|MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 7
Netherlands GP, Assen
Valentino Rossi and RC211V Victorious at Dutch MotoGP.
| Italian Superstar
Valentino Rossi raced his RC211V REPSOL Honda to a superbly timed victory
at the 19-lap Dutch MotoGP race, held at the fabulous Assen circuit in the
Netherlands. Rossi had sat behind surprise leader Alex Barros (West Honda
Pons) for much of the race before swooping past with two laps to go and
beating Barros by 2.2 seconds.
It was Rossi's sixth win in the seven MotoGP races of 2002, and his tenth victory in the last 11 senior World Championship races to be run. The Italian now tops the series points standings with 170 points, 68 more than teammate Tohru Ukawa.
Ukawa, racing in his 100th grand prix, was locked in a fierce race-long duel with Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha) for third place but their machines touched at the final chicane and ran onto the grass. Checa managed to keep the Yamaha upright, racing across the grass and regaining the circuit to finish third. Ukawa was not so lucky as he dropped the RC211V, and he was passed by Checa's teammate Max Biaggi before getting his machine out of the dirt to finish fifth.
Marco Melandri (MS Aprilia) raced to his third consecutive 250cc GP victory to move into an eight point championship lead over Fonsi Nieto (Telefonica MoviStar Aprilia), who could manage no better than fifth in today's race. Melandri had displaced early race leader Toni Elias, Nieto's teammate, and Randy de Puniet (Campetella Racing Aprilia) on lap two of the 18-lap race, and was never threatened from that point on as he ran out an easy five-second victor over Elias.
Roberto Rolfo (Team Fortuna Honda Gresini) rode a superb race to finish in third place, his 16th consecutive top ten finish. Rolfo had qualified in 17th place but a rocket-like start helped him to seventh place by the end of lap one. From then on he picked off his rivals one by one to finally get into third on lap 10, but too late to catch Elias.
Young Spaniard Dani Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team) scored his maiden grand prix victory with a stunning start-to-finish victory in the 17-lap race. Pedrosa was in a class of his own, well clear of the tremendous five-man battle behind him for the minor podium places.
Reigning World Champion Manuel Poggiali (Gilera), Pedrosa's teammate Joan Olive, Arnaud Vincent, Lucio Cecchinello (Safilo Oxydo Aprilia) and Steve Jenkner (UGT 3000 Aprilia) were all in with a chance of second place, but it was Poggiali who prevailed from Olive. This was Olive's first ever podium finish. Poggiali's second place ensures that he retains his 20-point series lead, but he is now being chased by Pedrosa, who passed Vincent in the standings.
Pedrosa's win was the ninth Honda 125cc victory in the last 11 races at Assen.
World Championship Grand Prix Round 7
Netherlands GP, Assen
Left : V. Rossi
Right : A. Barros
V. Rossi (Honda RC211V)