The 86th running of the Dutch TT Assen featured so many zany antics that a simple line listing would exceed the space available for this story. Australian Jack Miller’s first premier class win aboard the Marc VDS Honda sits at the top of this list, even though it took him two tries, as the first race was red-flagged after 14 laps. Valentino Rossi recorded his third DNF of the season, his once-high hopes for 2016 in tatters. And Marc Marquez, in deep yogurt early in the first race, leaves Assen with some breathing room between himself and the Yamahas in the 2016 world championship chase.

It’s Miller time!

Saturday’s qualifying sessions were adventures on a track that was wet but drying quickly. Pol Espargaro whipped his Tech3 Yamaha into Q2 with a scintillating last lap, joined by Yonny Hernandez, one of the several Ducatis doing especially well. One rider doing especially not well was Dani Pedrosa, who suffered the ignominy of plodding through Q1, never once threatening to graduate to Q2.

Q2 itself was equally dramatic, as Marquez crashed early, stole some surprised attendant’s scooter to hustle back to the pits, waited for his crew to convert his second bike from dry to wet settings – what was it doing with dry settings anyway? – ultimately putting his RC213V at the top of the second row. The session ended with Andrea Dovizioso, Rossi and Scott Redding daisychaining to the flag for an atypical first row. Jorge Lorenzo looked tentative, having barely avoided Q1, and started the race in 10th place. Four Ducatis in the first four rows would have been five if not for Iannone’s brainfart at Catalunya, which penalized him to the back of the grid.

Rain was a wildcard all weekend, playing havoc with qualifying and on race day.

Recapping – Lorenzo started 10th, Pedrosa 16th and Iannone 21st. Conditions looked ripe for some higher-than-usual finishes on Sunday for several non-Aliens. Such would, indeed, be the case.

Dovizioso Wins Race #1 to No Avail

Has any rider had a worse string of awful luck in a single season than Andrea Dovizioso?

Turns out the voices in my head last week telling me factory Ducati #1 Andrea Dovizioso could win the Dutch TT were right. Sort of. The rain which had been around all weekend went biblical during the race, causing it to be red-flagged four laps short of race distance. With Dovi leading Danilo Petrucci, Rossi and Redding, three Ducatis in the top four proved beyond any doubt that the improvements in the Desmosedici’s performance on dry tracks has not come at the expense of its historical stability in the wet.

That there were relatively few crashers in the first race – Avintia Ducati plodder Hernandez, who led most of the way in a true shocker, eventually crashed out of the lead and, for good measure, crashed again on his #2 bike. Iannone, who had sliced through the field from 21st to 5th ran out of luck on Lap 14 but was able to rejoin the race in time to qualify for the second race. The rain, buckets of it, cooled both the air and the track, and the paucity of crashers in the first race would be over-corrected in the second.

If he hadn’t crashed out while leading, it could have been Yonny Hernandez and not Jack Miller that was the surprise winner.

Race #2 – Weirder than Race #1

The first two rows of the second 12 lap sprint were filled, in order, by Dovizioso, Petrucci, Rossi, Redding, Marquez and Pedrosa, the latter three having been charging toward the lead group in race #1 when the red flags came out. This, then, was the second time in 90 minutes that there would be no Spanish riders on the front row, the last time being Mugello in 2011. Interesting to note that joining Michele Pirro on the back row was Jorge Lorenzo, who had been mired in 20th position when the first race ended. I have sent an official request to the Movistar Yamaha team to cease issuing press releases advising us that Lorenzo has no major concerns about racing in the wet.

It was a frustrating weekend for Jorge Lorenzo who looked far from being the reigning World Champion.

Race #2 started much the same as race #1 with Dovizioso and Rossi battling up front. Marquez, nowhere to be seen the first time out, settled into third, being tailed by, um, Jack Miller. The 21 year-old back marker whose 10th place finish in Barcelona marked the high water mark of his MotoGP career to date was somehow sitting in fourth place looking, well, rather comfortable, if totally out of place. With cold air, a cold track and cold tires, the crashing began on Lap 1, with both Pedrosa and Crashlow leaving the asphalt, Pedrosa rejoining the festivities miles out of contention. Rossi went through on Dovizioso and appeared ready to repeat his win of last year.

On Lap 2, Octo Pramac hard luck guy Petrucci, who had ridden the wheels off his Ducati in race #1, leading when it was called during Lap 15, retired with a mechanical issue, the picture of desolation. Shortly thereafter Dovizioso quieted the voices in my head with a high speed off from second place, leaving Rossi alone in front leading Marquez by roughly two seconds with Pol Espargaro seizing third place on the Tech 3 Yamaha. It was on Lap 3 when, shortly after Brit Bradley Smith laid down his own Tech 3 Yamaha that Rossi, appearing to have hit a puddle, lowsided at Turn 10 and, unable to restart his M1, laid his head on the saddle in complete, utter frustration.

