2013 Assen MotoGP Saturday Round Up: How Legends Were Born And History Made

This was a day when legends were born. After race after race of watching clinical perfection, savored mainly by the Grand Prix connoisseur, the 83rd Dutch TT at Assen was a shot of raw, unfiltered passion, emotion, will, strength and determination. It was a day which will live in the memories of everyone there for many years to come, for more reasons than there is space to mention. It is partially a tale of how a great circuit helps produce great racing, but it is mostly about the way that logic does not always triumph in sport. And that the will to win can drive elite athletes to go beyond themselves, and explore limits they didn't know they had.

What will we remember most? Valentino Rossi's return to victory, after two barren years at Ducati and the fear that he had lost his edge with age? The exhilarating battles that took place for the top five, with passes being made despite the risks? With another chapter in the fierce rivalry that is building in Moto2, between Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding? With Luis Salom's mature and calculated last lap lunge to take the win in Moto3? Or the story of Jorge Lorenzo, who broke his collarbone on Thursday, flew back and forth to Barcelona to have a plate fitted, and then raced despite the pain, 36 hours after his operation?

Rossi's win was one for the record books. His 80th premier class win, making a total of 106 in Grand Prix. It moved him into second place behind Loris Capirossi in the list of all-time longest winning careers, with nearly 17 years between Rossi's first GP win, at Brno in August 1996, and his latest, here in Assen, at the end of June 2013. But it also put an end to the question marks over whether he was still capable of winning, or whether he has lost his chance in his time at Ducati.

Asked if he had thought this day would come again, he answered "Sincerely, I don't know." His return to Yamaha had not been as easy as he had hoped. The bike had changed since he had left, made better he admitted at the Sepang tests, but requiring a change to both the set up and his style to make it work for him. It had taken him a long time, so long that he had started to doubt again. But a modification at the Aragon test after Barcelona had given him the confidence in braking that he had been missing. Trailing the Hondas in the first few laps, the RC213V of Dani Pedrosa at least working better early in the race, Rossi had pushed past Marc Marquez and then Pedrosa to take the lead on lap six, at Assen's famous GT chicane.

The crowd erupted. A wave went up every time he went by, but at the two thirds mark, they started to get nervous. Marc Marquez had made his way past Dani Pedrosa, and Cal Crutchlow was closing on the Hondas, and Rossi's lead was slowly starting to shrink. But it held, and at the end, Rossi started pulling a gap again. An emotional Rossi, his body language a mixture of elation and relief, crossed the line to take the win. This was what he needed, what the crowd needed, and what a legion of fans around the world needed. It was one of his most special victories, he said, at a very special track.

Rossi was effusive in his gratitude, thanking Yamaha many times for having him back and giving him another chance on the M1. Most of all, he was grateful to his team, and his friends, and the people who had stood by him for the past two difficult years. Can he do it again? Rossi was confident that the fix found would work at most circuits, but he also admitted that the level of riding had been raised. The riders he was up against now are at a much higher level than he faced when he came into the class. Rossi told the press conference that he knew he had to take advantage of the fact that Lorenzo was not fully fit, and try to get ahead of the Hondas. Rossi is clearly still capable of winning, but against a fit Lorenzo, and Hondas which are not struggling with a lack of grip in the cold temperatures, the Italian veteran will find it much, much harder. At least he is back on the pace once again.

The race behind Rossi was thrilling too, with Marc Marquez holding off Cal Crutchlow on the last lap to finish ahead of the British rider on the podium. Holding on to second had partly been down to Marquez' injured finger, his hand getting caught on the brake as he grew tired and the injury grew more painful. That meant he stopped the bike in the middle of the corner, just where Crutchlow hadn't expected it. Crutchlow clipped the back of Marquez' bike, nearly ran off track, and rejoined to come home in third.

Crutchlow was mildly annoyed after the race, happy to be on the podium but frustrated because he believed he could have won the race. He lost ground in the early laps, as he always does, then made a couple of mistakes when he was passed by Jorge Lorenzo - the word he used himself was 'embarrassed', a phrase he then used to make a pointed attack on Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista, two 'riders on factory bikes' who had also finished behind the injured Lorenzo - and by then it was too late for him to catch Rossi at the front, despite the fact he had the pace to match him.

It was a popular podium, and also an important one. It marked the return of the battlers, the three men who do not focus on perfection, but instead trust in their skills in a dogfight to come out on top. All three made impertinent passes on their opponents, and tried passes that weren't really there, risking failure. It put the show at the heart of racing once again, not the contrived show of a rigged contest, but the pure competition between men who do not fear failure, and are prepared to gamble.

