MotoGP: Rossi claws back 5 points from Stoner

Dutch TT showed us all what Rossi is made of

Hard passing ... Rossi puts a move on Stoner

VALENTINO Rossi showed he still has the magic touch by winning last weekend's Dutch MotoGP race.

The Italian produced a jaw-dropping performance, starting from 11th and reeling in championship leader Casey Stoner, who took the holeshot and at one point, had over three seconds lead on Rossi.

Pole man Vermeulen was quickly covered in a swarm of eager could-be winners, including Stoner, Hopkins, Pedrosa and Hayden.

Rossi looked to be struggling to match the pace after three laps but then he turned up the heat, passing Ducati's Loris Capriossi, and then he held out no favours for team-mate Edwards, passing him with ease. Then came Vermeulen, who seemed to be lacking the outright pace he showed in qualifying. Rossi dealt with Vermeulen with his usual clinical finish. Next up were the Repsol Hondas - who were a fighting pair, up at the sharp end - but Rossi made light work of the duo, taking him up to third place.

Hopkins was up next and he didn't last long. Rossi reeled in Hopkins' almost three-second advantage in just three laps. At first it seemed like the Bridgestone tyres of the front pairing had given them the edge in the opening laps, an edge Rossi was chipping away at, lap by lap.

Stoner's clear advantage could visibly be seen reducing, corner by corner as Rossi wrung out every available horsepower from his 800cc Yamaha. Within two laps Rossi was all over Stoner, making aggressive moves - even if for nothing more than to let Stoner know he was there.

It looked like Rossi had met his match as Stoner put up a fight and the sheer grunt of the Ducati kept Stoner out of the firing line, for a few laps at least. Rossi finally managed to pass Stoner with four laps remaining and from there the Italian pulled away at a rate of almost half-a-second a lap, winning by two-seconds and taking five valuable points off Stoner's championship lead.

Stoner took second, followed by Hayden in third - his best result of the season. Pedrosa took fourth, Hopkins was losing pace in the final few laps and slipped back to fifth. If the race had been a lap longer, Edwards, who finished sixth, would have been within passing range of Hopkins, who, it has to be said, rode a great race.

Halfway through this exciting season, Rossi is 21 points down on Stoner, but clawing back these five points will no doubt play to Rossi's advantage.

Assen TT final standings

1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 42:37.149

2. Casey Stoner Ducati + 1.909

3. Nicky Hayden Honda + 6.077

4. Daniel Pedrosa Honda + 10.465

5. John Hopkins Suzuki + 13.138

6. Colin Edwards Yamaha + 15.139

7. Alex Barros Ducati + 36.075

8. Alex Hofmann Ducati + 41.768

9. Anthony West Kawasaki + 43.605

10. Marco Melandri Honda + 43.796

11. Carlos Checa Honda + 43.826

12. Shinya Nakano Honda + 47.896

13. Makoto Tamada Yamaha + 54.068

14. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha + 57.718

15. Kurtis Roberts KR +1:28.637

16. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki +1:34.808