YAMAHA are celebrating a hard-fought win at the TT Circuit Assen after Maverick Viñales delivered a strong race performance to beat Marc Marquez into second place.
But the team’s other rider, Valentino Rossi crashed out on lap five, taking out Takaaki Nakagami with him.
Viñales had a good start from P2, but a wobble in turn one looked to have cost him. He fell back to fourth, where he stayed at the completion of the first lap.
There was a small scrap between him and Marc Marquez early on, until the number-12 rider noticed the three front men getting away, prompting him to make his move. As he chased the race leaders, frontrunner Álex Rins crashed his Suzuki. Viñales took full advantage as he passed Joan Mir, and then the battle with Marquez and Fabio Quartararo – who finished second and third respectively – for top spot began in earnest.
The 24-year-old was in third place for a while and was having a good look behind Marquez with 14 laps to go, deciding carefully where he would make his move.
He first led the race on lap 16, but Honda’s Marquez proved difficult to shake, as you would expect from the championship leader.
With nine laps to go, the Yamaha rider ran wide going into turn one and fell back to second place. It wasn’t long before he retook the lead – in fact it was on the same lap. From there on in there was no catching Viñales as he opened up a lead.
The Spaniard kept his concentration until the very end and took the chequered flag with a 4.854s advantage.
The result means Rossi stays in fifth position in the championship standings with an 88-point gap to first. Viñales on the other hand moves up from 11th to seventh in the rankings, with a 95-point margin to the top. Yamaha remains third in the constructor standings.
Marc Marquez remains top on 160 points, followed by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizoso, who was fourth on Sunday, on 116 points. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) is third and Alex Rins (Suzuki) fourth.
Viñales said after the race: “It feels like I’m dreaming. These have been difficult times for me, because I’ve been out of the three tracks where I thought I had the most potential with the bike.
“My season has been difficult, but I’ve tried to keep the momentum from Catalunya, because I felt really good on the bike. I’m so grateful to the team, because they did a great job this weekend and prepared well for the last laps of the race.
“I was strong, even one-to-one on the brakes, I knew I could make the overtakes. It was very important to relieve some of the pressure by taking a victory.”
He added: “I think the team will be more relaxed now. Being back on the top step of the podium again feels really good and bringing Yamaha back to its winning ways is the most important to me.
“We knew we had the potential but hadn’t been able to show it. It’s always a combination between the team’s, the rider’s, and the bike’s efforts.”