While the front three thrilled the crowd, they were in awe at the achievement of Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard made a point with a display of almost brutal determination at Assen, racing just 36 hours after having a collarbone plated. Directly after the crash, he had not intended racing, but his team manager Wilco Zeelenberg had coaxed him down a path which led almost inevitably to his return to race. It was Zeelenberg who had persuaded Lorenzo to get the collarbone plated as soon as possible, arguing that whether he raced on Saturday or not, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting the surgery done sooner rather than later. It was Zeelenberg who had accompanied Lorenzo to Barcelona, after the operating theater at Assen had been occupied by someone else with a life-threatening condition. It was Zeelenberg who discussed returning to Assen with Lorenzo after surgery, and then helped get him ready to take the medical test. It was Zeelenberg who had soothed Lorenzo's fears when conditions during warm up were most treacherous, a drying track and gusting winds.

But it was Lorenzo who had taken the decision to race. And what a race: charging forward in the early laps, then hunting down Crutchlow and looking like he might take Marc Marquez, and even Dani Pedrosa. Though he faded in the latter stages, he had a huge gap back to sixth position, and saw with satisfaction that first Marc Marquez and then Cal Crutchlow got past Dani Pedrosa.

When rumors of Lorenzo's return to Assen first surfaced, there was speculation that it was just a ruse to get an extra engine. After warm up, when it became clear he would be using an engine from his existing allocation, it seemed like a plan to try to salvage a few points from whatever he could get. After the race, he had lost only two points to Dani Pedrosa, assisted by the fact that the Repsol Honda man had struggled in the low temperature, low grip conditions. His decision to race had been more than vindicated, and his courage, determination, and willingness to accept pain had been established beyond question.

Lorenzo's status as semi-legend and man of steel is now unquestioned, but he has also achieved something else. He has made it very clear to any who doubt him just how far he will go in order to defend his world title. That display must have struck fear into the hearts of HRC, with Dani Pedrosa wondering just what he has to do to stop the Yamaha man. Lorenzo's performance at Assen must have made him seem like Schwarzenegger's Terminator in the minds of the men at Honda: a machine that nothing can stop.

Assen is a special circuit, and this was a special race. A special win for Rossi, and a special performance for Lorenzo. There are weekends when you want to give it all up and go and do something more sensible. Then there are weekends like this, that remind you of the passion that motorcycle racing generates, in those that practice it, in those that watch it, and in everyone involved in it. This is a wonderful sport, and the 2013 Assen MotoGP round was a reminder of just how good it can be.

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A week or so ago I stated that Rossi "can and will win again" when doubters were writting him off as a lost cause...It had to happen, just a case of when. And what a race for that 'when' to happen. I believed his team would eventually find that set up that Vale so needed, just like they eventually found the set up for the first switch to Bridgestones. (David---any idea what has been done to Vales bike ? )

Fantastic ride by Cal...he's gonna be on better machinery next year 'for sure' :O)

I used to laugh at JLos use of the Spartan Helmet imagery but this weekend he earned his title as SPARTAN WARRIOR !!!! Epic effort.

( http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tv-coverage-of-motogp-in-the-uk/ )

I've been a Rossi fan since his days on 125's, but today's race was about Jorge defending his title! OMG what a performance and the folks at HRC must be 'hoping! #93 doesn't make any more mistakes, because Dani doesn't appear to be tough enough to take on The Terminator!

David, disregarding all the heroics of a fantastic race for a moment it seems the by far the most interesting question in MotoGP at the moment is how Jorge Lorenzo is so fast off the line & so quick in the first couple of laps. Normally this advantage is hidden by Jorge qualifying well, today we saw Lorenzo start (injured) from P12 yet by the end of the first lap he was in p6 hounding Cal whose M1 Yamaha was slow off the line & pushing wide in the corners. So why this performance gulf in Lorenzo's favour, passing 5 or 6 top class bikes off the line despite his injury to hound pole sitter Cal who lost 5 places on the first half a lap?

My guess is the new shaped fuel tank that Cal talks about....and the 'new' clutch (that was tried/tested/developed by Ben Spies last year ?)

My own question is what exactly has Vales team done to his bike recently....one of the Eurosport commentators mentioning 'clever engineering', today during the race?

I remember commentators saying his wheel base is shorter and ballast is in different positions. Sorry I can't remember more.

I am sure that one of the happiest people to watch that race was Casey, seeing Pedrosa fade on a winning bike, seeing Marquez fill his boots so well, and I am sure that he enjoyed watching Vale back to full form and winning again. Jorge IronMan3 has more respect from me than I could ever have imagined, what a ride. But seriously, what the f@ck are the rest of the riders on factory machines up to? Bradl, Smith + Bautista??? And now that Vale has the Ducati off his back, where does that leave Ducati for all the investment? behind an Aprilia CRT FFS??? Jeremey and Vale and Casey were right and Ducati have been wrong for forever. Vorsrrung Durch Technic will be having a big sort out there at the end of the season.......

