TT Assen: Honda race report

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) recorded the fastest lap of the race en route to a superb second place to race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) to reclaim second in the MotoGP World Championship in front of a sun-drenched crowd of over 97,000 at...

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) recorded the fastest lap of the race en route to a superb second place to race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) to reclaim second in the MotoGP World Championship in front of a sun-drenched crowd of over 97,000 at the 80th Dutch TT.

The Spaniard moved into second on the third of 26 laps and stalked Lorenzo throughout, closing sharply on the fourth of 26 laps when Pedrosa set a new fastest lap on the slightly altered 4.542kms Circuit van Drenthe. Pedrosa was able to keep within a second of Lorenzo for the first half of the race, which he credited to the team. His Repsol Honda technicians had transformed the RC212V overnight and when he went out in Saturday morning warm-up the difference was impressive, he said.

Using that newfound braking stability and front-end feel, he was able to nearly match the pace of the leader. But in the second half of the race his medium compound rear tyre wasn't the equal of Lorenzo's harder choice, and Lorenzo was able to incrementally gain ground.

That left Pedrosa to concentrate on securing second place, and his third podium in six races, but it wasn't easy. Pedrosa was under attack from Ducati rider Casey Stoner, but the Australian suffered from arm pump in the second half of the race and Pedrosa's position was secure.

Pedrosa moved back into second in the championship, four points ahead of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who was a podium threat for more than half the race.

Dovizioso started the race in fifth before quickly moving to fourth on lap four. At that point he was behind Stoner and soon to discover that the pace was a bit too quick. The Italian wasn't feeling confident in the front end, which tempered his aggression. He was also slowed by his tyre choice. Though the harder option worked well for Lorenzo, it didn't work as well for Dovizioso.

The second half of the race provided an entertaining battle among Ben Spies (Yamaha), Dovizioso, and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda). The trio was nearly inseparable until the final three laps, when it was clear that de Puniet was suffering from a lack of grip. At that point Spies got away and, on the 25th of 26 laps, Dovizioso passed de Puniet in the fast section leading to the chicane. De Puniet immediately countered, coming past in the chicane, then it was Dovizioso getting a superior drive onto the straight. De Puniet edged ahead, only to run wide into the first turn to hand fifth back to Dovizioso on the final lap.

De Puniet was happy with his race pace until the final four laps. He'd chosen the softer front tyre and the extra heat on race day produced more wear than the team had seen all weekend. With no confidence in the front end, de Puniet relied on the rear end, which was visibly moving under acceleration. Still, he came away pleased that he'd battled for the podium and equalled his best finish of the season.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had one of his longer races as a MotoGP rookie, though he was still able to produce a top ten finish. The Italian noticed a lack of grip from the start of the race, which meant he was taking unnecessary risks from the outset. He settled into a battle with Aleix Espargaro (Ducati), who he passed on the 21st lap. Espargaro wasn't going down without a fight, and battled Simoncelli to the line. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider prevailed by less than two-tenths of a second.

Simoncelli was the lone representative for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team in Assen. Team-mate Marco Melandri dislocated his left shoulder in a violent Friday morning crash. He considered racing, but realised on race day morning that it wasn't possible. He expects to be back in the saddle at Barcelona next weekend.

Kousuke Akiyoshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP), who was drafted onto the Interwetten Honda MotoGP team to replace Hiroshi Aoyama, finished with the final point. The Honda test rider was in Assen to test the bike and look for areas that could be strengthened for all Honda riders. Akiyoshi will also race Aoyama's Honda RC212V at Barcelona. Aoyama broke his T12 vertebra in a high-side at last weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The mercurial Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) repeated his dominant performance from Mugello by speeding from pole position to his second victory of the season. The Italian took all the drama out of the race on the first lap. He crossed the line with over a second in hand and continued to pull away at a brisk clip. By the 18th of 24 laps he had over nine seconds in hand, after which he decreased his pace. Even so, with a final lap that was three seconds slower than his best, he won by 4.492s.

Iannone has had a feast or famine season. Other than his wins here and in Mugello, he has only two points-paying finishes; a fourth in Le Mans and a 12th at Silverstone. If he's to be a championship challenger he'll need more consistency, a lesson he could learn from Toni Elias.

Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) increased his championship lead with a second place finish. The Spanish MotoGP veteran battled Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT Singha SAG) for the entire race, with the pair being joined by a trio of others in the final stages of the race.

With five laps to go Elias was leading the pack of five from Wilairot and Swiss rider Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki), who turned in his best lap of the race on the 19th. Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) and Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar, Suter) were close, second through sixth covered by two seconds. Two laps later the pack split up into a trio fighting for second and pair for fifth.

Luthi pushed Wilairot off the podium on the penultimate lap with a pass into the Haarbocht first corner right, but Wilairot came back at him only a few turns later and was leading when they exited the Strubben hairpin for the run down the longest straight. Then Luthi passed him again and led across the line as Elias edged away.

On the final lap, Elias led Luthi and Wilairot, with Wilairot again passing the Swiss rider into turn one. One turn later Luthi was again in second, a spot he'd hold to the finish. Wilairot was just off the podium in fourth and just in front of Simon. Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing, Suter), last week's winner at Silverstone, finished seventh.

