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, “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!”
2009 MotoGP Holland results:
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 42’14.611
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team + 5.368
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team + 23.113
4. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 29.114
5. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 33.605
6. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 39.347
7. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP + 39.543
8. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 39.774
9. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team + 39.823
10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 40.673
11. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 46.010
12. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team + 57.777
13. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando + 1’05.366
14. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing + 1’09.897
15. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team + 1’09.930
16. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP + 1’25.099
Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing 1 Lap
Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 16 Lap
Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 22 Lap
2009 MotoGP Championship Standings:
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 131
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 126
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 122
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 69
5. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 67
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 67
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 55
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team 54
9. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 53
10. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 51
11. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 38
12. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 31
13. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 29
14. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing 26
15. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 25
16. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando 12
17. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing 12
18. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team 8