Stoner was beating Cal at Indy before Cal crashed even with the ruined ankle, and after Stoner rushed his return from surgery Cal failed to beat him once for the rest of the year. OK Cal's M1 wasn't factory but Dovi showed how fast the bike was. Cal rode a good race but seems to get a bit big headed sometimes

Lorenzo just made my worries thursday noon seem the most foolish thing ever. They guy has left me lost for words to describe his ride.

It's funny to see how luck took so many twists and turns this weekend championship wise. Lorenzo salvaged a disaster with his ride. Pedrosa had his worse race since Qatar, but stretched his lead on a Yamaha track. Maquez clawed back some reasonable points over Pedrosa and Lorenzo to remain within distance. Which all adds up the the battle being perfectly wide open.

It's gonna be very hard fought way until the end.

Now David, how about a reprise of the epic battle for seventh between Bautista, Espargaro, Smith, Hayden and Dovi, with de Puniet in there for a while too. Two satellite bikes, two factory bikes and two ART machines jostling for position. Surely this vindicates Dorna's decision to go the CRT route and if Yamaha and Honda don't come up with the goods in 2014, who cares? This is great racing as I am sure the crowd at Assen will agree. Just need to get the cameras to follow it a little more.

Just great for MotoGP!

I thought the Marquez performance was brilliant too and was slightly overshadowed by Rossi's masterful win.....rightfully so. Rossi is the GOAT! I never wrote him off nor would I ever bet against him.

I thought Marquez rode so well and very defensive leaving Crutchlow guessing and never giving him a chance. The lines Marc was using and his braking was fantastic.

I like Cal a lot but he seems to be the only one that has a little trouble passing the Hondas. Probably because his bike is inferior but nonetheless, I'd hope he was a little more assertive overall and passed Lorenzo sooner.... fear for Lorenzo's injured shoulder might've detered him some, but that's Crutchlow's loss.

But obviously this is Vale's return to the top step, it's his day.

Who knows, the next 2 rounds are tighter (Yamaha) tracks and Rossi does well at both. With Vale seemingly to have semi-fixed the bike/set-up, could we see him win 3 in-a-row? Long shot for sure, but I'm not betting against him.

When I heard Jorge was returning to Assen, my immediate question was, "where does he start the race from?"

I thought that having missed qualifying, he would start from the back of the grid. I saw the great Kenny Roberts do just that at Sears Point: he had the chain on his TZ750 come off in the first corner of his heat race, thus he failed to post a heat race time, so that meant he was on the back of a 40 bike grid.

So what are the rules in MotoGP?

It seems very curious.

This takes nothing away from Lorenzo's effort. I have wondered for some time why so-called 'fans' have denigrated his efforts over the years. I was concerned for his well-being in 2008 when his enthusiasm overcame common sense, and was stunned when he limped out on elbow crutches to get on his bike on one occasion.

I loved his post-race performances in the following years and miss them.

But this effort was truly phenomenal.

I bet he was really sore on Saturday night!

I believe the rule which allowed him to start 12th is new this year partially cause of the new qualifying format but I think his time set in FP2 before the crash qualified him for no better than 12th which ended up being 12th regardless of him participating in the qualifying sessions or not.

With his best time set in FP he qualified straight in to Q2 skipping Q1.

Now if you look at the official timing of Q2 you will see the Lorenzo is on the starting list but of course he didn't start. Therefore the result sheet puts him 12th of that session (with no time). Here is why he was 12th on the grid. If his best time in FP was outside the top twelve he'd have been in Q1 and now at the back of the grid.

The 10 fastest overall from fp1 -3 automatically go into Q2. If they don't post a time they start from the back which is P12 as top two bikes come through from Q1.

The rest in Q1 are fighting for 13th through 24th with no chance of being in the top 12 regardless of there Q1 time.

now I understand why Spies was never in the same page as Yamaha... Lorenzo with a broken collarbone got on the bike and finished the race while under a lot of pain...

It's been 5 races and Spies is still MIA from a phoney injury that no one seems to figure out...

Today, Lorenzo earned my respect just by showing up, manu would've stayed home...

On another note, glad to se VR46 back on top, I think that if he continues to improve his qualifying and race starts he should get a couple of more wins this year...

Finally, I would like to see more battles between Crutchlow and Marquez, those 2 hot-heads sure find a way ti make any race interesting...

Can't wait for Sachsenring..

Firstly, there is nothing phony about Spies' injury. Only those who do not understand the complexity of the human shoulder are mystified by it. The shoulder is the most intricate and complicated joint in the body, and is crucial for riding a motorcycle at speed. What happened with Spies is that the cartilege holding certain parts of his shoulder together came apart, and had to be repaired. The shoulder recovers very slowly, and any attempt to rush it - as Spies had done by coming back to test and then race in the early part of the season, and then again at Mugello - puts you back even further. Spies admits he underestimated the seriousness of the injury.

