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For the first time in its history, the TT Circuit Assen hosted the MotoGP™ World Championship race on a Sunday, and it proved to be a dramatic day. The 250th MotoGP™ race began on a wet track, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) making a cautious start to the race as he knew a mistake could be disastrous for his championship challenge. Once he settled in and the track began to dry, he picked up the pace and was battling with his teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) for the top five. Then the rain returned with torrential force, forcing Race Direction to pull out the red flag.
For the 12-lap restart Marquez lined up in fourth, his position decided based on where he finished the last fully completed lap before the red flag. He chose to run the soft rear Michelin rain tyre and was inside the top three as they exited the first corner. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) both sprinted off into the distance, but fell shortly after. This handed Marquez the lead, which he held until a determined Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) blasted pass. With Rossi out and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) floundering, Marquez chose to settle for second and extend his championship lead. He retains top position in the championship table and is now 24 points ahead of Lorenzo and a significant 42 points ahead of Rossi. Given the conditions on track, this is the best result Marquez could have hoped for. The next stop of the championship is Sachsenring, a track Marquez has won three straight races at.
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Marquez: "A critical result for the Championship"
Marc Marquez: “Today’s race was one of those in which you can either lose many points or gain them, and you can face it with two mentalities: either you take a risk to gain a bigger advantage, or you focus on finishing the race in order to lose the fewest points possible. The latter is the mentality that the team repeated to me about forty times between this morning and today, and it is exactly what I did. I tried to stay in the top five so as not to drop many points to Valentino [Rossi] and attempted to not make mistakes in order to finish the race. At the beginning of the first race I didn’t feel comfortable and lost touch, but then I was able to recover. I think that stopping the race was a good decision, because it was very dangerous out there.
"I knew that he would be going for his first win so I preferred to let him pass"
“In the second race I started off thinking about pushing a bit more, but everyone was very fast and I decided not to follow Rossi and Dovizioso because they were going too quickly. However, both of them crashed later on. When I saw Jack [Miller] stalking behind me, I knew that he would be going for his first win so I preferred to let him pass and keep a couple of seconds gap between us, as well as a cushion to third place. I did that because with Jorge [Lorenzo] so far back and Rossi out of the race, second place was as good as a victory. In the end, we leave Assen with a bigger lead.”
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