It was an amazing start to Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo in the MotoGP’s Dutch Grand Prix at Assen as he shot from 10th to first on the opening lap but then gradually slid down due to troubles in Sector 4.
After back-to-back MotoGP wins abode the Ducati Desmosedici, Lorenzo thought he will break his jinx at Assen which has troubled him in the past. On Saturday, it looked good in qualifying at one moment until late improvements meant he bogged down to only 10th.
A similar story played on Sunday when he shot into the lead from row four to head the pack after the opening lap. He then had to defend his lead from Honda’s Marc Marquez, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and teammate Andrea Dovizioso in a crazy race.
However, Dovizioso took him on for the lead when Lorenzo started to push down the order and lose touch with the leading group. He would eventually finish seventh with the culprit being the Sector 4.
“The only problem today was sector four,” he said. “We lost a lot of tenths compared to the others, so I gained in the other sectors and lost everything in the fourth. We couldn’t solve that in the race, especially with old tyres, and finally it was impossible to keep the pace of the top guys.
“The wind made the track conditions difficult and I knew it was going to be a complicated race, but I made a very good start, one of my best with the Ducati, and I was able to gain a lot of positions and conclude the opening lap in the lead.
“The pace wasn’t very fast and I stayed in the lead for a lot of laps. Then, when Dovizioso passed me, I lost a bit of rhythm, I began to feel the gradual deterioration of the rear tyre, and several riders were able to pass me.
“The positive part of this weekend is that, even though we didn’t have the best pace, we were able to do a great race in any case and be competitive for lots of laps, although I’m not very satisfied with the final position at the flag.”
Apart from the big leap, one of the biggest moments in the race was his tangle with Rossi. The Spaniard lost some speed into the right-hander which caught Rossi by surprise and he hit Lorenzo on the back – fortunately both the riders were able to carry on.
“It was a frightening moment, a very dangerous moment and we were very lucky not to crash together,” he recalled. “The front closed at high speed, fifth gear, I entered too far on the inside and I touched the curb.
“The front closed and I almost crashed but I had to reduce a lot of speed. Valentino didn’t expect that I’d reduce it so much and he hit me from behind. As I told you we were very lucky not to crash; with all the group behind it could have been very dangerous.”
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Rossi, meanwhile, managed to overtake him later on but lost out to Dovizioso to finish fifth – the maestro though wasn’t very happy with the move. “With 4 or 5 laps to go, I tried to attack and it was good because I was in second but fighting with Dovizioso.
“He tried to overtake me at the first corner but he arrived a little bit in the way and, unfortunately, I had to go off the track and we lost out. Especially me, but we both lost a lot,” he said.
“I think it was an aggressive overtake, like a lot of aggressive overtakes during the race, but strategically it wasn’t strategically very clever because I think that we both had the potential to get on the podium. Because of that, we arrived just 4th and 5th.”