Magic Morbidelli wins dramatic Dutch dice
Franco Morbidelli celebrated his new MotoGP deal with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS in perfect style today when he triumphed at the end of pulsating and dramatic Dutch TT in Assen.
Starting from pole position for the fourth time in 2017, Morbidelli was immediately launched into the toughest and most engrossing fight of this year’s Moto2 World Championship, with the Italian locked in a close battle with Tom Lüthi, Takaaki Nakagami, Mattia Pasini, Miguel Oliveira and teammate Álex Márquez for the entire 24-lap encounter.
The top six served up close action that a capacity crowd of 105,000 fans could not take their eyes off, with numerous overtakes for the lead, before Morbidelli made a decisive last lap attack on closest title rival Lüthi.
Morbidelli then kept his cool under immense pressure in the final sector to give Lüthi no chance to retaliate, and the Italian took the chequered flag first for the fifth time in eight races. The top five were covered by 0.7s in a classic encounter and Morbidelli’s stunning late burst of speed moved him 12-points clear of Lüthi heading to the halfway stage of the season in Germany next weekend.
Márquez fully played his part in today’s gripping action when he kept his Kalex machine firmly in podium contention until the final stages of the race.
With the race building to a thrilling climax, Márquez couldn’t quite maintain his strong challenge, and rather than take unnecessary risks that could have cost him crucial World Championship points, he wisely settled for a hard earned sixth place to remain third in the standings.
Franco Morbidelli: 1st
“I gave absolutely everything in that race and that’s what makes the victory feel even more special. The battle was so intense that I was just doing all I could to stay in contention for the win in the last five laps. Once I could stay close for an attack at the end I was always confident I could take the win. I had to ride the final sector like the best in my life without making a mistake and I did that. It was perfect and nobody could try and overtake me at the final chicane. That was the toughest of my five wins by a long way and I’m pleased to show that I can still battle well and manage the fight when it is so strong. It was important to get back on the podium after the difficult last two races and it is the perfect way to end a dream day for me after confirming my MotoGP future with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.”
Álex Márquez: 6th
“Today was a very tough battle and I think the fans certainly got value for money. But I can’t be entirely happy because I was expecting more from today. We only had one day of dry practice on Friday and the conditions changed a lot again today, and I just didn’t have the right feeling to keep myself in the battle for the podium right to the end. It’s a pity but I didn’t lose a lot of points in the World Championship. I finished the race and collected some important points and I hope to be stronger and fighting for the podium again in Germany next weekend.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“That was an incredibly tense race and it was certainly a spectacular one for all the fans. It was like Moto3 at times and when the action is so close it certainly makes the taste of winning even sweeter. Franco did an incredible job because he has not been on the podium in the last two races and everybody was talking about the pressure building on him. But today he proved he can handle it and it was a fantastic final lap that he judged perfectly from a tactical point of view. He’s had a memorable day with the signing of his MotoGP deal with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, and I think his performance in the race showed why we wanted to secure his future. Álex contributed to a great spectacle today and his result was not what he wanted but it certainly wasn’t a bad day for him. He made sure he finished and I’m convinced he will back on the podium soon.”