Jack Miller won a dramatic Dutch TT to seal his first-ever MotoGP win in a rain-affected race at Assen, which saw three different riders fall from the lead, including nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.
21-year-old Miller took advantage of the chaos unfolding in front of him, as well as a red flag and a restart when severe weather hit the circuit south of the city of Groningen, to take the lead and spark wild celebrations among the Marc VDS Honda team . The Australian, who has had just one MotoGP top 10 finish in the year and a half from debut to race, also secured Marc VDS Honda’s first premier class win.
Miller was keen not to overwhelm himself, understanding the conditions gave him a chance for a top-podium finish, but his reaction after crossing the finish line still showed the raw emotion a first win should evoke .
“It was nice just staying on the bike,” Miller said afterwards.
“It was a win in rainy weather but it’s great to have it in the bag and let people know I can ride a bike.”
Miller (C) celebrates with Marquez (L) and Scott Redding (R) on the podium
Britain’s Scott Redding got the best start from the front row of what has been billed as a wet race after a brilliant performance in Saturday’s qualifying to lead into the first corner, but the Pramac Ducati rider’s challenge suffered an early setback , when he hit the curb wide and slipped back to sixth place.
It allowed Rossi to hit the front, but just one lap later the nine-time World Champion would have been shocked to see Yonny Hernandez’s Aspar Ducati slide through the long double right-handers three and four under the Yamaha.
Not only did Hernandez hit the front, he immediately passed Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso’s factory Ducati to lead by over three seconds, but his fairytale tale would come to an unfortunate end. When Dovizioso passed Rossi for second on the start-finish straight, he suddenly found himself in the lead of the race. Hernandez had lost the lead going into turn one and despite dragging himself out of the gravel trap to continue, he was outside the top 20 with the Colombian holding his head in desperation at having missed the opportunity before qualifying for a second rushed time to finish his afternoon.
The Colombian fell as the rain returned and the track at Assen soon resembled a lake with 13 laps to go. All of Dovizioso’s hopes of disappearing into the distance were unfulfilled as the attacking Ducatis of Danilo Petrucci and Redding quickly passed Rossi and caught up with the leading Italian.
With 12 laps to go, Petrucci hit the lead when he dove under Dovizioso at the end of the backstretch, but by the time he made it to the finish line to start his next lap, the red flags were out to stop the race as the rain was shut down become strong to ensure riders could compete safely.
This meant the race was halted at the end of lap 14 and Dovizioso restarted from pole ahead of Petrucci, Rossi and Redding. The 12-lap race would resume about half an hour later, and in a repeat of Redding’s start, Marc Marquez fired his way inside the field to take the lead, only to run onto the wet curb and fall back, allowing Dovizioso retained the lead advantage at the front over Rossi, while Petrucci’s challenge was unfortunately ended by a reliability failure on his Pramac Ducati.
Valentino Rossi fell out of the race while in the lead
But the drama was only just beginning. Having controlled the race since taking the lead from Hernandez, Dovizioso threw his Ducati down the road at high speed on the fast sweeping section towards the final complex, allowing Rossi to take the lead by a healthy margin over Marquez to go. The Italian, winner of Assen last year and winner last time out in Barcelona, was the pre-race favorite given the changing conditions, but even Rossi – who is starting in his 250th top-class Grand Prix – is not untouchable.
Results of the MotoGP Dutch TT
1. Jack Miller (Australia) Honda
2. Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda
3. Scott Redding (Great Britain) Ducati
4th Pole Espargaro (Spain) Yamaha
5. Andrea Iannone (Italy) Ducati
6. Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati
7. Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Ducati
8. Stefan Bradl (Germany) Aprilia
9. Maverick Vinales (Spain) Suzuki
10.Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha
11. Tito Rabat (Spain) Honda
12. Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda
13. Bradley Smith (Great Britain) Yamaha
– Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Aprilia
– Michele Pirro (Italy) Ducati
As Rossi exited Turn 11 to lean forward for the right-hand Turn 12, the front of his Yamaha caught under him and he slid into the gravel trap, suffering enough damage to end his race early.
The fall put Marquez in an unlikely lead, but an even bigger surprise was around the corner – literally. Just a few corners later, Australian Miller’s Marc VDS Honda passed the two-time World Champion to take the lead, and with his best result to date being a tenth place at Barcelona, the 21-year-old was staring straight in the face at his first premier-class win.
The former Moto3 runner-up made it through the final seven laps without drama, pulling away from Marquez to take the checkered flag across the line with a full-scale wheelie, with Marquez and Redding completing the podium – the Brit scoring after his finish best MotoGP result so far third at Misano last season.
Jack Miller keeps an eye out for Marc Marquez after sealing his maiden MotoGP win
After struggling to find any pace in wet conditions at a track that holds some haunting memories for him, Jorge Lorenzo was only able to come home in 10th after falling down in 19th at the time of the red flag, but he at least made up points on Rossi, who lost another 20 points to leaders Marquez.
“This race was all about scoring points,” said the Spaniard. “Second felt like a win in these difficult conditions – 20 points will be important in the championship.”