Assen MotoGP Insider: Honda

June 26, 2011
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Casey Stoner was 0.290 seconds off the pace of Simoncelli. - Assen qualifying 2011
Honda’s Casey Stoner was pleased with second at Assen after it increased his lead in the championship.

Casey Stoner will probably never be happier to finish second after his lead in the MotoGP world championship increased to a healthy 28 points in Assen. Realizing he didn’t have the pace to match Spies, the Repsol Honda rider settled for 20 valuable points with Lorenzo losing more ground after his incident with Simoncelli. Stoner never seriously threatened Spies as the Texan romped to his first MotoGP success, but the Australian admitted he’d not felt it necessary to take risks knowing that Lorenzo was out of podium contention.

“The way the race unfolded I thought this result is falling into my lap, so let’s not be greedy and take too big a risk and have it all collapse on me,” said Stoner. “I brought it home but Ben was riding so well and so fast and it would have taken a big effort to pull him back. He was running some pretty good times. This was the day to think a lot about the championship. After a first lap incident and with a bad start and to have this result come my way is good for the championship, even though I was going to be there for the fight with Marco and Jorge. After being stuck behind Andrea (Dovizioso) for a lap and half it was a little tough to get everything warmed up. I wanted to go faster, and this held my progress up. I wouldn’t have lost as much ground to Ben and it might have been easier to get on the back of him, but we don’t know what would have happened after that. At the end of the race Ben was really strong and my weakness was kicking in.”

Stoner said he was hindered slightly by injuries he picked up in a heavy crash in Friday morning’s practice session, but said his physical condition wasn’t the prime reason why Spies was unchallenged for the entire 26-lap race.

Hiroshi Aoyama finished eighth at Assen while filling in for the injured Dani Pedrosa with Repsol Honda. - 2011
While filling in for Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, Hiroshi Aoyama earned eighth behind Colin Edwards.

“We lost a big amount of time to Ben in those first laps, and by the time I got into second he had a huge gap and I tried pushing early on and sort of made a few mistakes. Every time I made little mistake the championship would pop up in the back of my mind and I’d just sort of back it off a little bit. Unfortunately, at about halfway through my shoulder started getting pretty tired and I tried not braking quite as hard and carrying a bit more corner speed, but with the soft front tire it couldn’t handle it. So I had to change my riding style. By that time Ben had really got into his rhythm, started pulling some really good lap times and pulling a gap. I kept him under pressure a little bit but I wasn’t going to chase him down.”

Simoncelli took center stage for all the wrong reasons again after he instigated a crash that further dented Lorenzo’s hopes of retaining the MotoGP world title in 2011. Starting from pole position, the San Carlo Gresini Honda was chasing the fast starting Spies when he highsided his RC212V at the fifth corner. With no chance to take evasive action, Lorenzo also tumbled out in the incident and the Spaniard was heavily critical of his Italian rival after he recovered to finish sixth in the 26-lap race.

Simoncelli was also able to remount and salvage ninth, but after his infamous collision with Dani Pedrosa in Le Mans last month, the last thing he needed was to be involved in yet another major talking point.

“In this race you can’t put it all down to bad luck, but the truth is that I was very naïve,” Simoncelli admitted. “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 apologize 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

Hondas Marco Simoncelli claimed his second pole victory at Assen after a close session with Yamahas Ben Spies. - Assen qualifying 2011
Marco Simoncelli: “I haven’t seen him (Lorenzo) and I want to say sorry again that he was involved in my crash, but this is racing.”

in. It is another bad experience for me and I am going to try and bear it in mind, without losing focus and motivation.”
Simoncelli said he hadn’t apologized to Lorenzo in person, and while he was sorry, he also said his mistake was a racing incident.

“I haven’t seen him and I want to say sorry again that he was involved in my crash, but this is racing.”

With Stoner finishing second, Lorenzo now trails the Aussie by 28points after seven rounds of the 2011 world championship.