Valentino Rossi ends drought by winning Dutch MotoGP
Netherlands: Italian riding legend Valentino Rossi ended a winless run of nearly three years when he won the Dutch MotoGP at Assen on Saturday.
The 34-year-old - who had not won since the Malaysian MotoGP in October 2010 - came home clear on his Yamaha ahead of Honda`s Marco Marquez while Briton Cal Crutchlow, who had been on pole, was third on a Yamaha works bike.
"I am so happy, but I still can`t believe it," said Rossi, whose first win in any Grand Prix was in the 125cc category in 1996 in the Czech Republic.
"I will have to look at the images again... This is probably the most moving victory of my career. What a tremendous feeling it is to win again! I often asked myself: "Will I ever win another Grand Prix?". I spent two difficult seasons with Ducati, which were very frustrating (2011 and 2012). However, I never gave up hope."
Rossi`s team-mate, defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo, was also a winner on Saturday as his decision to ride despite undergoing early Friday an operation on a broken collarbone paid off as he finished fifth.
The 26-year-old lost only minimal ground in the world title race as series leader Dani Pedrosa, who had never won this race, finished just a place ahead of him.
Pedrosa extended his lead by just two points to nine over Lorenzo, while Rossi is fifth, 51 points adrift of the leader after posting his 80th win in the category and 106th in all disciplines leaving him 16 short of all-time overall win leader compatriot Giacomo Agostini.
"For me he is the hero of the day," said Rossi.
"When he told me he was going to ride, I thought there was no way he could.
"Two days after a terrible accident and such an operation is amazing."
Marquez too could slap himself on the back after riding despite also being hindered by a broken bone.
"I am, happy with the result given that I have a fractured small finger on my right hand and a broken big toe," he said.
Pedrosa swooped to take the lead on the first corner in front of Marquez and Stefan Bradl, while Crutchlow had a terrible start and dropped to fifth.
"Once gain I got off to a slow start but once Jorge passed me then I really got angry with myself," said 27-year-old Crutchlow.
"I said to myself this guy has a broken collarbone and he has passed you. I managed to right that by passing him. Phew!!"
Lorenzo had moved from 12th to seventh by the end of the first of 26 laps, while Rossi was in third passing Bradl to sit behind the Honda duo of Pedrosa and Marquez.
Bradl was in freefall, being passed by Crutchlow and then Lorenzo, who had soared to fifth place after just two laps and performed a superb inside passing manoeuvre on Crutchlow to go fourth with 23 laps to go.
Rossi`s devoted fans` roars reached fever pitch as the rider nicknamed `the doctor` passed Pedrosa to lead a race for the first time this season.
Lorenzo`s remorseless charge appeared to lose some of its momentum with 14 laps remaining as he dropped off the back of Marquez and Crutchlow eventually passed him on the penultimate chicane into the finishing straight with just over 11 laps remaining.
Marquez started buzzing all over his team-mate Pedrosa, and the 20-year-old passed him for good with eight laps to go and set off after Rossi, who had a lead of over a second.
Pedrosa`s fortunes suffered another blow as Crutchlow passed him on the same chicane where he had overtaken Lorenzo with just over five laps to go.
Marquez` charge had faded with respect to catching Rossi and instead he had to keep a wary eye out on Crutchlow, who was pressuring him.
It left Rossi to take the chequered flag all alone and he was able to lift both his hands off the handlebars and punch the air with delight.