MotoGP 2011 – Round Seven – Assen
Spies lands first MotoGP victory with flawless performance at Assen
American Ben 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 Casey 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 tyre early on.
Stoner led team mate Andrea 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.
The Ducati Team duo was lead 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 Elías of the LCR Honda team completed the top ten finishers.
Cal Crutchlow exited the track with a front tyre 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.
1 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 41’44.659
2 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 0’07.697
3 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’27.506
4 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 0’30.684
5 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 0’43.172
6 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 0’44.536
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’08.112
8 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’10.753
9 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’24.925
10 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’26.216
11 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’38.466
12 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP -1Laps
13 Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda JPN -1Laps
14 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR -2Laps
1. Casey Stoner Honda AUS 136
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 108
3. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 99
4. Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 81
5. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 71
6. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 61
7. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 61
8. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 51
9. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 46
10. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 39
11. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 35
12. Toni Elias Honda ESP 34
13. Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 33
14. Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 32
15. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 27
16. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 22
– Yamaha Report
Texan Ben Spies chose to kick off Yamaha’s 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix Racing in style today, delivering a flawless performance at the Assen TT to claim his first ever MotoGP race win. Spies had been on form all weekend delivering consistent fast race pace in all sessions whether wet or dry and been beaten to pole by a mere 0.009 seconds by Marco Simoncelli. A great start saw him leading the race from the first corner, quickly building a sizeable gap to Casey Stoner in chase which he held and extended to over 7.6 seconds by the chequered flag. The victory was all the sweeter for being delivered riding in the special red and white livery used this weekend to mark the anniversary celebrations.
Team mate Jorge Lorenzo delivered a true champion’s performance after being cause to crash on the first lap by Marco Simoncelli. Lorenzo quickly remounted and charged from the back of the pack through to claim an impressive sixth place finish and salvage valuable championship points from the unfortunate incident.
As a result of his performance Spies jumps to seventh in the championship standings, tying with Dani Pedrosa on 61 points in sixth and just ten points behind Nicky Hayden in fifth. Lorenzo adds ten points to his championship tally and heads to Mugello next week with 108, 28 points behind leader Casey Stoner.
Ben Spies / Position 1st – Time 41.44.659 / “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. 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!”
Jorge Lorenzo / Position 6th – Time +44.536 / “Of course Simoncelli doesn’t want to throw me off the track, that wasn’t his intention but I think he is not very conscious about the risks in this class with these tyres. I thought he learnt from the past and the polemic he created with Dani but it’s clear he hasn’t learnt. The good thing is that we finished in sixth and took some points. I was fast with a good pace. The championship is now more difficult so we have to go all out to win races and go fast. We are making changes to the bike that are making it better with stability to brake harder and deeper so I think we can go to Mugello and be more competitive like Ben demonstrated today. I want to say a big congratulations to him for his first GP win and also thank you to all my guys who again worked really hard all weekend to give me a competitive bike.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager / “A very tough race, mixed feelings here as we are very disappointed by the action with Simoncelli, It was a racing accident but pretty stupid. I’m happy for Ben that we were able to win here for the 50th Anniversary race. It’s good to see we are able to win and it was also good to see Jorge picked up quickly and was able to do very good lap times so we know the speed was there. I know we would have been able to fight for the podium. I have to congratulate Ben he did a great job this weekend and I feel sorry for Jorge as he didn’t deserve this result.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director / “Ben rode a really fantastic race today, we are very proud and I don’t think his first GP win could have been more perfect. He was consistently fast all weekend and we were confident that he would deliver a really strong performance today. It’s even more special to have won here whilst celebrating our 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix racing. I have to say his crew worked extremely hard all weekend and made sure he had a bike that he could win on. I’m very disappointed for Jorge, it was clear the crash was not his fault. He showed his true colours as a world class racer with the way he rode following the incident. We leave Assen with a day of highs and lows and head to Mugello with even more confidence that we have made another step in our package and can challenge for more victories.”
Edwards and Crutchlow denied top five in Assen
Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow both saw deserved top five finishes in the Iveco TT Assen elude them at the legendary Circuit van Drenthe this afernoon. After rain had played a major part in the earlier 125cc and Moto2 races, the 26-lap race started on a dry but cold track, with threatening grey clouds still looming overhead as the action commenced. With air temperatures only just reaching a cold 13 degrees and the earlier rain affecting grip levels, Edwards and Crutchlow both fitted the soft compound Bridgestone front tyre to their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machines.
Crutchlow made the best start of his MotoGP career and ended the first lap in fourth place, the British rider showing phenomenal early speed to chase Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso. Ignoring the pain of the recovering left collarbone he broke at Silverstone just 15 days ago, the adrenaline fuelled 25-year-old superbly kept nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi at bay until he started to encounter a front tyre grip issue after five laps.
Determined to overcome the issue to claim his first top six MotoGP finish, he fought brilliantly to remain in the top six until lap 11 when the problem worsened. The 2009 World Supersport champion opted to pit for a new front tyre on lap 13 and he demonstrated his true potential again in the second half of the race to set a fast and consistent pace on his way to 14th. American Edwards also encountered a front tyre grip issue as the race avoided any repeat of the earlier rain. Once he’d settled into a fast pace, Edwards was comfortably cutting the gap to Crutchlow and Rossi when his front tyre started to lose traction.
He held fifth until lap 17 when he was unable to hold off compatriot Nicky Hayden. Edwards also then encountered a rare arm pump issue caused as he tried to compensate for the muscle damage to his left ribcage suffered in a recent crash at the Catalunya. Despite his best efforts the 37-year-old was unable to maintain his pace and he dropped down the order to finish in seventh position.
Colin Edwards / Position 7th – Time +1.08.112 / “That wasn’t an easy race at all and to be honest I’m happy I made it to the finish. I was feeling really good and catching Valentino and Cal when I went through the second corner and lost the front. I thought it was just because I was pushing but the next corner the same thing happened and from that moment it was really difficult . Each time I was in a right-hander I couldn’t turn but that wasn’t my only issue today. After about ten laps I got really bad arm pump. I’ve got no upper body strength with the rib injury from Catalunya, so to compensate I was doing everything with my arms and at one stage, the combination of the two issues meant I thought I was going to have to pull in. It was a case of gritting my teeth and getting some points but we’ll analyse what happened because Ben (Spies) won the race on the soft front tyre. Our bike isn’t set-up completely different, so we’ll have to talk to Bridgestone, but hats off to Ben because he’s done an awesome job all weekend and rode a great race.”
Cal Crutchlow / Position 14th – Time -2 laps / “Looking at the positives I got a fantastic start and for the first few laps I was running close to the front in a MotoGP race for the first time. I felt confident I could keep Valentino behind me but then after about five or six laps I started struggling with the front tyre on the right side. I had no choice but to come in and change it because if I had carried on pushing it was going to be easy to crash and that’s the last thing I need to be doing at the moment. Having only had surgery on my left collarbone just over a week ago I just couldn’t afford to have another crash. Without that I’ve no doubt I’d have finished fourth but I’ve proved again I’ve got the speed and shown that I can race with the best in this class. It wasn’t the final result we wanted but I can’t change it and I still learned a lot, so now I’m concentrating on Mugello and getting a good result there.”
Hervé Poncharal / Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
“It was a brilliant start for both Cal and Colin and at that moment, after the incident between Simoncelli and Lorenzo, I was thinking that they could fin ish with a really strong Team result. The lap time was looking good from both of them and we were hoping they could finish inside the top six together for the first time this season. But suddenly we saw the lap time of Cal drop a lot and he came to the pit where we found out that the right side of his soft front tyre was completely finished. So he left the pit again with a hard compound, but of course his race was finished, though I want to thank him for going back and pushing to his maximum for the Team. It was only a few laps later also Colin’s pace went down. He managed to defend seventh position but by the end he was very slow with the same problem as Cal. Unfortunately that is racing and in those conditions you have to take a bit of a gamble, as we almost had no proper dry time on the track. Finally I’d like to say congratulations to Yamaha and Ben. This weekend was huge for Yamaha being its 50th anniversary celebrations and for Ben to win was the perfect way to finish the weekend.”
– HRC Report
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) increased his MotoGP World Championship points lead with a measured second place finish to maiden MotoGP winner Ben Spies (Yamaha) in front of a Saturday crowd of 92,150 at the Dutch TT in Assen, Holland. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) finished third.