Elias now leads the championship with an even 100 points, 24 more than Tomizawa, who has two on Luthi.

Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) finished 18th in the 125cc race which was won by Marc Marquez (Derbi). The 2009 German and European champion was hopeful of a better result at the iconic Dutch track, one of several he's racing on for the first time, but it wasn't to be. He vowed to be back in contending form in Barcelona.

The paddock packed up on Saturday night to begin the drive south to Catalunya, north of Barcelona, for the third race in as many weekends, and the seventh race of the season.


Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 2nd "Well, first of all I have to say I'm surprised by this result because, I tell you, in practice we had a lot of problems and we tried so many things that didn't work, so I wasn't expecting to get second today or to have this pace. For the warm-up we found something which gave us a better lap time and my rhythm improved a lot, which gave us the chance to fight in the race. I knew with the soft rear Bridgestone tyre that I would have more of an advantage in the first part of the race and so I pushed really hard from the start to catch up. But then I began losing a little bit of time in the first section of the circuit and lap-by-lap we lost touch. Anyway, this is a good result for us and I'd like to say thanks to my team because they never gave up. I'm back into second in the World Championship but actually I'm more pleased with second in this race. Now we go straight to Catalunya for my home GP and I hope we can have a good race there too."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 5th "We had higher expectations for today's race and so I'm a little disappointed with how things went. I made a good start and moved up to fourth but I couldn't ride the laps under 1m 35s that were needed to stay with the leaders. We weren't at 100% with the front-end feeling which meant I couldn't ride as aggressively as I wanted. Having said that, we could have finished in fourth today, but in the battle with Randy we lost time and Spies took advantage of our duel to get a gap. Considering how Dani's and Casey's soft tyres worked, our choice of the hard compound Bridgestone was perhaps not the perfect one today. Anyway, we have to learn from this and I'm looking forward to Barcelona - it's a track that I really like. Today's race was disappointing, but with only five days before we get back out on track we won't have to wait long before we can make amends."

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 6th "It was a good race and I had fun but, like in Mugello, I finished behind the leading group. It's a pity, but I feel satisfied anyway. I took a very good start from the front row and I could rely on my machine as we lapped consistently fast for the whole weekend. With four laps to go the front started to move too much because we raced on front soft tyre [which was the right choice] but probably today's ground temperature was a bit higher compared to the rest of the weekend. We had a great race weekend and I am a big fan of this new circuit. The guys gave me an incredible machine here and we can be pleased about this result as we battled for the podium. In my opinion we moved a step forward in this week end and will do our best to keep the sixth position in the world classification."

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 9th "It has been a particularly difficult day today. After practice I was hoping for a different kind of race but it didn't go to plan. I knew something wasn't right from the start because the feeling wasn't as good as yesterday, the rear tyre didn't have the same grip and from the first lap I was taking risks. I decided to pull oars into the boat and get to the line in the best position possible. It is a top ten finish but we wanted more today. It is a shame but on the plus side we did a good job just to get the bike to the finish. Now we go to Barcelona and I hope we can build on the good qualifying practice we had yesterday."

Kousuke Akiyoshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP): 15th "First of all I have to say that I wish all the best to Hiro (Aoyama) and I hope he will come back soon. In general this was a good weekend for me. I am here as a replacement and to test the bike and to help the team. The last time I was part of a race of the world championship was more than a year ago and once again I really enjoyed this experience. I am looking forward to the race in Barcelona."


Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up): 1st "The race was hard today. Wilairot passed me and after a while I overtook him: this was a good chance as it was important to go away. Behind me Toni (Elias) and the other guys were fast, I couldn't make the gap wider. Once half of the laps were gone, I managed to leave them behind with an important distance. It's also thanks to my team: we work well together and that makes it easier to score results. Now it's important to work using our brains, to stay focused because Catalunya is next Sunday and it'll be an important GP."

Toni Elias (Gresini Honda Moto2, Moriwaki): 2nd "After some poor results at Mugello and Silverstone to get back on the podium is perfect. I had a bit of trouble with (Ratthapark) Wilairot and (Fonsi) Nieto at the start and lost precious time over the first two laps to Iannone that I couldn't make up once I got clear. He was very strong, just like at Mugello. I worked hard for this second place though and it is important for the championship. It gives me and the team a boost and it seems we have come through the bad spell we had in the last couple of races. "

Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki): 3rd "The start of the race was not easy. I had a good start, but could not switch into the gear and lost the connection a little bit because of that. Then Iannone was already building up a gap behind him. At the end I was able to fight for the podium, but the second place was impossible to reach. I am very happy with my third place though."


Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team): 18th "It did not go well at all and I don't know why. I was sleeping in the beginning, even though I had a good start. Then some very slow riders were in front of me and I could not overtake at any point and that was not really motivating. I didn't find a good rhythm and could not stick to the group. Why it went like it did I cannot say as I don't know, but I am very disappointed."

-source: honda

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Ben Spies , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marco Simoncelli , Toni Elias , Thomas Luthi , Casey Stoner , Kousuke Akiyoshi , Julian Simon , Hiroshi Aoyama , Aleix Espargaro , Shoya Tomizawa , Jules Cluzel , Dani Pedrosa , Marc Marquez , Andrea Iannone , Marcel Schrötter
Teams Forward Racing , CIP