Collarbones can be plated and fixed, and are as strong - or even stronger - immediately after surgery than they were before being broken. Shoulders are a million times more complicated. Breaking a collarbone is like putting a splint on a broken stick, reparing a shoulder is like trying to take a pile of twigs and turn them into a tree again. Shoulder injuries end careers, in motorcycle racing, but also in baseball, football, rugby, cricket, cycling, rowing, and a million other sports.

Motorcycle racers do not suffer phony injuries. To accuse them of such is to show disrespect to them, and to the sport.

I would never suggest any rider was using a 'phoney' injury but I am still perplexed about Dani Pedrosa's extended absence following his injury at Le Mans in 2011. He was out for some months as I recall.

I know every injury and body is different but it does seem that there may well be a difference as to how 'healed' any given rider feels he wants to be before returning to compete.

...though thank you for taking the time to respond. I do not mean this disrespectfully or argumentatively but I still cannot understand why it took so long for him to return (or why he didn't lean the bike more to stop being hit but I wont start that up again!). My point after Assen is that if Jorge can do it in a day why did it take Dani months? Furthermore, how come he could ten pin bowl/ride motorcross etc... but not do his job? There may be perfectly good, genuine reasons but the fact that HRC, Repsol, Puig and Dani all avoided any specifics for weeks if not months makes me even more suspicious.

I have noted here before that I didn't think VR would get another win in Motogp and I follow other riders so it's an easy thing to say. But in those last laps, I found myself ridiculously excited, willing him to keep that gap. When MM took second I was backing him to chase VR down by the end. But it never happened.

All would seem to be right with the Motogp world again. I think I just became a VR fan overnight.

Lorenzo ? A Lionheart. Don't think anyone can truly appreciate what he did at Assen. The standing ovation his crew gave him back in that garage said it all, as an exhausted and shattered Lorenzo sat in his chair, unable to move, his eyes full of pain. There are two legends in the Factory Yamaha garage, there can be little doubt of that. That this all took place at the cathedral made it all the more special.

Get well soon, Jorge.

hi David, no mentions of Dovi's kick to Barbera(?)?
Did he end up getting some points of some sort?

Both Dovi and Barbera got 1 point, Dovi for kicking and Barbera for being himself, really.

A reward for all us fans' patience. I guess these bikes with all their magickery can produce close racing after all.

Or maybe it's less to do with the bikes and more to do with the riders, or maybe the tracks. Assen is quite different from the others.

The Honda and Yamaha riders that finished behind Lorenzo should have their rides terminated immediately. Ducati should probably just give up and focuse on Superbike racing.

I think I'll need to watch this race a few more times for everything to sink in. But besides the Yamaha and Honda factory camps, i'd like to discuss the rest, the satellite boys, Ducatis and CRTs.

Crutchlow is a class act surely, but he really needs to do something about his overtaking. It doesn't have to be a Honda in front for him to get stuck, we know that much now. I'm afraid that given his usually bad starts and underperforming first laps, he will never win a race unless he first sorts his overtaking out. Maybe it's more mental, I don't know. Like others before me, I think he should stop complaining about Yamaha support and focus on how to find that little bit extra that he lacks to start winning races.

Bradley Smith... not enough data to say anything sensible. Time will tell.

Bradl and Bautista, I have to put them in the same category. I understand they are also test mules (Nissin and Showa), but otherwise they have equipment very close to factory specs, of the best bike on the grid, arguably. Bradl especially was expected to challenge for podiums this year. He's consistently 20-30 seconds back (save for Austin), or crashing out because he can't match the frontrunners' pace. Bautista doesn't seem to be any faster than Bradl.

The Ducatis? I can't see why people (journalists, commentators) seem to think that progress is being made. Quite clearly they are standing still while the rest of the grid is moving forward, as it has been for the past several years. But the new management shouldn't be blamed for errors of the past. I would expect them to up their game next year, certainly hope so.

The point I'm trying to make is that we have 5 riders at the front, all within a few tenths, race-pace, and then a full second back to everybody else. That's quite a gap in the field, reminding me of the "4 aliens" period. Can somebody fill it? Others may have also noticed, not one CRT bike got lapped yesterday, not even the returning Ivan Silva. Good for him. Dorna should feel absolutely vindicated for the establishment of the CRTs. They are improving faster than anybody else on the grid, rendering these proddy Hondas and Yamaha engines unattractive for next year. It seems that it's really hard to get within that second from the top guys (again it's race pace I have in mind). You need both a very good bike and a very good rider and I only see 5 such combinations on the grid this year.

And finally Aleix Espargaro, please somebody give him a (non-Ducati) prototype next year. He's served his time in 2nd class equipment and deserves a promotion much more than anybody coming from Moto2 next year.