Stoner slotted into second place on the second of 26 laps and pressed the Texan from the eighth to the 11th laps, cutting into his lead. Then the Australian felt discomfort in his shoulder in the crucial left hand corners and saw his progress blunted. Once the 11th lap ended Spies opened the gap and Stoner made the tactical decision to protect second, which he did, and continue his record of a podium finish in every race he’s completed this year.
It adds up to Stoner holding a 28 point lead, 136 to 108, over Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) after seven of 18 races. Lorenzo finished sixth after getting knocked down by pole-sitter Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) on the first lap. Dovizioso is now a strong third with 99 points.
Dovizioso was hopeful of using the harder front tyre option, but with the track temperature at a chilly 16C he had to go for the softer one. In pursuit of Stoner, Dovi had a few front-end slides, which prevented him from pushing harder. There were further complications with the rear tyre, which developed a vibration about 15 laps into the 26-lap race. At the time he was being pursued by Valentino Rossi (Ducati), but Dovi was confident that he could maintain the cushion on his fellow Italian, which he did, and finished on the podium for the third time in the last four races.
Simoncelli was ahead of Lorenzo when he lost the rear end of his Honda RC212V in de Strubben, the first left hand corner. Getting heat in the left side of the tyres was a point of discussion all weekend, with several riders falling victim to the cold and wet conditions in the track’s few left-handers. Both Lorenzo and Simoncelli remounted, with Simoncelli salvaging a ninth place finish.
The Italian was remorseful and apologetic, and admitted that he was aware that he should have been more careful with his tyres on the first lap. The crash happened near the exit of the corner and before Simoncelli was on the gas.
Hiroshi Aoyama finished one place ahead of Simoncelli while riding the Repsol Honda RC212V in place of the injured Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa, who is recovering from collarbone surgery, is expected to return for next week’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello in eight days time.
Aoyama was riding in pain from a Friday morning practice crash, which cost him valuable set-up time on the factory machine. It took the Japanese star until mid-race to find his rhythm and some consistent times. In the final few laps he was taking seconds out of the lead of the rider in front of him before running out of time. Aoyama finished eighth, grateful for the chance to ride Pedrosa’s bike, which he said made him a better rider.
Honda’s Japanese test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi was 13th aboard the second San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V.
Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol, Suter) moved to second in the Moto2 World Championship after rebounding from a disastrous race at Silverstone by winning his second race of the year, while championship leader Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer, Kalex) was one of many riders to fall victim to difficult conditions.
Marquez was part of a quartet that established themselves at the front in a race that began on a wet track in a very light rain, with a racing line that continued to dry out and widen with each successive lap.
Marquez was joined at the front by Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3), Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP, Suter) and Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Moto2 Racing, Moriwaki). The race was filled with tension, as the top three continuously swapped positions while riding the tightrope of the dry racing line.
Takahashi took himself out of podium contention when he crashed out of second five laps from the end, leaving the podium positions to be decided among Marquez, Smith, and Sofuoglu. Marquez had taken the lead from Sofuoglu on the 17th of 24 laps and broke his pursuers on lap 20 when he increased his lead from .282s to 1.505s. The lead continued to grow with Marquez winning his second race of the year by 2.397s.
Sofuoglu passed Smith on lap 21 and quickly pulled away, the young Brit deciding to bring home 16 points and add this podium to the one in his previous home race at Silverstone. Sofuoglu had previously won twice in World Supersport in Assen, first in 2006 and again in 2007, both times on a Honda CBR600RR.
Rain specialist Anthony West (MZ Racing Team, MZ-RE Honda), who the 250cc race here in 2003, was alone in fourth place.
Despite not finishing for the first time this season, Bradl enjoys a 57 point lead going into next week’s eighth round of the championship at Mugello. He has 127 to 70 for Marquez, who jumped from eighth to second in the points. Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project, FTR), was previously second in points, finished 14th and dropped to third in the championship with 67 points.
The teams now drive from northern Europe to southern Europe for the eighth round of the MotoGP World Championship at the Mugello circuit next weekend.
