Assen MotoGP: Valentino Rossi celebrates 100th victory
An emotional Valentino Rossi hailed his 100th Grand Prix victory after the Italian produced a commanding performance in Assen today.
The 30-year-old never looked in danger of having to delay his century celebrations to Laguna Seca next weekend once he’d passed Casey Stoner on the second lap.
From that moment his 40th victory for Yamaha never looked in any doubt as he comfortably kept Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo at bay before the Spaniard faded badly with a front tyre grip issue in the last eight laps.
His victory makes him only the second rider in history to notch 100 Grand Prix victories and he needs just 23 more to eclipse the all-time record held by legendary Italian Giacomo Agostini.
And it was fitting that Rossi reached his landmark at the historic Assen circuit, his win coming 30 years after his father Graziano won the Dutch 250GP.
After his comfortable win, the Italian the celebrated with his fan club by unrolling a 25-metre banner that included a picture of each of his 100 wins in a career that started when he was just 17 in 1996.
The eight-times world champion, who has now won three races in 2009 to open up a five-points championship lead over Lorenzo, said: “This is a very emotional moment and for sure I will remember this 100th victory for the rest of my life.
"When I reached 70, 100 seemed a long way away but here I am and it has been great, great fun getting here.
"It is down to so many people, like Jeremy and my guys who have been with me for ten years and all of the team who always give 100% and always give me the best bike possible.
"Especially however I have to thank the friends who have been with me my whole life and my father Graziano, who won here in Assen 30 years ago when I was a baby, and my mother Stefania, because they have always supported me.
"It’s great to reach this moment here at Assen because it’s the ‘Cathedral’ of motorcycle racing and the most historic track we go to. Today was a perfect race – I got a great start and my bike was incredible, which meant that my pace was very strong.
"In fact I think it was better for everyone’s hearts not to have another last-lap battle like in Barcelona!
"I had a good advantage from Lorenzo in some parts of the track and it was a great ride for me.
"Now I have 100 wins and I’m only the second rider to arrive at this number, but Agostini still has 22 more and for me he is still the greatest.
"100 is a great result but the atmosphere in our team is wonderful and the motivation is still as high as ever – we want to win a few more races together yet!”