Marshalls console a disappointed Valentino Rossi after the Doctor crashed out while leading the restarted race.

Suddenly, it was Marquez leading the Dutch TT, with this Miller guy snapping at his heels like he hadn’t skipped through Moto2 while Marquez was busy winning a couple of premier class championships. On Lap 4, Aleix Espargaro crashed his Suzuki out of the race and, unaccountably, Miller went through on Marquez into the lead. My notes at this juncture read “JM will NEVER finish this race.” Wrong, as wrong as wrong ever gets.

At the End of the Day

Jack Miller joins a list of Australian premier-class Grand Prix winners which includes names such as Casey Stoner, Chris Vermeulen, Troy Bayliss, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner and Gary McCoy.

History will record that Jack Miller kept his bike upright and roared to his first premier class podium and win in wet conditions in the 250th MotoGP race of the four-stroke era. He became the first rider not named Stoner, Lorenzo, Marquez, Rossi or Pedrosa to win a MotoGP race since Ben Spies pulled off a similar miracle at Assen back in 2011. He became the first satellite rider to stand on the top step of the podium since Toni Elias at Estoril in 2006. For the first time since Misano last year two satellite riders stood on the podium, Redding for the second time in his MotoGP career. Only 13 riders finished the race, with crashers Pedrosa and Smith several laps down but still in the points. Jorge Lorenzo improved greatly on his result from the first race, crossing the line 10th and capturing 6 points, probably shaking like a leaf.

The Big Picture

Marc Marquez had a great weekend, finishing second but more importantly increasing his championship lead over Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

For Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa and the Bruise Brothers of the Movistar Yamaha team, the weekend was a debacle. For Ducati Corse, placing four bikes in the top seven, it was a triumph; Gigi Dall’Igna can only hope for a bevy of wet races during the second half of the season. Marquez commented several times after the race that his second place finish today felt like a win, as it powered his lead over Lorenzo from 10 to 24 points and pushed Rossi from 22 points back to a daunting 42. He also refused to respond to a disrespectful crack from Miller during the post-race presser and now is exhibiting the maturity he has needed in the past to go with his ridiculous talents. It says here he will win the 2016 championship.

Turning our gaze to Dresden, Germany and the tiny, cramped, Sachsenring, we are stunned by the events which unfolded today during the first Dutch TT ever run on a Sunday. The crowd of 105,000 surely got its money’s worth – two races for the price of one, and perhaps the only win of Miller’s premier class career, as I expect him to return to Tranche Four in the weeks to come.

Though I will not deny Miller his One Shining Moment, I’m not sold on his talent nor his attitude. Perhaps if he reads enough of this stuff he will take a look in the mirror, realize that he is the source of many of his own problems, and think twice before taunting Marc Marquez in a post-race press conference, should he ever be invited to one again. Trailing the double world champion by 112 points, the only term he should use to address Marquez in 2016 is “sir. ”

Don’t poke the bear, Jack.
2016 MotoGP Assen Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Jack Miller Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
2 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda +1.991
3 Scott Redding Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati +5.906
4 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech3 +9.812
5 Andrea Iannone Ducati +17.835
6 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing +18.692
7 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati +22.605
8 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini +23.603
9 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Ecstar +26.148
10 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha +27.604
11 Tito Rabat Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +1:21.830
12 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +1:54.369
13 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 +3 Laps
Not Classified
Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini 1 Lap
Michele Pirro Avintia Ducati 7 Laps
Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha 10 Laps
Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Ecstar 10 Laps
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Corse 11 Laps
Danilo Petrucci Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati 11 Laps
Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 0 Laps
Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 0 Laps
2016 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 8 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Marc Marquez Honda 145
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 121
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 103
4 Dani Pedrosa Honda 86
5 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 79
6 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 72
7 Hector Barbera Ducati 58
8 Andrea Iannone Ducati 52
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 49
10 Eugene Laverty Ducati 41
  • spiff

    Crazy race day. When Miller is 70 years old he can remember he had to pass Marquez for the win. That said Marquez was preoccupied with doing math in his head.

    Also, DAMN IT ROSSI! Now you join the likes everyone else who threw caution to the wind today. Nothing really to lose. Go out chase stats, and hope Marquez opens the door back up for you. Though if he does Lorenzo will still be there. Did I mention Damn it?