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 2nd – “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 (Spies). 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.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 3rd – “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. This choice influenced my race because when I tried to stay with Casey (Stoner), 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 (Rossi), I rode more carefully to secure the third position. 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 (Lorenzo) and consolidated third position in the championship. I look forward to Mugello next week, the track is fantastic and the spectators are amazing.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 8th – “First of all I’d like to thank the whole Repsol Honda team and HRC, and I’m sorry for the accident yesterday. It was quite a tough weekend due to the conditions and situation, not ideal to go racing in, but we couldn’t do anything about this. We tried our best during this short space of time and I’m happy I enjoyed the race, even if in a lot of pain after yesterday’s crash. In the race it was quite tough, but from mid-race I was able to improve lap by lap and achieve good consistency. The team did a very good job so thanks again to them as I have had a very nice and special experience riding Dani’s (Pedrosa) bike. This experience has taught me things and made me a better rider, I hope one day I can return to this team. Dani will return next race and I am sure he will be happy to be back on his bike.”
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 9th – “In this race you can’t put it all down to bad luck, but the truth is that I was very naive. It was the first left-hander, the asphalt was cold and, although I don’t think that I went in too hard to get past Lorenzo, I felt that I couldn’t hold back because I was third and close to the front two. There was time though, and I could have waited. I am unhappy to have caught Lorenzo up in my crash and can only apologise to him. The only consolation, small as it is, is that I was able to pick the bike up and finish the race and put down some good times – despite having parts and pegs missing from the bike and the back of my helmet digging in. It is another bad experience for me and I am going to try and bear it in mind, without losing focus and motivation.”
Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 10th – “Well, as I said many times already this is not the position I was dreaming, but considering the rear grip issues and these difficult asphalt conditions I am very satisfied about this race. I took another good start from the last row finishing the first lap in ninth position. Suddenly (Karel) Abraham crashed in front of me and I risked crashing into him, so I lost a couple of seconds there. If the race would have been wet I could fight for a better position, but I cannot complain now. We still have many things to adjust in the dry and we will see what the weather is going to be in Mugello.”
Kousuke Akiyoshi, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 13th “For me it was a fantastic experience and thank you all, that HRC has given me this opportunity and the boys of Team San Carlo Honda Gresini with whom I have worked very well.”
– Ducati Report
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden earned fourth and fifth places, respectively, in the Dutch TT on a day marked by difficult weather conditions, with cold temperatures resulting in a number of early crashes.
The warm-up session was wet, but the track began to dry out before the race, and the MotoGP riders changed their setups on the grid and replaced their rain tyres with slicks.
Valentino Rossi quickly advanced from eleventh position to fourth, thanks to a strong start and a good feeling with his bike, while Hayden posted his best dry result of the season.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 4th / “We’re pretty satisfied with this result because compared to practice, we made a big improvement in the race. It would have been nice had we found the right direction more quickly, but this is a new bike that we’re still learning to work with, so obviously it takes some experience to get it right. In the end, we managed to find a setup that allowed me to ride pretty well but, not having tried it before, I approached the first laps very carefully. To be honest, we were also a little unlucky, because the rain during the warm-up prevented us from trying the changes. Anyway, the weekend was positive overall, because we got confirmation that this bike is better in many ways, especially with regard to the rear end, which is now much more stable. On the other hand, we also know that we must keep working because we still have a gap to the competition to make up. It’s not as big as the time we lost today in terms of seconds, but it’s still there. Still, we’re all trying really hard, and we must continue to do so.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 5th / “Conditions have been all over the place all weekend, and the race wasn’t any different. We went out with a rain setup, but we saw that it was drying quickly and changed to a complete dry setup on the grid. There were a couple of little wet patches early on, but it was okay. We made a small change for the race, but nothing big. The first lap or two, the tyres heated up and I felt really good. Then I made a couple of early mistakes. I touched a white line and also pushed the front once and had to go straight at the chicane. Colin passed me, and then I managed to drag him back. I can’t celebrate fifth place too much, but it’s my best dry result of the year and puts us fifth in the points. Congratulations to Ben, who’s a fellow American. I wish it was me, but he and his team deserve it.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager) / “I think we got a good team result today with both Vale and Nicky. With Valentino we went into the race with a different setup than what he used in practice, without being able to confirm it in the warm-up, which was made useless by the rain. It was a calculated risk for Valentino and the team, but it proved to be the right choice, as it paid off with a good result considering the problems in practice. Nicky also had a nice race, as it would have been really easy to make a mistake today. He’s doing a good job and working hard, as always, and he brought home some good points to put him fifth in the championship. We still have to work to improve because we want to take another step forward as soon as possible.”
