Dutch MotoGP Reaction: Rossi roars back to winning form in Assen MotoGP

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Valentino Rossi stormed to his sixth victory at the Assen circuit to close the gap on MotoGP world championship rival Casey Stoner to just 21-points after an epic ride from 11th on the grid.

The 28-year-old claimed his third win of the season as he masterfully overturned a near four second deficit on Stoner with only eight laps completed to defeat his Aussie rival by 1.909s in front of over 90,000 fans.

After a disastrous wet qualifying session left him only 11th on the grid, Valentino Rossi only made up two places on the opening lap but started his surge to the front on lap four when he passed fellow Italians Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri and factory Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards.

He was fourth on lap seven when he passed Dani Pedrosa and moved into the top three with a pass on Nicky Hayden on lap eight.

Four laps later he claimed second from John Hopkins and after relentlessly shadowed Stoner he made his decisive move on lap 23 under braking for the final chicane.

His victory clawed back five precious points on Stoner at the halfway stage of the season and he said: “It’s a great result for us, very important for me and all the team because we were a little bit unlucky with the weather in Donington and also yesterday we struggled too much in the rain.

“I had to start in 11th and like I say 11th usually in the past give me some good races and this is one of my best. I know I am fast in the dry but we made some mother modification after this morning and I was faster in the longer corners.

“I didn’t know what to expect after the start. My start was not so bad but not fantastic because Nicky was in front of me from the fifth row. I see I could overtake and get to Casey and I pushed a lot.

“I was very fast in some points of the track so it was a great, great race. I had to make a great effort to catch Casey, six or seven lap fastest laps in a row I think.

“I waited to try and understand and today my setting and the Michelin tyres work very well so have some parts where I had a great feeling with the bike and I was faster than Casey. At the end I tried and was able to arrive alone.”

Assessing the championship scenario at the halfway point Valentino Rossi added: “Looking at the performance of Casey 21-points is not a small distance. We have to improve in all situations like in the dry, wet, cold and hot.

“But we worked better with Michelin this weekend so I hope that continues.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt