By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
- Spies lands his maiden win
- 50 Years of GP racing for Yamaha
- Repsol Honda finish 2nd & 3rd
Yamaha get the perfect gift from Ben Spies on special weekend
Ben Spies grabbed his first ever MotoGP win today at the Iveco TT Assen and gave his Yamaha Factory Racing team the perfect gift as the Japanese manufacturer is celebrating 50 years of Grand Prix racing this weekend. The Texan won the race comfortably over Repsol Honda duo, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso, in a race that saw a number of incidents taking place; one of which would determine the final podium positions.
With ominous grey skies surrounding the famous Assen TT circuit, the race got off to a dry and thrilling start with the frontmen all pushing for the lead. It was Spies who hit the front due to the Yamaha rider’s blistering start to be overshadowed by an incident between Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Spies’ teammate Jorge Lorenzo who crashed after Simoncelli made an aggressive move underneath the reigning champion.
Both Lorenzo and Simoncelli remounted at the back of the field that was now spread out at the front due to the crash and Repsol Honda riders Stoner and Dovizioso now in pursuit of Spies who had a few seconds gap to the Honda duo who were being followed by Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Ducati Marlboro rider Valentino Rossi on his brand new GP11.1.
While Spies continued to push hard to build on his lead, Stoner took some time out of the Texan in the first number of laps with Dovizioso holding station behind his teammate. Lorenzo meanwhile was making a steady move through the field and by lap 10 he was up to 10th position while Simoncelli was struggling with his ailing RC212V and was still at the back of the field.
Thrilled about his first MotoGP win Spies was delighted to have won the race on such a special occasion, “It was a strange race today as it was one of the most comfortable races we had and it resulted in a win. I saw the Simoncelli crash on the TV screen in the corner of my eye so I knew about it. I had a good feeling in the bike in the first couple of laps and had to push as much as I could to get a gap,” said the Texan.
“When Casey was pushing back I still had a few tenths if I needed to, we could always match the pace. To do it this weekend with the 50th colours gives a little bit of pressure but it came out good! I was racing as hard as I could, I have to thank my guys; they gave me a great bike today. At least we’ve won a race now!”
Meanwhile Stoner wasn’t too happy with his whole weekend but was content to extend his championship lead. “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. Yesterday we weren't happy with the bike 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,” Stoner added.
Dovizioso was very happy with his win and while he now sits in third overall in this year’s standings he said he was also happy that he helped his teammate in building on the championship lead. “I’m really happy with today’s podium. 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 tyre selection, choosing the soft front tyre.
“After the race we saw that the front tyre had some issues, which Bridgestone will analyse. Anyway, this second podium in a row and the third so far, shows that in the important moment we are there. Moreover, with today’s result we have reduced the gap from Jorge and consolidated third position in the Championship. I look forward to Mugello next week, the track is fantastic and the spectators are amazing,” Dovizioso concluded.
Rossi and Crutchlow were battling it out for 5th and it was the seven-time MotoGP champion who was the stronger of the two and after making it passed the British rider he pulled away a little only to see Crutchlow pit with what appeared to be a front end problem on his YZR-M1. Further incidents mid-pack saw Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) crash out while Randy de Puniet suffered more bad fortune to crash making it a weekend to forget for his Pramac Racing team that had already withdrawn Loris Capirossi from the race following a heavy crash in yesterday’s qualifying session.
Rossi continued to push in the race and finished only three seconds off the back of Dovizioso to finish in 4th position and in good shape ahead of next weekend’s race in Rossi’s beloved Mugello in Italy. Crutchlow’s problem saw the rookie re-joining at the back of the field that was now being cut through by Lorenzo who would eventually finish in a well-earned 6th position but the Spaniard will fuming with Simoncelli who he already clashed with off the track at a press conference warning the Italian about what some view as aggressive racing tactics.
Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden managed to finish in a deserved 5th position and ahead of Lorenzo. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards made it into 7th spot after battling mid-pack throughout the race. Finishing behind the American was Hiroshi Aoyama who was deputising this weekend for an injured Dani Pedrosa. Simoncelli would eventually finish in 9th position after taking some time to get back up to speed on his damaged RC212V.
Toni Elias performed better than normal this weekend and gave his LCR Honda team a top ten finish while Alvrao Bautista did his best to finish in 11th for the Rizla Suzuki team. Bautista finished ahead of Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) with the Spaniard being followed into 13th position by Kousuke Akiyoshi who was filling in on what is usually Aoyama’s bike. The final and 14th spot went to Cal Crutchlow after pitting for a new front tyre.
While Spies celebrates his first ever MotoGP win and the first World Superbike rider to win a race since Troy Bayliss in Valencia 2006, Stoner will be content in the knowing that he now has a 28-point advantage over Lorenzo heading into next weekend’s race in Mugello.