    • William Marvin Parker

      Rossi barely was leaning his bike when it tucked. Conditions were just luck of the draw today.

      • spiff

        They said he hit a puddle. I assume he hydroplaned.

        • Ozzy Mick

          Who put the puddle there?!?

          • spiff

            Right. F#@kin jerk.

    • john burns

      after all we’ve been through, i really just wanted to slap Rossi. What were you thinking man?!

      • mugwump

        Just for giggles go look at the point spread of his championships. He makes some poor decisions when the points are close. Typical championships are in excess of 100 points, his closest, ironically 46 points.

  • Starmag

    That was a wild one. I prefer to watch sunny races, but not when they are boring, which they can be much of the time. Maybe Dorna can arrange for cloud seeding at future races. The rain sure mixed this one up. Good to see a couple of new faces on the podium.

    As for Miller, His nickname is Jackass for a reason. I think Bruce has the measure of the “man”, now and for the future. His tears in Parc ferme seem to show that even he doesn’t believe he belongs there.

    • Old MOron

      “I hope we’ve showed them wrong, that we can ride a bike, I’m not an idiot.”
      Poor guy. Sounds like he’s really had a tough go.

      But he sure earned that victory! I enjoyed watching it, and I’m happy for him.

      • Starmag

        I agree he definitely earned it. Not so sure about his “we can ride a bike” quote though. Multiple personalities?

        • Ozzy Mick

          Stoner started the “we” thing, deflecting focus on just him, as compared with #46.

      • William Marvin Parker

        Not only will Miller win more races down the line, he’s a future contender IMO..

    • William Marvin Parker

      No, it just means the writer found another rider he doesn’t really care four.

      • Bruce Allen

        Care for. Just sayin’.

        • Ian Parkes

          Perhaps William noticed Miller’s split personality split again, making four of him you don’t care for.

          • William Marvin Parker

            Ha ha.

          • Bruce Allen

            😉

        • William Marvin Parker

          I know. Auto correct is the bane of my existence.

          • Bruce Allen

            lol

    • BDan75

      Geez, cut the guy some slack. When it’s been 10 years since a satellite bike won a race–and only Stoner, Lorenzo, Rossi, Pedrosa, and Marquez have won races in the last I-don’t-know-how-long–I guarantee you there ain’t many riders who think they “belong there,” however much talent they may have.

      • Starmag

        I didn’t notice any tears from Vinales when he recently made his first MotoGP podium. I’m pretty sure he expects to be back. Jackass, (his self- appointed nickname), was too overcome to finish his first Parc ferme interview. There’s a reason Miller was 750 to 1.

        • BDan75

          Yeah, and Vinales has a factory Yamaha ride next year. Anyway, I seriously doubt he was emotional because he knew it was his first and only time on the podium.

          • Starmag

            “…As Vince Lombardi said about the end zone, ‘Act like you’ve been there before.’…”

  • JMDonald

    I could never have predicted these results in a million years. On to Dresden

  • Old MOron

    Wow! What a race(s). I can’t believe Rossi threw it away in the second one. He sure tried hard to get his bike going again. I was thrilled when it looked Hernandez might win. Then I was thrilled when it looked like Petrux would do it. In the end, how cool for Jack Miller. He earned it.

    Jorge was a lucky boy today. He came away with six points that nobody expected him to have. Well, that’s the way things work. You have to have some luck, too.

    Hey Brucey, I’ve watched the post-race presser. What do you mean about Miller taunting Marquez? “If I’d been passed by myself, I would’ve thought, ‘Okay, that dickhead is going to crash in the next two minutes.'” I thought Miller was very down to earth and entertaining.

    • Ozzy Mick

      Just saw your comment, Old Mo. Yeah Brucey, he was just calling himself a dickhead for passing himself. Yeah, sure!

  • Old MOron

    One more thing: where is Ozzy Mick?!
    C’mon mate, have a celebration.
    Okay, I guess that’s what you’re doing, rather than posting on this MOronic forum.

    • Ozzy Mick

      Heheh…over here, mate! Good on you fella! I’ve been distracted lately and fell off my bike (oh, all right, my chair) when I heard the news. A win’s a win, I guess, but I’m sorry Mr Allen, if he caused offence to you and Mr Marquez. What was the smartass comment?
      I hope he hasn’t followed in the footsteps of our tennis spoilt brats who only bring disrepute to our otherwise polite Aussie manners.
      I’m sure you’re aware that he’s not the first Aussie rider to show skills in handling the wet – Vermeulen, Ant West, and perhaps Stoner, come to mind. I think that’s from the Aussies cutting their teeth in dirt a la Mr Roberts. Likewise Nicky Hayden won his first superbike race in the wet.
      How would Ducati be next year racing in the wet with Lorenzo on board?

