Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez broke away from the rest with 3 laps remaining to take his 4th win of the 2018 season at Assen in Netherlands today. The Spaniard had won from an intense race where there were contacts with the top riders, with as many as 8 riders fighting for the lead up to the midpoint before it loosen up into two separate groups. For the few laps, the world champion had to fend off the threat from future teammate Jorge Lorenzo who made a great start from the 4th row in 10th on the grid. By the start of the 2nd lap, the #99 had already passed Marquez.

Marquez was involved in a colossal scrap with Valentino Rossi, Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso for most of the race after early leader Jorge Lorenzo shot his tyre by half distance. The Repsol Honda man, who survived a massive moment on the exit of Strubben which would have seen anyone else crash, kept his powder dry and dropped into the 1’34s to pull a gap with three laps left. The scrap for the top four slots allowed Rins and Britain’s Cal Crutchlow to catch up and Rins, who put in several outstanding passes at Strubben, made his way through and took advantage of a clash between Rossi and Dovizioso at Haarbocht on the penultimate lap to nick third.

Rins then shadowed Vinales until they made it back to Hog Heige on the final lap and Rins was able to turn his GSX-RR tighter than the M1 pilot, making the move stick and defended into the Geert Timmer chicane to cross the line 0.039s ahead of his fellow Spaniard. Lorenzo stunned the whole field, racing from tenth on the grid to the lead on lap one.

The Ducati man passed Cal Crutchlow into turn one and Dovizioso followed him through and then Lorenzo went past Marquez to take the lead as Rossi also made it past Crutchlow and Dovizioso.

Marquez shadowed Lorenzo and went under him at Ramshoek but the Spaniard was back past a lap later at De Bult and Rossi also passed his nemesis at the Timmer chicane, the place where The Doctor would make double-figures passes over the 26 laps. On lap five, Lorenzo lost the front at the fastest part of the circuit, shut off and Rossi smashed straight into the back of him. Amazingly, neither rider went down and it barely interrupted the flow of the race.

Dovizioso and Marquez traded paint and places for third at turns one and three while Rossi ran wide at Strubben and Marquez went through, taking Dovizioso with him. Dovizioso then passed Marquez for second at Hog Hiede for second while Vinales began to get his shit together and made his way to 6th past Crutchlow.

With 19 laps left, Marquez was back past Dovizioso at Strubben while Rins went under Rossi at the same place for 4th. Dovizoso then came under attack from the Suzuki man one lap later but it only lasted a lap as the Italian snatched back the place at Haarbocht.

Vinales began to make a pest of himself with 17 to go, passing Rossi as he settled in to some fast laps. Rins barged his way past Marquez at Strubben and the move was under investigation by race direction as Marquez nearly fell but no action was taken. Dovizioso took advantage and also passed the HRC man and then Rins for second.

Rins was given a taste of his own medicene shortly afterwards as Marquez came back at him for third place as Lorenzo, who was a couple of tenths clear of all the action, began to struggle and team-mate Dovizioso passed him at Haarbocht with 12 to run. Marquez also went through at Ramshoek for second and it was then backwards all the way for the Spaniard save for a brief fight back on Marquez.

Rossi and Vinales were locked in their own private battle for fourth and it was the younger man who got the better for a few laps as he also passed Marquez for second into Haarbocht and then took the lead as he found a way past Dovizoso with 8 laps remaining. Marquez passed Dovizioso for second but an error from Vinales – who complained of arm pump in parc ferme – saw him wide at Hog Hiede and Marquez was through. The pair touched at De Bult two laps later, which saw them both off track, and Dovizoso and Rossi took up the leading positions.

Rossi occupied the lead as he passed his compatriot at the Timmer chicane but Dovizioso was back in front soon after as Marquez closed back in. He re-took the lead with five left to go as Vinales passed Rossi for second.. All the chopping and changing allowed Rins and Crutchlow to close back up and into podium contention. Vinales fell victim to Rossi at, you guessed it, the Timmer chicane as Marquez pulled the pin and began to clear off. Rossi then passed Dovizioso for second at, yep, the chicane but the two clashed at Haarbocht on the penultimate lap, allowed Vinales and Rins through.

Crutchlow had also passed Rossi after his incident but the LCR Honda man made a mistake at Stekkenwal allowing The Doctor to re-take 5th place which he kept to the line. Lorenzo finished in 7th with Johann Zarco 8th, Alvaro Bautista 9th and Jack Miller in 10th. Andrea Iannone struggled for the whole race and finished in 11th with the Espargaro brothers in 12th and 13th, Pol leading Aleix. Scott Redding picked up two points for 14th with Dani Pedrosa 15th, both some 16 seconds behind Marquez.

Marquez now leads Rossi by 41 points in the championship chase with Vinales 6 points further back in 3rd.

“So far this weekend, things are going better than we were hoping for. The pole has not been one of my strongest points this year, and actually this will be the first time I’ll start form the top spot, because in Austin I earned the pole but was moved back to fourth. I was very happy with the rhythm I could keep in FP3 and FP4 and now I’m even more happy for the Q2 result. We’re trying and working in a good way. At this track stability is one of the main targets to achieve and step by step we improved that a bit. Our first goal is a podium finish but honestly we now have the possibility to fight for the victory. We must remain focused and work well in tomorrow’s warm-up to try and make another little step to improve the stability and to make the final choice for the tyres,” said Marquez yesterday after securing his first official pole of the 2018 season.

Posted by Philip Chong

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