FIM MotoGP - TT Assen Race Report
INDIANAPOLIS, Jul. 4, 2012: Put the coronation of King Jorge on hold.
Defending World Champion Casey Stoner suddenly pulled even with Jorge Lorenzo atop the MotoGP World Championship standings with a victory Saturday, June 30 in TT Assen, as Lorenzo failed to finish for the first time this season after being taken out in the first turn by a reckless Alvaro Bautista.
Dani Pedrosa finished second, with Andrea Dovizioso passing American Ben Spies on the final lap for the third spot on the podium.The eventful race in the Netherlands shook the title chase to the core.
2010 World Champion Lorenzo had four victories and two runner-up finishes in six starts this season, building a 25-point lead over Stoner entering the oldest race in the World Championship. But all that effort was wiped out when Bautista throttled his San Carlo Gresini Honda too fast into Turn 1 after the start, fell and swept Lorenzo's Yamaha Factory Racing machine into the gravel.
Race Direction penalized Bautista by forcing him to start last on the grid at the next race, the German Grand Prix on July 8 at the Sachsenring. But that provided little consolation to a seething Lorenzo, who is tied with Stoner at 140 points each.
"Well, today was a complete disaster," Lorenzo said. "Alvaro's move was crazy. I met him after the incident. He apologized, and we shook hands. But in my opinion, this is not enough to justify the accident. When I made a mistake in Japan in 2005, I was penalized with a race. Race Direction told me that he will start from last position on the grid in Sachsenring, but this is nothing. We hope that we will be lucky in the future that nothing will happen, but if the riders are not penalized properly, then they will continue to do crazy things like today.
"Luckily for us, we had a 25-point advantage, or we would now be far behind. Now we are at zero with Casey, so we begin again. The championship is long, so let's see what happens."
The incident between Lorenzo and Bautista overshadowed one of the best rides of Stoner's career, which will end when he retires after this season. Stoner had a vicious high-side crash during practice Saturday and suffered deep bruising. But he managed to return to his bike within a few hours to win pole on his Repsol Honda.
In the 26-lap race Sunday, Stoner hounded teammate Pedrosa for the first 17 laps of the race. But on Lap 18, Stoner passed Pedrosa for the lead and never trailed thereafter despite the risky gamble of choosing Bridgestone's quicker-wearing soft rear tire in hot conditions.
Spies continued to rebound from a miserable start to the season with his best finish of 2012 and his second consecutive top-five result. He was headed for his first podium finish of the season on his Yamaha Factory machine before chunks of rubber fell out of his hard-compound Bridgestone rear tire late in the race.
Fellow American Hayden finished sixth on his Ducati Team machine, tied for his best result of the season. But Texan Colin Edwards continued to struggle with his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW, failing to finish for the second time in the last three races due to mechanical problems.
The MotoGP World Championship comes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the fifth Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 17-19.
PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES
CASEY STONER (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): "To take pole position and now the win is really incredible. My plan was to get a better start than I actually did, take some advantage and use the energy I had to try and make a gap and try to hold on to the end. We also knew that whichever position we were in, we had to preserve the rear tire. Choosing the softer tire, there was a big chance that we would destroy it and have nothing left for the end of the race. When I saw Dani was running at a reasonable pace and we were pulling away from the others, I decided to stay there and watch him to save the tires and my energy as much as I could. With a few laps remaining, I knew we wouldn't suffer a big drop in tire performance. I still felt good, so I decided to pass him and see if I could pull a gap. It was a tough race. I had a lot of arm pump as I had to compensate for my injuries from the crash yesterday, but my fitness was good and the bike was working well in general. I'm sorry for Jorge. Nobody wants to take points over a competitor in this manner, but as we can see, one race can change everything."
DANI PEDROSA (Second, Repsol Honda Team): "Looking at the lap times we did during the weekend, I knew I had better rhythm than Casey, so I made a good start and tried to pull away from the first laps. Casey stayed behind me all the time, and by the second half of the race, I believe he took profit of extra energy he saved during the first part of the race to overtake me. Our pace was very good in the race. The bike worked very well, but maybe I just chose the wrong strategy this time. At the end of the race, the bike felt heavy with change of direction due to tiredness, and it was enough to slow me down from 1:35 to 1:36 for just two laps, and I lost ground, but this is racing."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO (Third, Monster Yamaha Tech 3): "Scoring a podium for us feels like a victory, and today is another great day for me and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. This podium is great because I have never had a very good feeling at this track, but with the Yamaha YZR-M1, I felt much more comfortable. I was only seventh on the grid, but I knew all weekend my race pace was very fast, and I always felt a podium was a realistic goal. I got a good start, and it was a beautiful battle with Spies for the whole race. It was a really strong battle, and the pace was very high. And when I passed Spies for the first time, I tried not to abuse the tires too much because I knew the first two were already too far ahead. I dropped my pace, and it really paid off because at the end of the race I was much stronger than him, and it seems he apparently had some issue with the rear tire."
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
BEN SPIES (Fourth, Yamaha Factory Racing): "Today the bike was good. I struggled with some front grip in the beginning but was able to ride around it. I managed to stay past Dovi and ride at my own pace. Then about seven or eight laps from the end, I was pushing to get away. A chunk came out of the tire and then a second; I couldn't do anything about it. I was hoping Dovi would get past me as I was worried the tire would explode, and I didn't want to fall right in front of him. We've made some mistakes early in the year, but the last two weekends we've had a bike to be on the podium, but issues have prevented it. The bike and the team are working so well, and I've been really comfortable on it, so it's disappointing."
NICKY HAYDEN (Sixth, Ducati Team): "I got a pretty good start and stayed out of the mess in Turn 1, but then I braked too deep in the chicane and went through the gravel. I almost lost the train, but I charged and was able to catch the group again. My bike felt pretty decent, and I got back in front of those guys. I was fighting with Crutchlow and Barbera. After Cal passed, Hector made a big mistake in the chicane, and I almost hit him. Valentino and some of the others had tire problems, but mine hung in there better than some. It would be nice not to have made that mistake on Lap 1, but I know if I want to go with that group, I've got to go at 100 percent. A couple guys fell down, which helped me to get sixth place, but that's racing."
COLIN EDWARDS (Did not finish, NGM Mobile Forward Racing): "It has been a complicated weekend, in many respects. Yesterday's weather conditions didn't help at all in finding the pace, and at the same time we have found problems with various components of the bike. During today's race, I entered the pits because the traction control didn't work as it should. It was a shame because the team has worked really hard, but we don't seem to be able to solve these problems. We hope that things will go better in Sachsenring next week."
Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 140, Casey Stoner 140, Dani Pedrosa 121, Cal Crutchlow 77, Andrea Dovizioso 76, Valentino Rossi 61, Nicky Hayden 59, Alvaro Bautista 58, Stefan Bradl 51, Ben Spies 48, Hector Barbera 46, Aleix Espargaro 20, Randy de Puniet 19, Michele Pirro 16, Mattia Pasini 12, Danilo Petrucci 9, James Ellison 9, Ivan Silva 5, Karel Abraham 4, Colin Edwards 4, Yonny Hernandez 4.
Manufacturers: Yamaha 156, Honda 151, Ducati 75, ART 32, FTR 16, Ioda 9, BQR 7, Suter 4, BQR-FTR 2.