Rossi gets 100


Rossi celebrates with Lorenzo and Stoner

Italy’s hero Valentino Rossi carded the milestone of his 100th Grand Prix victory at the "Cathedral of Speed" of Assen in the Netherlands June 27. In front of more than 90,000 spectators, The Doctor dispatched Ducati’s Casey Stoner on the second lap and cleared off with his Fiat Yamaha to a dominant victory.

Only one other rider has more than 100 wins, that being the legendary Giacomo Agostini. Of that, Rossi said, "I’m only the second rider to arrive at this number, but Agostini still has 22 more and for me he is still the greatest!" He thanked Yamaha and his team, including his team manager Jerry Burgess, and "Especially however I have to thank the friends who have been with me my whole life and my father Graziano, who won here in Assen 30 years ago when I was a baby, and my mother Stefania, because they have always supported me."

Rossi stopped on the cool-down lap and helped his fan club unroll a huge poster featuring photos of him in the 99 previous victories he’d had.

Yamaha had as good a day, with Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finishing a distant second after fighting back from a poor start, plus the Tech 3/Monster team of Colin Edwards and James Toseland took fourth and sixth, making four Yamahas in the top six.

Honda had a horrible day, with both factory Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso crashing out in the same corner on different laps.

The other top six riders were Alice Ducati’s Casey Stoner, who had a lonely ride to third and is still suffering from some mysterious illness; he nearly collapsed after the race and couldn’t get to the TV interviews. Fifth went to Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen; some thanks must be given to Suzuki for updated engine and chassis parts, but there are lots of rumours swirling around "Chris the V’s" future with the team as well, so no doubt he’s trying even harder than usual.

While the top four riders mostly rode around well separated in a (very fast) procession, the action from sixth back to about 12th was reminiscent of a convention of axe murderers. Riders went from the front to the back of the group in the blink of an eye, and there was more ragged pushing and passing than you’d normally see in half a dozen Moto GPs; great stuff.

It wasn’t settled until the last lap, when Mika Kallio ran off in sixth and crashed his Pramac Ducati, letting Toseland into the position. Behind him Randy de Puniet, Tony Elias (both on customer Hondas), Nicky Hayden on the second Ducati, and Loris Capirossi on the second Suzuki rounded out the top 10.

After seven of 17 races (the next one is next weekend, July 4-5, at Laguna Seca/Maxda Raceway near Monterey, California), the standings look like this:

1. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Fiat Yamaha, 131 points; 2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Fiat Yamaha, 126; 3. Casey Stoner, Australia, Marlboro Ducati, 122; 4. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda, 69; 5. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 67; 6. Colin Edwards, USA, Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 67; 7. Loris Capirossi, Italy, Rizla Suzuki, 56; 8. Marco Melandri, Italy, Hayate/Kawasaki, 55; 9. Chris Vermeulen, Australia, Rizla Suzuki, 53; 10 Randy de Puniet, France, LCR Honda, 51.

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