Have we had any confirmation as to whether they have even experimented with any different swingarm pivot/countershaft geometry? From what Nicky said recently it seems not, and that means they have not even worked out what shape their engine should be, much less their chassis. Heading into an "engine development freeze" period from 2014-17 (hooray, another dumb rule!) that does NOT bode well.

just to make sure, motogp.com still hasn't uploaded the post-race press conference, right ? i cant see one anywhere among the latest videos.

and it was a great day for yamaha..the race was not only an excellent one that will go down as a classic for several reasons, it was one of the inspirational ones overflowing with passion and so many story lines..99 and 46 owned the day but also great rides from cal and marc..from a lorenzo fan's pov, one must specially thank cal for relegating lorenzo's chief title rival dani to 4th.

an excellent prelude to me getting the yamaha motogp colour scheme on my yamaha in just a week from now :D

You're right, I thought I'd seen it, but it's only the moto2 one that's available

The living room was quickly become a grand stand at Assen Circuit somewhere .... screamed, jumped, didn't care, my neighbor did the same too!

Just here to highlight the words of the year in the motor race world, the day the living legend reborn and is written in the history book: "The doctor is back"

In case anyone forgot!

How much was the circuit & how much was the weekend?

Maybe it's the track layout that promotes racing. The CRT bikes were much closer here and didn't get lapped. Can Dorna ask for changes at tracks to slow down the riders & get them passing?

i think the fans worldwide are going to change his percertion of the spanish rider after what he did last saturday. Not at rossi's level of support by a country mile.
He is saying he found something before the gp of cataluña, but he is not saying what that is. May be it was a spare set of balls, that came very handy for the gp at assen.
i wouldn't bet against jorge for the championship, that's for sure.

It's his head:-)

I've had a couple of shoulder injuries - pretty serious ones. It's true that it's by far the most complex joint in the body and re-hab not easy.... however, after 8-9 months with working full time at rehab with hyberbaric chamabers etc etc - I think he should be back... by now?

But then what? Something happen to Spies last year.... it wasn't always the bikes fault.... I hope he gets back physically but more important mentally... I have seen any true passion from him in sometime...

I watched him all through his AMA career, then that amazing WSBK season, and even his earlier Motogp days, but lately it just seems like the guy has been beat down. I understand the injury and totally realize that it takes time, he is not a p^&*y or a wimp, you gotta heal. But to me he is a different rider then in Superbikes, the aggression isn't the same. It's a shame, but maybe he can got back to Superbikes and start enjoying himself again. I also remember him talking about being good friends with Stoner and saying he completely understood his decision to retire, maybe he has the same thoughts.

Watching the contrasting performances of Dani and Jorge suggested to me, again, that Dani- as undoubtedly brilliant rider though he is, lacks the final nth to be an absolute winner. Marquez I think seems as though he does. As does Cal and Vale. Beyond that I'm not sure I'd believe others always put in 100%.

I don't think Cal has a problem overtaking, where did this come from?
Don't forget that trying to get past the best riders in the world takes some doing. He would have had Marquez if he hadn't been brake tested at turn 1 I'm sure.

He said he has a problem early in the race, I think that's all he needs to sort out as far as I can see.

At first I thought he was deliberately running slightly wide to allow Jorge through, when he realised Jorge couldn't keep pace, he passed him and then Danny to get on terms with Marc. We all know the rest.

Taking nothing away from Lorenzo's tremendous performance some 36 hours after surgery, Rossi's win over the series leader Pedrosa and super-talented not-too-future super-star Marquez generated a response from the spectators I haven't witnessed in a very long time. Generally, watching the GP on televison; any background or crowd response is drowned out by the din of the engines and the annoucers commentary. The passes of first Pedrosa then Marquez by Rossi drew thw crowd into the race and on each lap there was a decernable roar when Rossi passed the grandstands. Is he capable of sustaining or in his own words "that the level of competition is greater now then when he began in the premier class." For a day at least, it was wonderful to see one of the greatest of all time prevail.

Easy to talk about on here, hard to do in reality. In my day I was a club racer on a 'national' license. Not brilliant but not crap either, there was lots of different reasons you could be behind someone who your are faster than; catching them was straight forward, overtaking not always so.

If you are one second a lap faster than the guy in front, that equates to about a tenth a corner on an average club level track, thats takes time, effort and b@lls to make a pass.

World championship tracks can have twice as many corners, so thats you down to 0.05 a corner over a lap.

These guys in the top 5 are lapping within 3 tenths of each other ; now your down to 0.0015 secs a corner average difference.

The Honda has better drive out of a corner which you need for an overtake, doing the overtake on the brakes only gets you so far. That the top 5 can over take each other at all without any aids is extremely impressive.

Amazing riders all of them including Cal (although he still needs to sorts his race starts of the line out)

Yes, you're right, easier said than done. But I really think, judging by other (Yamaha) riders, that Cal can and should improve his overtaking.

He basically has 3 weaknesses. Launching off the starting grid, the first laps and overtaking. As far as I understand the first laps are difficult due to the fuel load, something that won't change this year, due to his bike's spec. So even if he does improve his starts in the first few laps he will likely be a couple tenths slower. The 4 factory boys won't just sit behind him (I'm adding Rossi here although he was behind him in Catalonia, for example), they'll pass him if they're faster. So the only way to come up on top after this is to repass them all.