      • Bruce Allen

        Marquez was speaking about the race and made a reference to a wet race at Silverstone in 2011, where he crashed out. Miller interrupted him to tell him he was lucky today’s race wasn’t Silverstone, suggesting he would have put #93 in the gravel had he tried to pass him today. The photo Dennis posted captures Marquez’ initial reaction, but he did not respond. As an American with no dog in this fight, I am happy for my Aussie friends who have a winner to celebrate, albeit an impudent one. If Miller goes on to become an Alien and regular winner in MotoGP I will reconsider my position. Until then he’s kind of a punk.

        • BDan75

          DIdn’t see the exchange, but it sounds to me like he was cracking a joke about his own screw-up last year, not aiming any kind of barb at MM. Miller also said that if he’d been watching himself, he’d have thought (I paraphrase), “That D-H is going to crash.”

          • Ozzy Mick

            D-H…??? After much pondering I thought it was a typo and you meant Harley-Davidson. You didn’t did you? Us Ozzies are pretty naive and innocent, like Miller.

          • Old MOron

            Actually, JackAss came across as a sweet, decent fellow. I really enjoyed the post-race presser.

            As for D-H, try to keep up, mate. https://youtu.be/kbe_uT1v-vk?t=1m17s

          • Ozzy Mick

            Couldn’t open your your attachment :( but I think I got it! In Oz, we don’t hyphenate D-H, nor capitalise it.

          • Old MOron

            Hmm, it’s supposed to open automatically in this discus thread.
            Well try this: copy this text into your address bar, remove the spaces before the y and the b, then hit enter.
            https:// youtu. be/kbe_uT1v-vk
            The dh bit starts at about 1 min 15 sec.

          • Ozzy Mick

            Sorry mate, am holidaying in China. No youtube here. Maybe when I’m back in Oz.
            Btw, you did mention the possibility of coming over in October – I had not acknowledged your comment, but if you think there’s a chance, let me know as far ahead as possible.

          • Old MOron

            Cheers, Mick. I regret that I’ll not make it to the Land Down Under this year. But I may take a holiday closer to home. Even your countrymen agree than Mexico has better weather.

            https://youtu.be/ePG6zUYvUZg

        • Old MOron

          Huh? I thought they were both talking about last year’s race at Silverstone. Marc crashed out on his own. When Miller interjected “You should consider yourself lucky (this year),” I think he was referring to the fact that he also crashed out at Silverston last year – taking Cal with him! So he was really poking fun at himself.

          • Ozzy Mick

            That’s a version of Miller that I’d prefer to see, obviously – hope you’re right

  • john phyyt

    “Crashlow” Come on Bruce. Seriously funny stuff. If what these guys do wasn’t so intrinsically dangerous, I would laugh even more. So another Australian can wave their flag. He may be down in the tranches but he F*****ng WON !!! … Why can’t there be at least one rider from the USA.?

  • Shlomi

    Its quite amazing to see the world champion simply can not ride in raining conditions. I don’t know Lorenzo personally, but I don’t think he ever rode a motorcycle outside of the the track, for sure not during raining day. He should try to be nicer to Rossi, so he might be invited to the Ranch (damn he can build his own dirt track to practice). I think it should be mandatory to have at least few wet races every season to truly know who is the best/ fastest motorcycle rider.

  • TroySiahaan

    My notes:

    – Congrats to Jack. Savor the moment because, like you say Bruce, it ain’t happening in dry conditions unless some serious changes occur. However, can’t deny that, on this day, Jack was in the right place at the right time and rode as well as he needed to to win the race.

    – The Lorenzo/Assen/Rain curse struck again… and somehow, by adopting the “Just keep this thing upright” approach, he scored a Top 10 finish. Wow.

    – Poor Rossi. I feel like he’s lately adopted the Mat Mladin approach of “Screw points, I want to win races. The championship will take care of itself that way.”

    – Holy Ducati brigade, Batman! (at least in Race 1)

    – Moto2 was at least a little entertaining this time. I think that has more to do with Assen being a great track that encourages good racing. I won’t spoil it, but I’m happy with the winner.

    – Without a doubt, Moto3 was the best race of the weekend. Again. By far. Also happy with the winner of this race. On to Germany!

  • Vrooom

    Nice write up Bruce, Crashlow, my new favorite name for him. The question is will Marquez hang back in 10th to block Miller the rest of the season? Probably not as long as Lorenzo isn’t threatened. Yeah, I’m still bitter. Rossi normally excels in the rain, that lowside had to be hard on him.