Valentino Rossi says that Saturday’s Dutch TT victory was his most important of the MotoGP season, as he increased his advantage over the revitalised Marc Marquez.
Yamaha legend Rossi scored his third win of the season at Assen after a fierce duel with Marquez, who enjoyed a strong race having switched back to a 2014-spec Honda chassis.
Their battle was only decided at the final corner, where they clashed and Rossi straight-lined the chicane to score victory.
“First of all, I’m very happy for my [points] advantage over Marquez, for me – from now until the end of the season – he will become a big problem again,” said Rossi, who is 74 points clear of Marquez in the championship as it approaches its halfway point.
“My pace was not so bad, but I was not able to make a gap [to Marquez in the race]. Then, when I got quite tired, I made three mistakes, so Marc overtook me.
"It was good to understand his pace, because when I was behind him I could understand where I was faster than him.”
Gaining nine points on Lorenzo
On the subject of his title battle with teammate Jorge Lorenzo, he added: “It’s like I cancelled Jerez or Mugello [where he finished third each time], because Jorge recovered nine points over me, and this time I was able to come back and recover another nine to him.
“And now I lead [Lorenzo] by 10 points, but I know it will be a very long, and very difficult championship.”
Assen victory vital in title bid
Rossi admitted this was a crucial weekend in his bid to win his 10th world championship, which would be his eighth in the premier class.
It also ended Lorenzo’s streak of four consecutive race wins, and featured his first pole position of a year in which qualifying has proven a particular weak spot.
“This one was very important because I was competitive through all the weekend,” said Rossi. “The 25 points were very important for the championship.
“Weekends like this make you feel very confident for the future.”