Your analysis of time difference per turn is an "average" and thus fails to account for different bikes, settings, riders. Example: Rossi overtook both Hondas (Marquez twice) at turn 4 in the Qatar GP. He was what? 2 tenths faster per lap, if at all (with Marquez as a reference). The reason he picked that turn is that he could run it deep and still cut back for turn 5 which comes immediately so the acceleration advantage is negated. I'm trying to say that the cunning rider will find a way through despite the tiny amount of time difference per turn. Cal himself admitted after Qatar that he needs to be more daring in order to overtake those pesky Hondas, but I think Hondas are not the problem, the problem is his approach (see also last year against Dovi, so many times Cal was faster, so many times he finished behind).

I agree with you. All these riders are amazing and the differences I'm talking about are minuscule, but this is where races are potentially won and lost. In Assen Cal spent 3 laps behind Lorenzo losing out 1 sec in total. His good constant laps were at 1'35''1 and behind Lorenzo he did twice 1'35''5 and a 1'35''3. That could have been 2 more laps on the rear of Marquez or at least 1 more chance at overtaking. Mind you Cal registered his fastest lap at 1'34''9 right before these three laps that I'm talking about, so there's really no escape from the truth of numbers. Now, I'm not saying I know how he can improve. If I did I probably wouldn't be writing this comment in the first place, but in comparison to the other front runners Cal seems to lack that little bit extra which is needed to overtake at will. Worst part is that, based on his style, equipment etc., he will be needing that skill in the future to win a race. I certainly hope he does.

I just hurt my arm from patting myself on the back for calling Rossi to win this one - and predicting the corner where he would make the pass for the lead.

The race illustrates something else: All the complaining about processions, etc., would still apply to what happened here. There was exactly one pass for the lead, the same five guys gapped the field, and only Cal and Marc had a real battle at all.

What was different? What made this a classic?

All of the back stories. As David points out, sport is soap opera. Not a person here was bored watching Rossi lead, lap after lap, pulling away from the field. ECUs, software, fuel limits, none of the things that I hear so much complaining about mattered one bit today.

Oh yeah: Jorge has stones of tungsten.

Did he and Marquez use the same bike? Why could Marquez overtake him?
I am Dani's fans but I think he lack of momentum a little...
but still happy with Rossi back to win...long time not see the living lengend shinging like that~~

Assen has always been a difficult track for Pedrosa, and he said he could only be fast in the first laps. They couldn't find the right set up, while Marquez, who has a different style, could do better.

I recall a certain Cal describing how the first corner is so detrimental for the Yamahas to lead the Hondas and have shot at breaking from them. I think Rossi just obliterated that theory, giving Pedrosa (and Marc) plenty of time to find a rhythm and leave, then promptly catching & storming past them. A bit vintage no?

Marquez rode with a broken finger so wasn't at his best, and Pedrosa simply didn't have the race pace of the Yamahas in any of the sessions, as his qualifying showed. The Hondas simply had a bad weekend. Watch how they go at Saschenring...

If you meant to reply to my comment or not (but you did), but making excuses for the Honda riders is irrelevant; no one's set-up is ever 100% perfect, even if they say it is. That includes Rossi yesterday at Assen.

Very glad I purchased my Yamaha cap to watch the races, Lorenzo is tough, sublimely talented, and humble. He is now my personal wish for another title, if not him then Danni, but they are all occupying space till the next batch riders raises the bar. Being Esparago on the Yamaha and then Marquez, Lorenzo and Esparago will raise the bar again - I cant wait.

More power to 99!!

It was great to see Rossi win after the 2-year Ducati humiliation... which he is vocally grateful to Yamaha and everyone involved for sticking it out with him until this point! A true champion is capable of riding around the problems the machinery is producing during a race. That being said... what the heck is going on with Dani? Is Dani scared to get injured? To not capitalize this weekend on Jlo's situation is down right embarrassing to all the Honda riders except MM93. HRC/Supo need to re-evaluate Dani/Bradl/Alvaro's contracts. Time for some new riders I think. MM93 seems to be the only Honda-rider with the killer-instinct. They can not blame their machinery (brakes/suspension) for their lack of results... being beaten by a wounded Jlo is unacceptable. HRC needs to start a fire under their riders to perform in the 2nd half of the season. Cal is talking a lot of smack lately... because he can with his streak of results. MM93's talent is an eye-opener. He was able to keep Cal behind him because of his talent, not solely because of the machinery.

Superb grit by Jorge, and credit where it's due to Vale. Of course if Jorge were fit...
But Rossis obviously improved his front end, even based on his qualifying result. What was very telling though was his comment that the competition had improved greatly since his early winning years (if only Casey was there too this year!). During the lengthy, heated debates on who was better, and who was the GOAT - Rossi vs Casey, those on Caseys side pointed out this exact point, and were usually shouted down by the 46 fans. Now the man himself has made the very same point. Case closed (I wish!).
And David, you said last year that you'd do an article on the Rossi vs Stoner debate in the off season. As far as I know you didn't, and several commenters have asked for it during the off season. Any chance of it happening? Maybe next off season? I know it would be contentious no matter what you said, but it would no doubt be fascinating like all of your articles.
Cheers, Cosmo.

As the years go by, the bikes go faster, that is a given. Now with electronics so important, the bike is even more important, as is fitness, etc. Rossi is older, and the wins won't come as easily.

And one point, no matter who you are a fan of, is that Rossi has made all these guys better. Before Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Stoner, Marquez, this current crop, 46 had a bulls-eye on his back, and every rider coming into the class knew they were going to have to be as good as him or better. Valentino Rossi raised the stakes and he was the ruler that they'd have to measure themselves by. That is one thing I never see mentioned when bigging up whoever said person is a fan of whether that be Casey Stoner or Jorge Lorenzo, or any of the rest of them. You'd think that 80 premier class wins and 106 total wins would buy you some respect but for many fans you are only as good as your last race.

Generally if you are going to compare riders you should do it at comparable ages but even then such comparisons are a little foolish. The only things that matter in this sport when they are said and done are the wins and championships next to their names. Comparing Jordan to Iverson in Jordan's last year with the Bulls, when Iverson crossed him up, was much the same. People were comparing a younger player coming into his prime against another player in the twilight of his career. Not an apples to apples comparison and look at how each is viewed now over a decade later.

This time last year(before Assen) Dani was 40 points behind Jorge, and still 20 points
(ish) behind after, even though Jorge didn't finish!. This year he's ahead of him and extended his lead at Assen, though granted not by as much as he'd like. Dani is a long way from struggling against Jorge this year.

I think there's only one track left this season where Jorge was on the top of the box last year. I'd say Dani still has a good chance.

I agree wholeheartedly that overtaking is easier said than done. The bravery, commitment, and skill involved at this level is extreme.
However, each corner is not an overtaking opportunity for fairly equally-matched machines and different riders/machines have different strengths at each type of corner. Confidence is a large element of ability to overtake - in some places riders are, relatively, so much quicker because of the various factors.
It could be said that the difference is all found on one corner - the last chicane at Assen is a classic overtaking point. The actual event is usually preceded by a build-up over a distance/number of corners that results in momentum being carried through. If a braking zone is 50m and the approach speed is about 80mph you need to make about 3/10ths to get past. This is accomplished by both pushing your own braking performance and unsettling the opponents. If you can claim the line in the approach you can make the other rider effectively over-brake and that means that not only does the pass gain you time it takes it off the opponent (block passes take this to the extreme by delaying acceleration for your opponent, further capitalising on the corner as a whole). Marquez displayed both the successful and unsuccessful overtake on Pedrosa - his first one showed how much more speed could be carried in, but he lost on the way out because his braking delay was overcome by Pedrosa being that much earlier on the throttle and his entry not being upset by Marquez' pass (which was incredibly fast). The second time MM got the balance right in his favour.
Slow corners are often favourites because the time to execute the manoeuvre is relatively long (especially off a fast approach) and lines are more easily adjusted. The fast approach to Assen's last chicane is a perfect build-up that rewards bravery/supreme skill to take the previous corners and punishes defensive riding, if the opponent creates the space to attack aggressively.
The one certain fact is that it is easier said than done and some riders may not be that outright fast but they seem to have the ability to process all these variables and create the opportunity to pass. A certain Mr Rossi is a 'poor' qualifier; not 'the fastest'; but, arguably, has some of the best braking zone racecraft known to motorcycle racers and, last weekend, an ability to capitalise on those capabilities. The championship will be all the better if he can keep that momentum and braking skill working for him.

Honestly, I think this whole fuel tank debate is ridiculous. If Crutchlows only and single problem during the early stages of the race was weight distribution due to an inconveniently shaped fuel tank, why not simply have yourself built a different one? - Even on a MotoGP machine, the fuel tank is probably one of the cheapest parts, isn't it? And that doesn't have anything to do with factory spec or not. For what Dovi and Cal spent last season to get that front brake upgrade Yamaha wouldn't give them, they could probably have bought ten custom built carbon fibre fuel tanks each. So what's the problem?

Satellite bikes are leased. There are very strict limits on what teams can and cannot do to them. It would surprise me if a team were allowed to build their own fuel tank. But also, you have to get it perfectly right, and that requires a lot of engineering and experimentation, something satellite teams don't have.

