Yamaha Factory Racing's Ben Spies took his first win in the MotoGP class, with the two Repsol Hondas of Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso occupying the lower two steps on the podium at the Iveco TT Assen race on Saturday.
American Spies, who was edged out of pole position by Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team), rode a perfect race to cross the line 7.697s ahead of Stoner in second place. The Texan had a good start, allowing him to narrowly avoid the drama of the first lap, when pole starter Italian Simoncelli took out Spies' team mate Jorge Lorenzo in the third corner. Simoncelli had hoped to finally reach the podium in the Saturday race, but the Italian fell victim to a cold tire early on.
"It was strange because it was one of the most comfortable races I've had, and it resulted in a win," Spies admitted. "I had a good feeling with the bike at the start of the race so I pushed to make a gap. Even after I was three or four seconds ahead of Casey, when he pushed to try to catch me, I still had some reserve I could use, so I could speed up if I needed to.
"At least I don't have to hear 'are you ever going to win a race?' There is always that question. Now I can keep developing the bike for next year and keep having fun. Obviously now I want a championship."
Stoner led team mate Dovizioso to the finish, where the Italian claimed his third top three finish of the 2011 season. Stoner is now 28 points ahead of Lorenzo in the Championship while Dovizioso remains third, but is now only nine points behind the Spaniard.
Battered and bruised from a Friday accident, Stoner never felt totally comfortable with his set up all weekend and was very relieved to score some important Championship points.
"Today we would have liked to challenge for the win but the way this weekend has gone for us I'm really very happy for a podium finish and to take some valuable points," Stoner explained. "Yesterday we weren't happy with the set up, so today we made some changes and tried to get some more feeling, but unfortunately in the warm up we didn't get a proper chance to try it, which meant we started the race with a set up we didn't really know.
"After the crash yesterday I'm a little bit sore, in the middle part of the race I started to have some problems in the left hand corners with the shoulder but in general we knew we didn't really have the pace to stay with Ben. I tried everything possible to catch him, but he was able to retain the advantage and start to pull some more, so my congratulations to Ben, he rode a great race, but for us it was just important to get points today."
Dovizioso was also still a little sore from a Friday fall. He experienced a tire issue in the race which affected his ability to stay with Stoner.
"I'm really happy with today's podium," the Italian said. "It's a good result for the Championship and also it has come after a complicated race weekend.
"The track conditions were tough. When we were on the grid, the weather was still unpredictable and the track was not completely dry, so we went for a safe tire selection, choosing the soft front tire. This choice influenced my race because when I tried to stay with Casey, I was losing the front and I couldn't push harder. This is my only disappointment today. Then after 15 laps, a strange vibration on the rear began. It was very annoying and I couldn't understand what it was. As I had a good margin from Valentino, I rode more carefully to secure the third position. After the race we saw that the front tire had some issues, which Bridgestone will analyse."
The Ducati Team duo was led across the finish line by Valentino Rossi in fourth and Nicky Hayden in fifth. Lorenzo was able to rejoin the race and put his head down after the clash with Simoncelli to cross the line in sixth place.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards was seventh, in front of Dani Pedrosa's stand-in Hiroshi Aoyama. They were followed by Simoncelli in ninth, who rejoined the race after push starting his own motorcycle following the run in on the first lap. Toni Elias of the LCR Honda team completed the top 10 finishers.
Cal Crutchlow exited the track with a front tire problem, though re-entered the race to finish 14th.
Karel Abraham ended what was otherwise a good weekend for the Cardion AB Motoracing with a fall early in the race. He was followed a short time later by Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing), the fourth DNF of the season for the Frenchman. Both riders were unhurt in the falls.
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) did not participate in the race due to injuries sustained in a fall during the qualifying session.
Marc Marquez took his second victory of his Moto2 debut season in tricky conditions at the Iveco TT Assen ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu and Bradley Smith. Reigning 125cc Champion Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) crossed the finish line in first, climbing six places in the Moto2 Championship to put him second in the standings.
Both Sofuoglu and Smith led the field throughout the race, battling with Spanish star Márquez and Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing), who made it up to second position before crashing out with only four laps to go. Mike di Meglio (Tech 3) was also an early front runner until he crashed out as well.
Anthony West (MZ Racing) rode a strong race to finish fourth, his best finish of the season thus far. The Australian was chased by Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) in fifth and Mattia Pasini (Ioda Racing Project) in sixth.
Maverick Viñales charged to his second victory of the 2011 125cc World Championship at Assen, pulling a two and a half second gap over Luis Salom in second and Sergio Gadea in third before rain produced a red flag. Rookie Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) pulled away from the field after a thrilling start saw a group of eight riders battling for the lead. The 16-year-old had dropped back as far as ninth position, only to make his way back to the front, finally making an outside pass on Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) to take the lead on lap 10.
MotoGP Race Results
1. Ben SPIES (USA) Yamaha Factory Racing / Yamaha 41:44.659
2. Casey STONER (AUS) Repsol Honda Team / Honda +7.697
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (ITA) Repsol Honda Team / Honda +27.506
4. Valentino ROSSI (ITA) Ducati Team / Ducati +30.684
5. Nicky HAYDEN (USA) Ducati Team / Ducati +43.172
6. Jorge LORENZO (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing / Yamaha +44.536
7. Colin EDWARDS (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / Yamaha +1:08.112
8. Hiroshi AOYAMA (JPN) Repsol Honda Team / Honda +1:10.753
9. Marco SIMONCELLI (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini / Honda +1:24.925
10. Toni ELIAS (SPA) LCR Honda MotoGP / Honda +1:26.216
11. Alvaro BAUTISTA (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP / Suzuki +1:38.466
12. Hector BARBERA (SPA) Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP / Ducati +1 Lap
13. Kousuke AKIYOSHI (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini / Honda +1 Lap
14. Cal CRUTCHLOW (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / Yamaha +2 Laps
Randy DE PUNIET (FRA) Pramac Racing Team / Ducati 25 Laps
Karel ABRAHAM (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing / Ducati 0 Laps
MotoGP Point Standings
1. Casey STONER (Honda) 136
2. Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha) 108
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Honda) 99
4. Valentino ROSSI (Ducati) 81
5. Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati) 71
6. Dani PEDROSA (Honda) 61
7. Ben SPIES (Yamaha) 61
8. Hiroshi AOYAMA (Honda) 51
9. Colin EDWARDS (Yamaha) 46
10. Marco SIMONCELLI (Honda) 39
11. Hector BARBERA (Ducati) 35
12. Toni ELIAS (Honda) 34
13. Karel ABRAHAM (Ducati) 33
14. Cal CRUTCHLOW (Yamaha) 32
15. Alvaro BAUTISTA (Suzuki) 27
16. Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati) 22
17. Randy DE PUNIET (Ducati) 10
18. John HOPKINS (Suzuki) 6
19. Kousuke AKIYOSHI (Honda) 3
Monday, June 27, 2011
Spies claims first MotoGP win