Valentino Rossi wrote another chapter in his extraordinary career in Holland today, becoming only the second rider in history to reach 100 Grand Prix wins. 13 years after his very first victory in 125cc, the Italian took the hat-trick of pole position, fastest lap and race win with a perfect display in front of a huge Assen crowd to pass the century mark. It was his 40th win since joining Yamaha in 2004, meaning that over half of his premier-class wins have come with the Japanese factory.
His team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished a strong second and had a milestone of his own to celebrate as it was the fiftieth podium of his career. Like Rossi, The Mallorcan has now finished on the podium in all but one round this season. Yamaha Tech 3 riders Colin Edwards and James Toseland made it four Yamahas in the top six after finishing fourth and sixth respectively.
The eight-time World Champion got a strong start from pole and was second at the end of the first lap, passing Casey Stoner soon after to take a lead which he never relinquished. With his M1 and Bridgestone tyres working perfectly throughout, his race pace was even better than he had shown in practice and he gradually stretched his lead from Lorenzo in the latter stages of the race to seal his historic victory. The 30-year-old Italian and his fan-club joined forces on the slow-down lap to unroll a 25-metre banner which pictured every one of his 100 wins, spanning a career which began when he was 17 years old.
Lorenzo had a poor start and lost several positions in the early melee, leaving him to fight his way back to the front in the early laps. It took him until lap five to come through to second but by then Rossi had opened up a gap of nearly 1.5 seconds. The 22-year-old looked to be closing on his team-mate a little at mid race distance but in the latter stages he began to lose a bit of confidence in the front and was happy enough to settle for second and an important 20 points.
With Stoner finishing third today the championship standings remain tight at the top – Rossi leads on 131 points, Lorenzo is second on 126 and Stoner is hard on his heels with 122. The MotoGP paddock now heads directly to California and Laguna Seca for round eight in a week’s time.
Valentino Rossi – Position: 1stTime: 42’14.611
“This is a very emotional moment and for sure I will remember this 100th victory for the rest of my life. When I reached 70, 100 seemed a long way away but here I am and it has been great, great fun getting here. It is down to so many people, like Jeremy and my guys who have been with me for ten years and all of the team who always give 100% and always give me the best bike possible. Especially however I have to thank the friends who have been with me my whole life and my father Graziano, who won here in Assen 30 years ago when I was a baby, and my mother Stefania, because they have always supported me. It’s great to reach this moment here at Assen because it’s the ‘Cathedral’ of motorcycle racing and the most historic track we go to. Today was a perfect race – I got a great start and my bike was incredible which meant that my pace was very strong. In fact I think it was better for everyone’s hearts not to have another last-lap battle like in Barcelona! I had a good advantage from Lorenzo in some parts of the track and it was a great ride for me. Now I have 100 wins and I’m only the second rider to arrive at this number, but Agostini still has 22 more and for me he is still the greatest. 100 is a great result but the atmosphere in our team is wonderful and the motivation is still as high as ever – we want to win a few more races together yet!”
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 2ndTime: +5.368
“First of all I have to say congratulations to Valentino because this is an incredible thing to achieve and this day belongs to him. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good start today and I had to take a few risks to pass people and come back to the front. Once I did I tried to go after Valentino but in some places I just wasn’t as fast as him; he was riding 36.5s every time and I didn’t really have quite enough confidence to push that hard today because the bike didn’t feel perfect. As the race went on I started to feel the front tyre ‘close’ a bit and I decided that it was safer to come home in second! Another podium is a great result; it’s my fiftieth and we continue to be very strong this season so I am happy. I am only five points from the lead and we are in a good position going to Laguna, which I am very excited about.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“100 victories speak for themselves! For all of us in this team it’s a huge honour and pleasure to work with Valentino because for sure he is one of the greatest in history, something he’s shown again today. Furthermore, working with him is always great fun and we enjoy every weekend. This is a very important piece of history for Yamaha as well because 40 of these wins have been here with us, more than with any other manufacturer and the majority of his wins in this class. When we started together in 2004 it was impossible to think of targets like this and I know that everyone involved and all of Yamaha’s employees will always remember this time. I think I speak on behalf of everyone by saying thank you to Vale for these memories and thank you for joining Yamaha!”
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“Today we were able to get a great podium, which is very important for our championship with Jorge showing once again that he is very competitive. Unfortunately we had a small problem at the start and then, while trying to recover, Jorge put a lot of pressure on the front tyre. Anyway, he rode a very clever race and was able to manage the package until the end and get an excellent second place. Now we fly to Laguna Seca, where we are confident we will be able to put in another good performance. Yamaha has the best bike on the track and this gives us strong motivation for the future.”
