Valentino Rossi has broken a drought of over a year to win a classic Dutch TT as Maverick Viñales crashed out of the championship lead.
Rossi denied Danilo Petrucci, who took the lead during the final five laps, a first ever MotoGP win by just 0.063s, while Marc Marquez got onto the final step of the podium as third to fifth was separated by only 0.126s.
Cal Crutchlow finished fourth and Andrea Dovizioso fifth.
Marquez made a good start but was outbraked by pole-sitter Johann Zarco, on soft compound tyres, into the first corner, and a top four of the Frenchman, the Spaniard, and the Italians Rossi and Petrucci ran in close company for several laps.
Rossi waited until Lap 11 to slip his #46 Movistar Yamaha past the #93 Repsol Honda at Turn 1, then repeated the move on the race leader a lap later.
Zarco attempted to fight back at Turn 4, jamming his #5 Tech 3 Yamaha inside of Rossi and making significant contact.
Both stayed upright, but Zarco lost second position to Marquez and barely held out Petrucci for the time being.
The #9 Pramac Ducati rider soon deposed Zarco anyway, as the rookie began to fall away from the top three, then got past Marquez to take over second position on Lap 16 of 26.
Meanwhile, Andrea Iannone had been on a major charge from 16th on the grid, and Viñales was gradually making his way forward after qualifying 11th.
The former ran as high as sixth on his Suzuki Ecstar before he began to fade around Lap 9, while Viñales looked to have prevailed in a battle for fifth after dicing with Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) for several laps.
However, Viñales lost the front end of his Movistar Yamaha through the Timmer Chicane on Lap 12, and with it the championship lead as he crashed out of the race.
New live championship leader Dovizioso was then on the ascendancy, running down Zarco and then Marquez to move into third as rain began to fall on Lap 19.
Rossi had skipped out to a 1.2s lead but fell back into the clutches of Petrucci as ‘The Doctor’ pioneered the uncertain conditions, then Dovizioso made it a three-way battle for the lead when he got by Petrucci on Lap 20.
Petrucci regained second on Lap 22 and Rossi then came under huge pressure from #9, #04, and #93.
While the latter two couldn’t keep up the pace, Petrucci blasted past #46 at the back-end of Lap 22.
Rossi took the lead back into the Timmer Chicane on Lap 23 and kept it for good, but only just, as Petrucci looked to have been held up by Alex Rins as the leaders lapped the Suzuki on the final lap.
With 0.4s in hand, Rossi needed almost all of them as he barely crossed the line ahead of his compatriot for a first win since the 2016 Catalan Grand Prix, 19 races (one season plus one race) ago.
“I’m so happy for me and my team because I’m back on the first place after one year, more or less, and it was a great race,” said Rossi.
“I’m so happy, great, the best way.”
The final podium position was fought for in an even greater battle as a fast-finishing Crutchlow (LCR Honda) caught Marquez and Dovizioso.
Each rider led once at the end of the final three laps, Marquez and Crutchlow twice swapping third position in the final lap, as the Spaniard edged the Brit by 0.042s.
All but unnoticed was Jack Miller’s patient rise to sixth on his Marc VDS Honda, his best result of the season to date.
The Queenslander started 13th and sat 11th as late as 10 laps from home before picking off Scott Redding (Pramac Ducati), Dani Pedrosa, and Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia), while another two positions fell in his lap through crashes and pit stops.
Karel Abraham (Aspar Ducati) equalled his personal-best MotoGP finish in seventh, Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati) finished eighth, Iannone was ultimately ninth after fluctuating between sixth and 13th during the middle of the race, and Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top 10.
Pedrosa had no pace as he finished 13th on his Repsol Honda.
Zarco was next, having gambled on the intermittent rain getting heavier when he pitted for a bike change at the end of Lap 19 while running fifth, then having to serve a ride-through for pit lane speeding.
Jorge Lorenzo was the last of the points finishers, one lap down on his factory Ducati, as he too opted for a bike change having languished in 14th at the time.
Dovizioso’s two-race winning streak may have come to an end but the Italian now leads Viñales by four championship points, with those two, Rossi, and Marquez covered by only 11 points.
Germany’s Sachsenring will host Round 9 next weekend, June 30-July 2.
Race results: Dutch TT
|1||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||41’41.149|
|2||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||OCTO Pramac Racing||Ducati||+0.063|
|3||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+5.201|
|4||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda||Honda||+5.243|
|5||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+5.327|
|6||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+23.390|
|7||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||Ducati||+36.982|
|8||76||Loris BAZ||FRA||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+37.058|
|9||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+37.166|
|10||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+1’01.929|
|11||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+1’09.384|
|12||53||Tito RABAT||SPA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+1’10.121|
|13||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+1’10.344|
|14||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+1’35.655|
|15||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Ducati Team||Ducati||1 Lap|
|16||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||1 Lap|
|17||42||Alex RINS||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1 Lap|
|DNF||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||OCTO Pramac Racing||Ducati||2 Laps|
|DNF||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||Ducati||9 Laps|
|DNF||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||13 Laps|
|DNF||25||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||15 Laps|
|DNF||94||Jonas FOLGER||GER||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||17 Laps|
|DNF||22||Sam LOWES||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||18 Laps|
Championship points: After Round 8