six-man rush to the finish.
The 17-year-old Roman was originally classified as the third-place finisher, just 0.039 seconds behind winner Francesco Bagnaia (Mahindra) but he was soon promoted to second after race officials decided that Andrea Migno (KTM) had exceeded track limits on the last lap and was demoted to third. Di Giannantonio rode his first GP at Valencia last November and this is his second podium result, following his first at Mugello last month.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250RW) and Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250RW) were also in the midst of the battle for victory; Antonelli actually taking the lead for the first time on the last lap, but at the flag they were fifth and sixth.
The top ten were covered by one second, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) taking tenth place in his first ride substituting for Jorge Navarro, who recently broke a leg.
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) were also in the thick of the tightly packed group until they tangled with other riders and fell.
The ninth Grand Prix of 2016 – the season’s halfway point – takes place at the Sachsenring, Germany, on July 17.
Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes
- Jack Miller, EG 0,0 Marc VDS: 1st
- “I don’t often say this but I’m lost for words. I feel incredibly emotional right now and it is hard to describe the sensation of winning for the first time in MotoGP. I felt confident and fast in the first part of the race but it was the right call to red flag it because the conditions were getting pretty dangerous. The track was really slippery for part two as well but I immediately felt comfortable. I could see a few riders making mistakes but I just kept my focus and concentrated on being fast and consistent without taking any silly risks. Once I passed Marc I just tried to block out the fact that I was heading for my first win and keep a clear mind. Coming out of the final chicane and seeing the checkered flag was just an unbelievable feeling. My family and I have made a lot of sacrifices to make today happen and it feels amazing. I can’t thank Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS enough. They have given me incredible support and never stopped believing in me. I must also thank Honda and their management for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to show what I can do at this level. It might take a while to sink in but I am going to enjoy tonight that’s for sure!”
- Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 2nd
- “Today’s race was one of those in which you can either lose many points or gain them, and you can face it with two mentalities: either you take a risk to gain a bigger advantage, or you focus on finishing the race in order to lose the fewest points possible. The latter is the mentality that the team repeated to me about 40 times from this morning, and it is exactly what I did. I tried to stay in the top five so as not to drop many points to Valentino and attempted to not make mistakes in order to finish the race. At the beginning of the first race I didn’t feel comfortable and lost touch, but then I was able to recover. I think that stopping the race was a good decision, because it was very dangerous out there. In the second race I started off thinking about pushing a bit more, but everyone was very fast and I decided not to follow Rossi and Dovizioso because they were going too quickly. Then both of them crashed. When I saw Jack stalking behind me, I knew that he would be going for his first win so I preferred to let him pass and keep a couple of seconds gap between us, as well as a cushion to third place. I did that because with Jorge so far back and Rossi out of the race, second place was as good as a victory. In the end, we leave Assen with a bigger lead.”
- Tito Rabat, EG 0,0 Marc VDS: 11th
- “It was a very difficult race and tricky conditions but I am happy to score more points. In the second race I’d got into the top 10 and felt I had a very good pace. I’m not normally so confident in the rain conditions but I felt really comfortable. I tried to pass Bautista because I was quite a bit faster than him in the last two sectors but I carried a bit more lean angle at turn 11 and it was a huge mistake because I crashed. I was lucky to be able to rejoin the race and I’m happy to finish and gain a lot of experience of the bike, tires and electronics in the race. I want to say big congratulations to Jack and the whole team for the victory today. He rode an unbelievable race and deserved his victory.”
- Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 12th
- “It’s been a pretty tough weekend but races like today are a lottery. In the first race it seemed that the race strategy of running the soft tire had gone well. At first, when the track was drying, I went slowly, but when it started to rain I upped my pace very quickly while others were at a disadvantage. However, that was when the Race Direction decided to stop the race. I felt unlucky, because it turned out that thinking ahead or trying to pick a different strategy wasn’t beneficial. In the second race I crashed on the first lap, because I had a new rear tire without too much grip. It has been a difficult Grand Prix but we will try to find better solutions for the next race and regain our feeling in order to go faster.”
- Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: DNF
- “I’m not happy as you can imagine. Everything in a race like today is going to be an if, but or a maybe, but I felt great in the first part of the race. The tire wasn’t working properly at the start and I was struggling to get heat into it, but then as soon as it started to dry I was the fastest man on the circuit. I feel I would have won the race. Then it started raining again and it was a disaster. In the restart I chose the softer tire and crashed out, simply because I had too much grip in the rear tire. I had no experience on the tire apart from in the qualifying session yesterday, and the conditions were so different. I got caught out with a cold front tire, and honestly I am so disappointed. Take nothing away from the guys on the podium, especially Jack, but I felt there was an opportunity to finish the race on the podium and maybe win it. Jack took that chance, and I’m really pleased for him. If there was anyone else on the grid I’d want to win apart from myself, and it would be him.”
Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes
- Takaaki Nakagami, Idemitsu Honda Team Asia: 1st
- “This is the first Japanese win for six years, so I want to say sorry to all the Japanese fans for too much waiting! It’s a special day – my first victory. The race was difficult, especially the beginning. I had a great fight with many guys, then when I took the lead from Franco I pushed very hard for five or six laps and once I saw I had a good gap I started to control that. I was trying not to make any mistakes and praying there would be no rain, but eventually it came and luckily the red flags came out quickly. It was a shame not to see the checkered flag for my first win, but the main thing is that I did win!”
- Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport: 2nd
- “It was a very good weekend, with us finishing second and leading the World Championship. The race was very difficult because there was a large battle between many riders. I fought hard and felt I was able to get in front and set my pace, but sometimes made a mistake and lost positions again. I saw Nakagami had taken the lead and I thought it was possible to catch him. When I was up into second he was setting a very good pace, so I tried to give my best and thought that reaching him was possible until the end, even with the rain. I think stopping the race was a good decision, because at the end the track was very slippery and it was risky. I’m happy for Takaaki, he deserved it. Overall, the weekend has been very good, I am very happy with how it went and I want to thank the whole team, because I feel very good on the bike and that is key to being up at the front.”
- Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS: 3rd
- “This has been a very good day and I’m very happy to get my first podium with the team, we have had this potential since the first race of the season. I want to dedicate this first podium to every single person in the team because they deserve it. When I saw the spots of rain I was bit more scared than the other guys so I slowed a little to make sure I got this first podium of the season. In the beginning of the race I had a lot of fun fighting with the front guys and leading for six laps. Now I have a lot of expectation for the next race at the Sachsenring, where I have always been fast.”
Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes
- Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing Moto3: 2nd
- “At the beginning of the race I was determined to catch the leading group and after a few laps I did it; later, however, there have been some contacts with other riders, including Binder, who passed me under braking on the first corner, touching me and forcing me to go wide. I had to push hard to recover and so I made a few mistakes, so in the end I tried to stay more focused, setting my pace, and when I saw that I could close the gap with the front group I started to think that the podium was possible. On the last lap I attacked right away, making two passes, then I took the final fast corner on the outside in order to stay on the inside under braking for the last chicane: that was a good move because I managed to pass Fenati, claiming the third place that later became the second due to Migno’s penalty. It was a difficult race, but in the end we did it!”
- Niccolo Antonelli, Ongetta-Rivacold: 5th
- “Today I made a great comeback from 13th position. It was a shame to miss the podium because I really would like to have made the top three here at Assen. I was second just three corners from the end, but I got blocked in the group and that made me lose the podium. Anyway, we were fast this weekend and that’s an important signal for the next races. We will try again at Sachsenring.”
- Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 10th
- “I felt good in the race. I didn’t have much feeling with the front on the first few laps, but as time went by I was more and more comfortable. That is a sign that we worked very well during the weekend. On the final laps there was a lot of overtaking, and that made me lose touch with the front group. I pushed hard again, but on the last three corners I dropped down three places when I made a mistake trying to overtake Bulega. I got my second top ten, after my eighth place at Silverstone last year. Thanks to the team – I am very happy.”
Credit: Honda Worldwide
|1||Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Scott REDDING (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich)|
|4||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Andrea IANNONE (Ducati Team)|
|6||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Racing)|
|7||Eugene LAVERTY (Aspar Team MotoGP)|
|8||Stefan BRADL (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|9||Maverick VIÑALES (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|10||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|11||Tito RABAT (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|12||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|13||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|RT||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|RT||Michele PIRRO (Ducati Team)|
|1||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|2||Johann ZARCO (Ajo Motorsport)|
|3||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|4||Sam LOWES (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|5||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Forward Team)|
|6||Alex RINS (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|7||Simone CORSI (Speed Up Racing)|
|8||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|9||Dominique AEGERTER (CarXpert Interwetten)|
|10||Jonas FOLGER (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|11||Xavier SIMEON (QMMF Racing Team)|
|12||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|13||Marcel SCHROTTER (AGR Team)|
|14||Danny KENT (Leopard Racing)|
|15||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Leopard Racing)|
|1||Francesco BAGNAIA (ASPAR Mahindra Team Moto3)|
|2||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Gresini Racing Moto3)|
|3||Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|4||Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|5||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|6||Jules DANILO (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|7||Nicolo BULEGA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|8||Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)|
|9||Bo BENDSNEYDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|10||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|11||Philipp OETTL (Schedl GP Racing)|
|12||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|13||Jakub KORNFEIL (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team)|
|14||Maria HERRERA (MH6 Team)|
|15||Livio LOI (RW Racing GP BV)|