Double Dutch delight for Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Team
Colin Edwards and James Toseland raced to superb top six finishes at the historic Assen circuit today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo claiming fourth and sixth respectively.
American Edwards equalled his best result of 2009 with a brilliant fourth position that moved the 35-year-old to within two-points of fourth place in the overall standings.
And British rider Toseland roared back to form with an outstanding performance in one of the most intense battles witnessed in the 800cc MotoGP era to claim a thoroughly deserved top six finish.
Edwards made a good start from fifth on the grid and passed Chris Vermeulen on lap five to claim fifth and was exerting intense pressure on Andrea Dovizioso when the Italian crashed on lap 11. That left Edwards to claim fourth and maintain his 100 per cent points-scoring record in 2009.
Behind Edwards, Toseland was embroiled in an incredible seven-rider battle for most of the race that captivated a crowd of 96,152 fans.
Adapting brilliantly to a new set-up inspired by Fiat Yamaha Team Director Masahiko Nakajima, Toseland moved into sixth place on lap 11 and produced a masterclass of riding under pressure to hold off the likes of Mika Kallio, Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden.
As the incredible battle unfolded to a gripping finale, Toseland slipped back to ninth on the last lap before he took advantage of a series of mistakes to claim his first top six finish of the season.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team now moves to the American round in Laguna Seca next weekend – home race for Edwards and title sponsor Monster – brimming with confidence.
Colin Edwards – Position: 4th Time: +0’29.114
“Finally I got a decent start and the longer wheelbase bike helped me get off the line. When Dovizioso came by I was biting my teeth to stay with him and keep the pressure on. But then I saw Dovizioso crash in front of me and just before that I’d had a moment with the right side of the front. I’d done 32-laps on that tyre yesterday but coming in and out of the pits all of the time it’s hard to get an accurate assessment of what’s going to happen. I just held station after that because I could see I wasn’t catching (Casey) Stoner and I was holding Vermeulen off comfortably. My target was just to ride without making any mistakes and keep the momentum going. I rode my hardest but this year in MotoGP it is so hard just to get a podium. The field is so strong now and it’s the hardest year I’ve ever had in MotoGP. I’ve ridden nowhere near as hard as that in the past and been on the podium. But I’m close to fourth in the championship and I was only beaten by the three fastest guys in the world today, so I’m happy with the job I’m doing. I can’t wait for Laguna now and hopefully I’ll be able to go better and get a podium for Monster, Tech 3 and all the American fans.”
James Toseland – Position 6th Time: +0’39.347
“I was a bit nervous on the start because I’d no experience with a new clutch set-up we were running. The crash in the warm-up meant I didn’t try it before the race, but I did a pretty good start but still lost three or four places. I knew I’d got a pretty good race set-up so just tried to stay calm and in the first couple of laps I took advantage of that to get into the top ten. It was an incredible battle for most of the race and I knew I wasn’t much stronger than the rest and I knew if I got to the front that it wasn’t going to be a case of me pulling away. I knew once I was at the front of the bunch that it would be a case of protecting it. That’s exactly what I did but it was nearly all spoiled on the last lap. I was getting ready to pass Mika at the last corner when Elias came under me at Turn 10. That let Loris through too and I’d gone from sixth to ninth! It was so chaotic I didn’t even see Kallio crash and I thought when Elias dived under Loris at the last chic ane that they might run off. Fortunately for me they did and I took advantage of it, and leading that group for so long I think I deserved sixth. It has been great to work with Mr Nakajima and I feel quite privileged to have his help and it just shows that I’m still on Yamaha’s thoughts and they want me to get up to speed.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“That was easily the best race of the season for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and I’m delighted because everybody has put in a lot of hard work. Colin was very impressive again and again he is the best non-factory rider, which considering how tough the competition is now, that is a great achievement. I have to say massive congratulations to James. He’s not had an easy time but he was able to lead an incredible fight in a group that included some of the very best riders in this championship. It was not easy to lead that group like he did but he did an unbelievable job and he definitely deserved that top six. He is a fighter and he proved that today and it was great that we played a big part in Yamaha’s success today, with all four bikes in the top six. I’d also like to say a big thanks to Mr Nakajima from Yamaha. He made an extra special effort and given big support to James this weekend. Now we go to Colin’s home race and a huge race for Monster in very confident mood .”