Dating back to 1925, the Dutch Grand Prix, officially the Dutch TT, is MotoGP’s answer to Monaco, with rich history and a race they all want to win. Here is the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix preview.
The TT Circuit Assen is known as the Cathedral of Speed. The circuit is full of fast, daunting corners that separate the men from the boys, with the world-famous Geert Timmer Chicane ending the 4.542km track. 2020 was the first time in the 72 year history of MotoGP that there was no Dutch Grand Prix on the calendar, with the TT Circuit being the only original track from 1949 that currently hosts a MotoGP round.
That first championship race in 1949 was won by Nello Pagani, who finished runner-up in the 500cc title despite actually scoring more points, as only the best three rounds counted. He also took out the 125cc race by almost a minute.
Three riders have won the Dutch TT ten times or more in various classes. The late Angel Nieto won the race 15 times, nine in 125cc and six in 50cc. Giacomo Agostini has won the race 14 times, right in 350cc and six in 500cc. The undisputed king of the premier class in the Netherlands though is Valentino Rossi. He’s taken out the Dutch Grand Prix eight times in MotoGP, most recently in 2017, along with once in both 250cc and 125cc in the 1990s.
Indeed, Rossi’s most recent victory in MotoGP was the 2017 Dutch Grand Prix, and with retirement on the cards, his performance here will likely decide whether he stays or goes.
The last time MotoGP was at Assen was in 2019, and that race was won by Maverick Vinales after Alex Rins fell from the lead early on. The Dutch TT is known for surprises, and no rider in any class has won more than once since 2016. That 2016 race is well remembered as a modern classic, as Jack Miller took his first career win in atrocious conditions, with two red flags in the race.
In fact, every race at Assen is a classic, with 2018 being remembered for a huge lead battle that lasted almost the entire race. In 2021, with the level of class in MotoGP, another memorable event seems to be guaranteed, with the likes of Rins and Vinales, who have nothing to lose, generally being very strong in Holland.
Another thing to spice things up, is a 90% chance of rain on Saturday, with 50% on Sunday. The Netherlands is known for rain, and rain it seems likely to do. Everyone knows how strong the likes of Miller and Danilo Petrucci are in the wet, so they could be contenders for the podium come race day.
The Dutch Grand Prix is generally known as a turning point in the title. As the midway point of the season and the last round before the summer break, the season focus generally shifts from winning races to taking the title in the frontrunners, while the mid-pack see their hopes fade and throw the kitchen sink to try and win.
Speaking of the frontrunners, the title race is beginning to turn into a four-way fight at the front, with the possibility of Miguel Oliveira joining, if he can maintain his momentum. All the Portuguese man needs is for the leaders to falter in one round and he’ll be in contention.
Of the top four in the title, only Fabio Quartararo has not won a race in Assen. Both Johann Zarco and Miller love the track, and Francesco Bagnaia won Moto2 in 2018. The unknowns for the weekend will be Oliveira and Marc Marquez. Both riders come to Assen with momentum, and both have won the Dutch TT before in various classes. One cannot rule out Maverick Vinales or Rossi either.
No matter what happens, one statement always reigns true. MotoGP is incapable of not bringing action, and it can’t be more true at Assen, as MotoGP gears up for the 90th running of the Dutch TT.