Something else to consider. It's quite possible that moving or changing the shape of the fuel tank requires many other things to be changed and moved. If you've ever seen one of these bikes up close or some good pictures with the body panels removed you can appreciate the complexity in the simplest changes. There's nary a cubic centimeter under the skins that is not occupied and all the different components and systems are located precisely because it matters to their operation, reliability, and the overall performance of the bike. On the M1, under the seat panel are a good portion of the electronics. Moving the tank further down and under the seat might need moving some of those items that could involve new wiring harness revisions, a new seat/support tail assembly, etc, etc. Often we are given the simplified explanation of "new parts" or "different setup" but the details behind those PR blurbs is much deeper.

You're certainly right. And I wasn't expecting that what they need to do is to simply install a different fuel tank. Of course a few things would have to be rearranged. Obviously, I dunno how complex the factory teams solution is exactly. But Tech 3 wouldn't have to duplicate it - what's working for Lorenzo doesn't have to work for Crutchlow, anyway. Ask the doctor. But still, the only reason I could see for the Tech 3 team not to try at least a slightly revised version of its current fuel tank would be restrictions on what they are allowed to do to the bike. - And if that's the case, I think it's honestly a bit stupid.

I mean, they're not fiddling around with the engine or the electronics or something - they're not altering the chassis or using a different suppliers suspensions or brakes. And considering that the bikes have to be 3 kilos heavier than last year anyway, a custom built tank wouldn't even have to be made of carbon fibre probably. They might even use some lightweight alloy. And it would have been possible to test a few revised versions during the last test. - I'm just speaking from my experience as an MX rider. But those bikes are a lot easier to alter because the parts are not that extremely crammed inside the chassis. And obviously, there's no electronics except for a simple ignition circuit.

I suppose it's all about restrictions. So basically, you're leasing a bike and from that point on it's "take it or leave it"? - Great! I'd take CRT over satellite any day if I was a team manager.

What happened to him? After Crutchlow passed him in the last few laps, he just seemed to dissapear without trace. Did he settle for 4th and back his pace right off? Or, did he have some issue that meant he was a second a lap slower all of a sudden? He might have been able to pinch 3rd spot from Cal when he had his incident, if he had kept him in sight.

Interestingly, a certain American based website has decided to overlook both Rossi's win and Jorge's herculean effort and posted an opinion piece centering on the problems being endured at Ducati Corse and exactly why it's all Rossi's fault.

Do they really hate the guy that much?

What is really crazy is the way these numbers come up: #46 has its first win again at race #46 counting from the last win 2010. After that Race he has 4646 WC-points....are you kidding me?What sorcery is that???

There's some magic attributed to the number 23. Rossi has exactly two of those. Maybe that? Makes as much sense as anything else.

It's his first win since rejoining Yamaha. When he left he had 46 wins with Yamaha..
The Universe is constructed by numerical patterns and frequencies.
46 is indeed an intriguing number :O)

His 47th win, meaning the first one after his 46th. Another 46 coincidence. I like that ;)

By that logic, his first win was the 46th win before his 46th, his second win was his 45th win before his 46th, his third win was his 44th win before his 46th.... You get the idea. 

I have to take my hat off to Jorge first of all. I'm still in complete awe of that performance. I still say it was a hell of a risk, fortunately it paid off. I dread to think what would've happened had he chucked it down the road. But, the fact is he didn't, and he (and Zeelenberg) have been vindicated. It's a truly stunning performance.

Then there's Valentino, of course, as a fan of the man for as long as he's been in the paddock, I'm made up that he's returned to winning ways. But, one summer does not make a summer. Even though he's achieved his goal, one win, I'd love to see more. I dare say the rest of us (and Dorna) would too!! More of the same please VR.

This rubbish about Cal "not being able to overtake" is simply that. Utter rubbish. I'd agree that some of the comments he's made have not been the most tactful. But that's Crutchlow, as we all know, he's not a man to mince his words.

Dani, hmmm, Dani....I still say the title will be his, he's gonna put in the performances he needs to. I've no doubt of that. But he's gotta have walked away from Assen feeling a little bit deflated. But it's moments like this that make champions in my opinion. And, let's not forget Dani IS a World Champion 3 times.

Marc Marquez, we all know whats coming, but his display this weekend was simply an underlining of that talent. You don't ride Assen that fast first time seeing the place on a MotoGP bike unless you're something REALLY special.

Bring on the Sachsenring.

Stoner won last year and he did it at a faster pace. Honda is missing Stoner who still is better than Pedrosa and Marquez on any given day.

Cheers to Lorenzo's performance and also to Crutchlows performance. Crutchlow just needs to improve a miniscule to be on the top of the podium. Remember, he's on a satallite bike, not a factory bike. Keep Lorenzo next year and replace the other rider with Crutchlow.

You're kidding yourself. Crutchlow to replace Rossi?

Sorry but I am seeing way to much hype over Crutchlow, he is still a crasher and completely inconsistent, I used to like him until he got an inflated ego and talked like he had some sort of a right to a factory ride.

Raw speed isn't enough to make him as good as Rossi and Spains big boys, not yet anyway.