Stoner Wins, Rossi Crashes, Hayden Crushed

Cycle News Staff | June 28, 2008

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner won his second grand prix in a row with a flag to flag romp before 95,000 fans in the Dutch TT in Assen, Holland. And the MotoGP World Championship was turned upside down when Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi crashed on the first lap, allowing second place finisher Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) to take over the top spot at the halfway point in the season. The race began dramatically, with Rossi crashing in the first left-hander, taking LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet down with him and forcing Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards off the track and to the back of the field. Rossi re-mounted behind everyone, and with a heavily damaged shift lever, and mounted a charge to finish 11th. More impressive was Edwards’ run. The Texan was lapping faster than Pedrosa and Hayden. His speed carried him from last to fourth. Then he made a dramatic pass of the coasting Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) within sight of the checkered flag. Hayden suffered an electrical problem with his Honda RC212V in the same corner where he’d stolen the Dutch TT win from Edwards in 2006, when Edwards crashed out of the lead. “Well, you know, what do you say? What comes around, goes around,” Edwards said, jokingly. “He who laughs last, laughs the hardest. Whatever you might want to say. Karma, I guess.” It didn’t take Stoner long to pass Pedrosa for the lead and begin to build his cushion. It grew steadily to the end of the 26 lap race, peaking at 11.310 seconds. The more important numbers are on the championship table. Pedrosa now holds 171 points to 167 for Rossi and 142 for Stoner. The win was the first for Stoner at Assen, the first for Ducati at Assen, and the first for Bridgestone at Assen. “We’ve known we’ve had the pace to do it, but coming to race day it sort of makes you more nervous knowing that the only thing to go wrong is you,” Stoner said after his second win in a row and third of the year. “I really didn’t want to make any mistakes today. I didn’t want to have the weather sort of in the mix, maybe throwing a few spits and spots here and there. But it managed to stay clear for the race, so I was pretty happy about that. “As for Valentino (Rossi) crashing, it’s very unfortunate. I don’t want to catch up in points in that way, but I’ve had my run of bad luck as well from the beginning of the season so it’s time that we started to have some decent results. I’ve got to really to take my hat off to my team. They’ve been doing such a good job these last races to get us back on pace again and be competitive, I really have to thank everyone.” With Rossi having an off day, Pedrosa knew it was critical that he capitalize. “Yes, it was important to finish on front this race,” the Spaniard said. “I think second place is a very good result for us. We struggled a little bit on this track, but finally to get second is very important. I think in the race it was impossible to follow Casey (Stoner) and he was so fast. I just could try to do my best and go my rhythm and I finished second, so this result is good for me on this track. So I’m happy and also about the championship. Also I’m very happy to get back on the lead.” Edwards had made the pass for fourth on lap 14 of 26, with little hope of catching Hayden. But in the final chicane, Hayden, who’d started the final lap with more than three seconds on Edwards, suddenly slowed, then tucked in to coast to the finish. He could only watch as Edwards sped past to steal third and deny Hayden his first podium of the season. “I’m not sure,” Hayden said when asked what had gone wrong. “Something wasn’t right on the grid. It wasn’t running right. We were thinking of swapping bikes.” Hayden said the bike “wasn’t running 100 percent. Shoot, we were on for a good result. It’s a hard game some days.” Edwards said “it was a difficult race. I thought I got a good start and came out of turn one and I didn’t get a good start. And then Valentino crashed in front of me. I basically had to stop the bike. I was dead last and I had to come through the field and I saw Dani (Pedrosa) and Nicky (Hayden) coming back to me and I kept getting closer and closer and I was pushing as hard as I could. And there was nothing I could really do but keep pushing. Sure enough, on the last corner, that same old little section that got me a couple years ago got Nicky this year. “And you know, I guess that’s racing. We ended up on the podium, happy to be on the podium. And happy my wife and my kids are here to see it. That’s fantastic and thanks to the team. Everybody, it was a fantastic job.” JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso was alone in fifth, one up on fellow MotoGP rookie Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo had a difficult race after encountering an engine problem near the race’s midpoint. “It has been a very difficult race for us because in lap 10 the engine is going down the performance so much and it has no power the bike, and I couldn’t do more than I have done,” Lorenzo said. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano re-passed Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen at the end of the race to take eighth. Neither of their teammates were factors. Alex de Angelis crashed the second San Carlo Honda Gresini machine and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi sat out the race after suffering an arm puncture in a Thursday practice crash. Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland was ninth, one up on Alice Team’s Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) Rossi was 11th.

MotoGP: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 4. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 6. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 7. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 8. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 9. James Toseland (Yamaha) 10. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)