ASSEN, HOLLAND, JUNE 30 – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner rode through the pain of a horrific Friday crash to win his third race of the year and move into a championship tie with Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha rider who was taken out by the out-of-control Alvaro Bautista and his San Carlo Honda Gresini in the very first corner.
Stoner’s fall came in Friday morning practice, knocking him around and bringing worries about his fitness for the race and the next two that follow on consecutive weekends. In qualifying he put the fears to rest by putting in a surprising pole-winning performance, which would be more valuable than he imagined.
On the run to the first turn teammate Dani Pedrosa got away first with Stoner second. Lorenzo was on the outside left part of the track and just turning in when Bautista locked up the front wheel and crashed, sliding to his left and cleaning out Lorenzo.
It was déjà vu from Valencia 2011, when the Spaniard did the same thing to Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi in the first turn. Race direction is investigating the incident.
Pedrosa and Stoner broke away, while in third it was Yamaha’s Ben Spies fighting with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi made his pass on the eighth lap, but by then they were more than three seconds behind the leaders and unable to keep pace.
Stoner stalked Pedrosa until lap 17 when he could see the Spaniard was struggling physically. His pass was precise and definitive, in one of the faster sections of the track. From there he had a clear path this his third win of the season.
The margin of victory was 4.965 seconds.
His win and Lorenzo’s misfortune puts them tied in points at 140 after seven of 18 races.
Spies got back in front of Dovi on lap 12 and appeared to be easing away. But for the second race in a row he ran into tire problems and Dovi could see it. When Dovizioso went at him in the first corner on the last lap he had no answer.
Still, it was Spies’ best ride of the year and it comes at the right time with races on the next two weekends.
Monster Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow had to check up when Bautista took out Lorenzo, ending his chances of a podium finish. Crutchlow was spewing mad after the race, calling Bautista a “d&^%head,” and pointing out that he was still shifting gears while the others were braking. Crutchlow finished the first lap in 12th, but worked his way up to fifth on the 15th of 26 laps, ending the string of Yamahas at three.
Next came a pair of Ducatis and nearly three. Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden had an eventful race with Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera, having to take evasive action in the chicane on the 21st when the Spaniard got airborne in the transition. That was Hayden’s cue to make the pass and race to sixth place, tying his season best from Le Mans and Qatar.
Teammate Valentino Rossi was running in that same pack until he was forced to pit with 10 laps to go to change tires. He circulated to finish 13th, a lap down.
The next places were processional. Barbera was alone, as was Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar, ART), the first of CRT set in eighth. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s had his best MotoGP ride finishing ninth on the FTR-Honda, with Mattia Pasini tenth on the Speed Master ART.
Colin Edwards had another miserable race on the NGM Mobile Forward Racing BMW-Suter. Edwards was last when he pulled in on the eighth lap.
Assen MotoGP Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda)
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha)
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
7. Hector Barbera (Ducati)
8. Randy de Puniet (ART)
9. Michele Pirro (FTR-Honda)
10. Mattia Pasini (ART)