– Suzuki Report
Álvaro Bautista battled against the cold and unpredictable conditions at Assen in The Netherlands today to bring his Rizla Suzuki home safely in a points-scoring 11th place.
Bautista had struggled all weekend to find the rear grip to be competitive at the 4,542m Dutch circuit and with air temperatures only getting up to 14ºC – allied to a strong wind that cooled the track even more – this afternoon was always going to be an uphill battle for the smooth-riding Spaniard. Bautista got a good start and was up to 10th from his 14th place on the grid by the end of lap two. He stayed in that position right up until the last few laps before being passed as the race came to a conclusion and had to settle for 11th at the end of 26 difficult laps.
Despite the chilly conditions and the continuous threat of rain at the Assen circuit, over 92,000 fans braved the wintry conditions. The race was eventually won by Ben Spies on a Yamaha to secure his first MotoGP victory. Casey Stoner still leads the championship after finishing second.
Rizla Suzuki now heads south to Italy for the next round of the MotoGP World Championship, as it travels to Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix next Sunday hoping for much better weather in the Tuscan hillsides.
Álvaro Bautista: “There was no big change in the race from the practice sessions, I still struggled for grip and found it hard to push. For the start of the race we went with the slick tyres, even though it was a little bit wet on the back of the track, but this was the best decision as the threatened rain never came. From the beginning to the end I never had a good feeling on the bike and it was always the same problem for the whole weekend – rear grip was nothing and entering the corners was very difficult. During the race I tried to push to get into the top-10, but each corner seemed very risky and it felt like the tyre was on ice sometimes! Anyway, I’m looking forward to Mugello – hotter temperatures, a great track and we can do much better there. ”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “Today has been a very difficult race to top-off a disappointing weekend. It could have been worse, in that Álvaro kept it on two wheels and brought the bike home safely – unlike many unfortunate riders this weekend. The conditions in yesterday’s qualifying were a bit warmer, but in the extremely cold and drizzly conditions this afternoon it seemed to cost us a lot more in contact feel, grip and confidence for the rider than it did for some of the other guys. Álvaro is looking forward to a much better situation in Mugello next weekend, but the combination of bike, rider and riding style simply didn’t put anywhere near enough energy into the rear tyre to give us the grip we needed today. The control tyre situation has a lot of positives, but on occasions like today – when even the softer of the two tyres is way too hard for our rider – it makes it impossible to compete.”
– Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Ben Spies took his first MotoGP victory in fine style today at Assen, controlling the race from the front to romp to an eventual 7.7second lead over second-placed Casey Stoner and his Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
The weather had been overcast all day and rain meant that the 125cc and Moto2 races were both wet, but by the start of the MotoGP race the conditions had become sufficiently dry for slick tyres, although the skies remained overcast. In the cool and slippery conditions, every rider on the grid opted for the softer specification front and rear slicks apart from Marco Simoncelli and Karel Abraham who used the harder option front.
With the track barely damp by the start of the race, the initial lap was always going to be crucial but several riders fell foul of the conditions. Abraham and Randy de Puniet retired in separate incidents, whilst Marco Simoncelli got caught out exiting turn five and took Jorge Lorenzo into the gravel with him although both restarted.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department / “This is a fantastic win for Ben, especially during Yamaha’s 50th anniversary celebrations, so I’d like to congratulate his team and Yamaha for their performance today. He becomes the tenth rider to have taken a premier class win on Bridgestone tyres and it is good to have a new race winner in MotoGP. It was a very tricky weekend for riders but also for our tyres. All season the temperature at races seems to be significantly lower than last year, and with the effect of rain over the last three days the track condition was very slippery and off-line it was still damp so today many riders used the softer slicks for improved warm-up.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division / “The conditions today were cold and damp in places which meant that almost all riders used the softer option front and rear slicks. The soft compound front was used for its improved warm-up performance and grip with the low temperature, but the compromise of this means that tyre wear was therefore higher. Some riders experienced some graining of the front tyre, including Cal who opted to return to the pits for a fresh soft front slick. Generally, as Ben showed, rear tyre performance was ok today, even on the left side, although a few riders got caught out on the first lap. Andrea reported a vibration from the rear of his bike but investigation shows that this didn’t have anything to do with the rear tyre but may have been the effect he felt of graining on the right side of the front tyre.”
