Whatever the opposition, whatever the conditions no one can hold a torch to Marc Marquez in 2014.
The 21-year old Spaniard overcame changeable weather, a pit stop and a spirited Andrea Dovizioso challenge to claim his eighth race win of 2014, maintaining his 100 percent record in the premier class this year.
Marquez made it eight from eight
Photo: Repsol Honda
With many opting to feel their way into the race which started on a wet track, Marquez would have been forgiven for tip toeing around the 2.8 mile Dutch circuit in a bid to protect his 58 point championship lead. Instead he chased Dovizioso down in the opening laps before pitting for a tyre change.
As is usually the case with Assen, the track dried soon after the initial rain shower and riders pitted for dry tyres as soon as the sixth lap, with many of the Bridgestone wets destroyed.
After the pit stops the reigning world champion remained unfazed after a huge off-track moment at De Bult the lap after his pit stop to recover a four second deficit on the Ducati man to cruise home six seconds clear.
Dani Pedrosa came home third after a duel with pole man Aleix Espargaro with Valentino Rossi finishing a frustrating fifth. Marquez’s feat was made all the more remarkable considering results in recent times at the Dutch track.
Of all the tracks on the calendar Assen is regarded as one most suited to Yamaha M1, with the Japanese marque winning seven of the last ten grand prix here. Prior to today Honda had only won twice here since 2004. Jorge Lorenzo, four times a winner at this track in all classes, could only manage 13th place, admitting he didn’t want to risk another wet-weather fall like the one which broke his collarbone twelve months ago.
Rain began falling just after the Moto2 race and with the track drying just before the race start – delayed by 20 minutes – Rossi and Pol Espargaro initially chose dry tyres. The rest of the field played it safe with wets.
Both Yamaha riders opted out of their original decision just before the start however, and Rossi pitted at the end of the warm up lap. Consequently he started from pit lane.
Marquez and Dovizioso made the initial running with Aleix Espargaro and Pedrosa some way back. After all riders changed for tyres Dovizioso led but once Marquez retook the lead his win was never in doubt.
Behind the battle for third Rossi made his way through a gaggle that included Andrea Iannone, Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow. Broc Parkes produced a spirited display to fight with the factory machines, circulating as high as sixth after the first pit stops.
While Parkes flourished in the changeable conditions team-mate Michael Laverty was left frustrated as multiple pit stops left the Northern Irishman 21st and a lap down on the leaders. Laverty pitted at the right time but was surprised that his bike wasn’t ready, forcing him to pit twice again.
Marquez’s win made him the first rider since Agostini in 1971 to win the opening eight races of the year. Speaking in parc ferme after the race he said, “During the race it was so difficult. I was nervous before the race and I didn’t have experience in these conditions. I decided to start on rain tyres and it felt good at the start. But the track dried so quick and when I put on the slicks I nearly have a high side. After that I was calm and won the race!”
Dovizioso was happy with runner up spot, his best result with the Ducati team. He said, “The tyre didn’t drop too much. Marquez was much faster and I didn’t have the chance to try and follow. I tried for two laps but in the end the second position is much more than we expected.”
Pedrosa in third said, “This one was different, and there was a little bit of chaos before the race. I chose the safe option and it’s unfortunate that I didn’t push in the beginning. I thought it would rain again so Marc and Andrea gapped me. But I’m happy to be on the podium in these conditions.”