2016 Assen Motul TT Results and Coverage |
Miller Wins Rain-Soaked Dutch TT
The Dutch TT at Assen has always churned out fabled races and the eighth round of the 2016 MotoGP Championship was no different. With less than savory weather hampering the best efforts of much of the paddock, the race seemed to be in anyone’s grasp.
Officially known as Motul TT Assen round, the MotoGP race kicked off in damp but amicable weather conditions, with some unlikely riders taking the lead. Columbian Yonny Hernandez of Aspar Ducati threw caution to the wind and charged through the field, eventually taking a substantial lead over Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso. Hernandez remained the fastest on the track until he crashed out in turn 1. He was able to rejoin the race in 16th.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone followed the same path, low-siding and also able to rejoin the race – thus letting him continue in the second half.
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Márquez commented that it was like “tip toeing through the tulips,” before the festivities began and, while some of the field seemed to take those statements to heart, the top five riders did not. OCTO Pramac Yakhnich teammates Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci pushed past front-runners and into fighting positioning.
Reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP struggled all weekend in the poor conditions. His body language was tense, and he quickly dropped back through the field, eventually landing in 19th place. Had this been the end of his race, it could have marked one of the worst finishes of Lorenzo’s MotoGP career.
“I was slower and slower,” Lorenzo said. “I wasn’t safe and I didn’t see anything. For not crashing, I had to slow down. I was very far, even to the next rider. I was going to enter the pits because I was 19th and I wouldn’t get any points. I was taking risks. I even thought to stop in the pits, but luckily I didn’t. I could restart the race.”
For a moment, the conditions seemed to be improving. The track surface developed a dry race line, and then rain came down in sheets. A few laps later, Race Direction pulled the riders off the track. From the perspective of riders like Petrucci, the track conditions were abysmal. “It rained heavy, heavy,” Petrucci said, “and it was quite difficult with spinning in fifth and sixth gear on the back straight. There was too much water to see the track, it was a safety decision.”
The restart order was determined by the position of the riders at the time of the red flag: Dovizioso, Petrucci, Rossi, Redding, ahead of Repsol Honda Team’s Pedrosa, Márquez, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’s Jack Miller, and the two Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl.
With the storm moving away from the track, and track officials hard at work pushing standing water away from critical zones, riders made their way back to the track. The standouts from the opening of the race shot out to the front; Dovizioso, Rossi, Marquez, Crutchlow, Redding and Pedrosa moved out into the lead pack.
It was a race of attrition. Rider after rider succumbed to the inconsistent conditions with seven riders crashing out. First it was Pedrosa crashing in turn 9, though he did remount and continue to the finish. A few turns later Crutchlow went down and out before completing a lap. Dovizioso followed shortly thereafter.
“In the second race, me and Valentino [Rossi] pushed so hard to beat each other because we were the fastest and we pushed too much,” Dovizioso said. “The reason why we crashed and the reason why too many riders crashed was the front tire—the front tire didn’t work and I believe everybody used the same tire as the first race in the second race.”
On the same lap Aleix Espargaró hit the deck on his Team Suzuki Ecstar bike, Rossi low-sided. “I did a mistake,” Rossi said. “I was too fast. I pushed too hard. It was too much. It was a stupid mistake unfortunately and I’m very sorry for all the team because today we can win.”
Lorenzo managed to finish where he started on the grid, in 10th place. “In the second race with the soft rear tire and less water on the track I was better,” Lorenzo said, “but still I was one of the slowest riders. [Maverick] Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was there and [Eugene] Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP), too. But the only thing I could do was try not to crash and finish the race in tenth place – that’s it.” Still, Lorenzo scored six points towards the championship while dropping to 24 points behind Márquez and retaining second place in the standings.
Among the doom and gloom, an unsurprising victor began emerging. Australian rider Jack Miller, who has struggled with injuries and DNFs since the opening of the 2016 MotoGP Championship season, rode a flawless race on his Honda.
After the restart, Miller pushed through the pack quickly, easily moving past leader Márquez on Lap 4. The clouds parted, the track dried and Miller only further cemented his lead. “I don’t know if it’s turned my season on its head,” Miller said, “but it has turned my weekend around and it’s great for me to get this but we all know the reality—we’re still in the learning phase and coming up through from Moto3 into MotoGP was a big step. But, this makes it clear that we do know how to ride a motorbike and I’m not an idiot.”
Photos by Luciano Bianchetto
2016 Motul TT Assen MotoGP Race Results
- Jack Miller (Honda), 22:17.447
- Marc Márquez (Honda ), 22:19.438
- Scott Redding (Ducati), 22:23.353
- Pol Espargaró (Yamaha), 22:27.259
- Andrea Iannone (Ducati), 22:35.282
- Hector Barbera (Ducati), 22:36.139
- Eugene Laverty (Ducati), 22:40.052
- Stefan Bradl (Aprilia), 22:41.050
- Maverick Viñales (Suzuki), 22:43.595
- Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), 22:45.051
- Tito Rabat (Honda), 23:39.277
- Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 24:11.816
- Bradley Smith (Yamaha), +3 Laps
2016 Motul TT Assen MotoGP Photo Gallery