(Reuters) – Australian Jack Miller celebrated a stunning first MotoGP win on Sunday after rain and slippery conditions wreaked havoc on a stopped and restarted Dutch TT at Assen.
With top drivers like Italian Valentino Rossi, who retired as the leader, Miller mastered the wet track to take the lead with eight laps to go and beat Honda’s Marc Marquez by 1.991 seconds.
British rider Scott Redding finished third on a Ducati in the 250th race of the MotoGP era.
The Spaniard Marquez extended his lead in the standings to 24 points in front of his compatriot Jorge Lorenzo, who finished tenth. Marquez has 145 points to Lorenzo’s 121 and Rossi’s 103.
Miller was the first Australian MotoGP winner since Casey Stoner on Phillip Island in 2012 and the first on a non-works motorcycle since Spaniard Toni Elias in 2006.
“I don’t know what to feel at the moment,” said an emotional Miller in a croaking voice after crossing the finish line with his front wheel held high.
“A lot of people scolded us and so on and said that this project would not work. And I hope that we showed them the wrong thing and that we can ride bikes, that I’m not an idiot, ”said the non-works Marc VDS Honda rider.
“Thank you Honda for taking this risk with me.”
The 21-year-old Australian, whose nickname “Jackass” is written on the back of his helmet, entered MotoGP last year with a reputation for aggressive riding and bold antics.
The Italian Andrea Dovizioso started from pole for Ducati, but the race was stopped after 14 laps due to torrential rain and standing water.
It was restarted after conditions eased over the last 12 laps and Dovizioso fell from second place when Rossi took command.
The hopes of the Italians to repeat last year’s win on a favorite track did not last long, Rossi slipped into the gravel one lap later.
Marquez then led a number of other drivers who fell until Miller made his move.
“Today was the race for the points,” said Marquez. “I was really calm, really focused.
“I saw Valentino putting a lot of pressure on and said ‘Okay, I can’t follow him’. When I saw that it had crashed, I saw that Miller was behind me.
“When he passed me, I just said, ‘This second place today is like a victory’. The conditions were really critical and these 20 points will be really important for the championship in the end. “
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon