By the looks of the free practice and qualifying sessions it was always going to be a good weekend for the Yahamas. But you can never ever underestimate the reigning world champion and current championship leader Marc Marquez on the powerful Honda RC213V machine.
The 2019 Dutch GP ended with the two Yamahas of Maverick Viñales and rookie Fabio Quartararo in first and third place respectively, split by Marquez. But the race was nothing short of sensational as the Cathedral of Speed delivered an excellent race once again.
The race started in cooler conditions than expected, which left riders with some guessing work as to which tyres would carry them through the race. Marquez, who always opts for the harder compound rear tyre due to his late hard braking style, decided to go the opposite route and start with the Michelin soft rear tyre for the demanding 26-lap race. The majority of the grid chose the hard rear, including eventual race winner Viñales.
Fabio the Flying Frenchman
Quartararo on the satellite Yamaha started from pole position, ahead of the entire grid which includes the factory Yamaha team of Viñales and Valentino Rossi. If anyone deserved to be the top rider at Assen, it would have to be the Flying Frenchman.
Team Suzuki’s Alex Rins and rookie Joan Mir had the best race start and found themselves in P1 and P2 after the first lap. The Suzuki 1-2 quickly became a Yamaha 1-2 when disaster struck for Rins as he crashed out of the lead on lap three after losing the front. He later said it was a strange crash and suspects the wind had a part to play in it.
Blowin’ in the wind
The wind was a problem on race day for other riders too including Quartararo, whose YZR-M1 was noticeably unstable on the back straight. Considering that he had arm pump surgery in June, is riding for the Yamaha “B-team” and had the ruthless Marquez on his tail for most of the race, Quartararo rode an intelligent race and showed perseverance despite all the obstacles.
He took the lead on a number of occasions but eventually lost out to Viñales, but was nonetheless happy with a deserved third place.
The Marquez threat
The name Marc Marquez has become synonymous with MotoGP and this has a lot to do with the fact that he is the current MotoGP champion and has won the premier class title on five occasions. So we can’t let a race review pass us by without looking at his performance over the weekend.
Marquez knew he was in trouble when the Yamahas outpaced him on several occasions before race day. Having won the race here last year, number 93 was looking for back-to-back wins – the last time this was achieved was in 2004/2005 by Rossi. Marquez proved why we should never underestimate him on race day. He might not have started on the front row but quickly made his way to the front. He finished the race in second place and remains at the top of the standings with 160 points, ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.
Where were the Ducatis?
Speaking of Ducati… the factory team still managed a top 10 finish with Dovizioso in P4 and Mugello winner Petrucci in P6. The latter was overtaken by Quartararo’s Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli on the last lap. Dovizioso did well to minimise the damage in the championship standings by finishing just outside the podium spots after a disastrous Q2 session on Saturday.
Lately we’ve found ourselves asking “what happened to Rossi?” one too many times. On Saturday, we asked what happened to The Doctor during the qualifying session after he failed to reach Q2 from Q1. And on Sunday, we asked the same question after the MotoGP veteran once again crashed out of the race.
There was an incident involving Rossi and LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami where both riders crashed out. Rossi later apologised to Nakagami saying the fast crash at turn eight was his fault. This is Rossi’s third successive DNF this year. Retirement, is that you calling?
On the other hand, his team-mate Maverick Viñales won the race. After the race in parc ferme, Viñales said he had absolutely no words and graciously thanked his team for a great job this weekend. Viñales was deserving of this win – he had excellent pace throughout the race and Yamaha dominated in sector four of the track, where other bikes could simply not keep up.
This Viñales performance was reminiscent of his first two races in the premier class in 2017 when he won back-to-back races in Qatar and Argentina. Can Viñales keep up this stellar performance heading to the Sachsenring this weekend? Last year in Germany the factory Yamahas dominated, finishing second and third on the podium with Marquez (obviously) claiming the win.
This anticlockwise track is one where Marquez has always ruled, claiming six wins from six poles. Number 93 enjoys this track because it runs anticlockwise and has more left corners than right – which his riding style favours – can Yamaha dethrone the King of the Ring? Lucky for us we won’t have to wait two weeks for the next race as MotoGP heads to Germany this week!