Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi overcame a poor start and a late contest from compatriot Marco Melandri to clinch his latest MotoGP victory at the historic Assen circuit on Saturday, as his usual rivals again failed to make an impression on the race.

Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi overcame a poor start and a late contest from compatriot Marco Melandri to clinch his latest MotoGP victory at the historic Assen circuit on Saturday, as his usual rivals again failed to make an impression on the race.

Starting from pole position in the last MotoGP race before a section of the classic course is redesigned, Rossi was pipped at the start by veteran rider Sete Gibernau as Rossi dropped to sixth behind the Honda rider, his team-mate Melandri, Kawasaki’s Shinya Nakano and Honda rider Nicky Hayden by the end of the first lap.

But the 26-year-old world champion worked his way through the field and outbraked then-leader Melandri on the chicane halfway through lap ten to snatch the lead. Despite a brave fight by his countryman, Rossi recorded the fastest lap of the race on the final tour around the circuit and just managed to stay ahead of Melandri to claim the chequered flag.

The Italian racer's victory was his fifth successive one, and with it, secured him a place in Yamaha’s record books as he became the first rider to win five races in a row.

"I can't believe that I am the first Yamaha rider to win five races in a row," he said. "When you look at the company I am in with Yamaha's former world champions - Giacomo Agostini, Eddie Lawson, Kenny Roberts and Wayne Rainey - it's great."

Hayden finished fourth in Saturday’s Dutch TT, ahead of early leader Gibernau, who finished in a disappointing fifth position. Max Biaggi, who had been fined for his behaviour during Friday’s qualifying session, finished sixth after a tough battle with Honda’s Alex Barros.

After a strong start off the grid, Nakano went on to finish eighth, while Ducati’s Carlos Checa and Loris Capirossi completed the top ten.

Rossi’s latest victory puts him within reach of a fifth world title as Melandri remains second on the points log, a whopping 63 points behind the championship leader after seven rounds.