Ben Spies – Yamaha Factory Racing – Race Winner / “It’s a special win – this is the biggest win for me and as good as it gets. This track is a track I grew up watching my heroes race on, and with this one being the 50th anniversary of Yamaha and with the special colours and all the legends watching, it all came together. The race went extremely well for us. It was tough in some ways but easy in others as it was good to be in a good rhythm where I could set my pace. We used the softer front tyre, which I never do, because of the conditions but we had to be cautious. It was damp off-line but we just had to be smart about it. We were able to get into the rhythm quickly this time, and it was a fun race.”
— Moto 2
Reigning 125cc Champion Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) took his second Moto2 victory of his debut season in tricky conditions at the Iveco TT Assen, climbing 6 places in the Championship to put him second in the standings. The 18 year old finished in front of Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP) in second, the Turkish rider’s first podium of the season, and Bradley Smith (Tech 3) in third.
Both Sofuoglu and Smith lead 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 4 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 so far. The Australian was chased by Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) in fifth and Mattia Pasini (Ioda Racing Project) in sixth, who welcomed the top ten finish after his DNF in the last round at Silverstone. Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing) and Max Neukirchner (MZ Racing) completed the top ten.
As the track began to dry the rain tyres started to wear and it became clear that the matter of staying upright was affected by the fast degrading tyres. The end of the race produced a number of crashes, including Championship leader Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), who fell in the chicane with 3 laps to go, failing to finish a race for the first time this season and seeing his Championship lead narrowed slightly. It was not a good day for Gresini Racing Moto2 team, as Michele Pirro followed his team mate Takahashi and crashed on the last lap.
Marc Marquez, Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol – Suter: race winner “I’m so happy for this victory, especially in those conditions, because it’s so difficult. Always in rain conditions, I never get that feeling, but step-by-step the team help me a lot. I need to say thanks to them, because without them for sure, for me this level would be impossible. I’m happy for that race. Was very long. Was hard in the end. It rained a little bit more and the tyre looked destroyed, but now I saw the tyre it was completely new, but my feeling was completely destroyed because it slides quite a lot. But step-by-step, we improve my riding style for sure in some points. I need to improve, but I’m happy after Silverstone because of this result and now we will see in Mugello. But this victory is for my team.”
Kenan Sofuoglu, Technomag-CIP-Suter: 2nd “It was really hard race, but for me was important to make a podium, because we had a really difficult time at the beginning of the year. We really couldn’t find a way. But finally the last few races we improve a lot. And I’m really happy at the moment at making the podium, because Assen is a special track. I did many races, I win many times, but this time was enough to get a podium because this is a first grand prix podium. And I was a little bit careful, especially the last part. But it was nice. I want to say a really big thanks to my team, because it was really needed, because everybody was losing motivation the last few races. But I’m really happy now. Now we are going to Mugello and I believe this will be the beginning of my career again in GP class, because I was really coming from different championships. It’s really difficult here. Maybe not the level, the life is different here and I’m starting to get used to it. I hope the last part of the year I will be very strong.”
Bradley Smith, Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3: 3rd “Crikey, it was really hard work out there, just with the variable conditions. Assen dries so quickly, so at the start of the race I felt real comfortable, especially on the wet track. As it started to dry I started to suffer a little bit. The line went from about that wide and got bigger and bigger. I think we were a little bit too soft for those type of conditions. And then especially when it started to rain again and I had a chance of a podium, I just did the sensible thing and bring 16 points. But big thanks to the team and, yeah, it’s nice to stand on the podium, especially twice now. This morning in warm-up gave me the feeling that I needed. We’ve improved the bike an awful lot in the wet and now we proved that we can be second in the dry and now I definitely look forward to going to Mugello, so all good things.”
Maverick Viñales charged to his second victory of 2011 at the Iveco TT Assen, pulling a 2 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 way from the field of the 125cc riders, after a thrilling start saw a group of 8 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.
The start of the race saw Sergio Gadea charge into the lead in the first corner and ride an aggressive race, making some astonishing passes through the chicane and trading places with the two Derbis of Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) and Efrén Vázquez. Gadea finally finished third when rain produced the red flag and called the race at lap 15. As two thirds of the race distance had been covered, full points awarded as of positions on lap 14.
Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) battled with Cortese and Gadea, making a pass on Gadea just in time to place second in the race. Cortese ended in fourth, followed by Zarco in fifth, Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) in sixth and Vázquez in seventh.
Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) was in the lead pack until he had a big moment in turn one, finishing the race in eighth position, in front of Marcel Schrötter (Mahindra Racing) in ninth and Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) in tenth.
— Red Bull Rookies Race Two
Arthur Sissis, the 16 year old Australian turned the tables on 14 year old Italian Lorenzo Baldassarri with a fine last corner win to claim his third victory of this year’s Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Florian Alt, the 15 year old German, took a superb 3rd as typical Assen weather once again played a major part in the result of the Dutch TT round.
Looming black clouds and a sprinkling of rain prompting a start on wet tyres although the track was only damp. Pole man James Flitcroft shot into an early lead but from the 4th row of the grid Sissis was up the inside and into 2nd place at the first corner. Baldassarri was there as well and both had passed 15 year old Briton Flitcroft before the end of the first lap.
The rain held off and the drying track soon started to shred the tyres as Flitcroft went with Baldassarri and Sissis, pulling away from the pack. The pace was getting quicker and quicker, both with the drying track and the riders getting used to the grip limits of the rain tyres in the unusual circumstances.
Flitcroft was dropped by the Sissis and Baldassarri and started to be overhauled by what built into an 8 man battle for 4th place. Coming through that pack from his 18th place start was Alt. His impressive progress became stunning as he broke clear of the pack on lap 5 and set his sights on Flitcroft.
Alt became the fastest man on the track, he shot past Flitcroft on lap 7 and though he was 4 seconds behind the leaders he was clearly running a pace that would see him battling for the lead well before the end of the 14 lap race.
By lap 10 he was with them and his speed carried him straight past and into the lead. That was the end of the faster laps as everyone’s tyres were shredded. Sissis and Baldassarri responded to Alt’s attack and got back in front of the young German. By the last lap the Australian and the Italian had got enough of an advantage to make it fight between them for the win.
“My heart was racing so much on the last lap,” said Sissis. “It was such a great race, I’d tried to get away but Lorenzo was always there, after about 4 laps the tyres were shredded.. Then I couldn’t believe it when Alt passed us both and that made it more complicated. We got away from him but I knew that Lorenzo was the big problem. He was in front on the last lap, I’d got it wrong yesterday so I went the other side and passed him on the brakes going down to the chicane, I didn’t know if the front was going to hold up on the brakes, I think my heart stopped, I just explain the feeling going into the last corner.”
The front held up but the rear slid and that sealed the win for Sissis as Baldassarri was forced to back off fractionally as Sissis had a small slide right in front of him. Alt was a superb 3rd and thrilled with his first podium. “I really had great confidence in the tyres in these conditions and I thought I could do a great race. It was hard work to come from 18th but when I got away from the pack and could see the leaders I just went for it, I gave it full gas, I was so determined.”
“I had used the tyres so hard catching them that they were completely destroyed at the end,” explained Alt. “The bike was sliding so much I realised that 3rd place was a good result today and better than crashing trying too hard on the last lap.”
Baldassarri as usual made no excuses. “It was another great race, a lot of fun. I was in front on the last lap but Sissis was later on the brakes coming down to the last corner, he did a great job. Still I enjoyed this weekend and I am looking forward to my home race at Mugello next week.”
Disaster overtook Flitcroft at that final turn as he lost the front on the brakes taking out Brad Binder and Joakim Niemi from the middle of that 4th place pack. It was Alan Techer who took 4th from Xavi Pinsach, Tomas Vavrous, Scott Deroue and Stefano Valtulini.
Sissis now has a 5 point advantage over Baldassarri with 6 races remaining in the season.
Race 2 Classification
1. Arthur Sissis (AUS)
2. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) +0.222
3. Florian Alt (GER) +1.425
4. Alan Techer (FRA) +7.081
5. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +7.393
6. Tomas Vavrous (CZE) Red +7.609
7. Scott Deroue (NED) +05 8.703
8. Stefano Valtulini (ITA) +8.959
9. Philipp Oettl (GER) +10.542