Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner (1) got back to his winning ways at Assen, benefiting from the first corner havoc wreaked by Alvaro Bautista, who took out points leader Jorge Lorenzo.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner took his third MotoGP
victory of the season at the Assen TT. The reigning champion beat teammate Dani Pedrosa for the checkers and pulls dead even in the points as his championship rival Jorge Lorenzo surrendered his points advantage after crashing out on the first lap. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso beat factory rival Ben Spies for third, with the second satellite Yamaha, Cal Crutchlow, rounding out the top five.
The big news at Assen happened early, as Lorenzo’s championship lead evaporated in the first corner. Alvaro Bautista caused the carnage, charging in too hot from the inside, losing control of his Gresini Honda and collecting Lorenzo as collateral damage.
With the points leader out, Pedrosa ran up front followed by pole position starter Stoner with Spies chasing the Repsols. Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso tailed Spies. Meanwhile Cal Crutchlow had to recover from rotten luck at the start, the Brit having to evade the Bautista/Lorenzo tangle in Turn 1, losing several positions.
Turning laps comparable to the leaders, Crutchlow had to get around three Ducatis: Nicky Hayden, Hector Barbera and Valentino Rossi
. The running order of the Ducs shuffled, while Crutchlow had to make up another gap after running off track. The satellite Yamaha man first worked around Barbera, and then Rossi before tracking down and dispatching Hayden with 12 to go.
Andrea Dovizioso and Ben Spies battled for podium position with the Satellite Yamaha rider taking third.
Up front Stoner was content to bide his time behind his Spanish teammate, with the reigning champ moving into the lead with 10 to go. Once up front Stoner worked out a steady advantage, leading Pedrosa to the line by almost five seconds for a 1-2 Repsol finish.
The front positions sorted out, the best battle came over third, where Spies had his hands full with Dovizioso. The two swapped positions, with Spies holding the lead for most of the race. However, Dovi stalked the factory rider down and took the third spot on the last lap. The Tech 3 satellite rider is keen to take the American’s factory seat in 2013 as well.
Rossi had another terrible showing on the Ducati. Having chunked his rear tire around the halfway mark #46 pulled off the racing line, raised his hand and dropped back behind the CRT field. The nine-time world champion pulled into the pits for a new rear tire, but with all the attrition, Rossi was only able to emerge and collect a point in 13th.
The results sheet was littered with DNFs, Lorenzo and Bautista were joined in short order by crashes to LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Yonny Hernandez. Colin Edwards pulled into the pits with technical issues, as did Aleix Espargaro. Cardion AB rider Karel Abraham did not race, owing to injury.
Stoner's win and Lorenzo's misfortune make the 2012 title dead even, though Lorenzo holds a tie-breaker advantage with four victories. The two front-runners in the championship enjoy a 19-point lead over Pedrosa, who is still winless in 2012. Dovizioso nearly pulls even with Crutchlow, who is fourth overall.
Crutchlow had a bad start, getting mixed in the early race turmoil, and had to battle from behind in the pack.
"It was a tough race, I had a lot of arm pump as I had to compensate for my injuries from the crash yesterday," said Stoner in a Repsol team press release, "but my fitness was good and the bike was working well in general. I'm sorry for Jorge [Lorenzo], nobody wants to take points over a competitor in this manner, but as we can see, one race can change everything"
The always quotable Crutchlow, whose race was also affected by the Bautista crash, did not mince words in a post race interview on MotoGP.com. Having been held up in the first corner melee, Crutchlow said: “I haven’t got a good start all year, and then I finally get one and some d**khead through the first corner decides that he’s going to be a bandit – the same as last year. He could have wrecked everybody’s season, career… At the end of the day, we all make mistakes, but he was still changing gear when we were all braking, so maybe he needs to open his eyes.”
The MotoGP paddock now heads directly to Sachsenring for Round 8 of the championship, with three consecutive Grand Prix ending with Round 9 at Mugello.
2012 MotoGP Assen TT Results:
The field at Assen before the Lap 1 fiasco which took championship points leader Jorge Lorenzo out of the contest.
1. Casey Stoner (Honda)
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha)
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
7. Hector Barbera (Ducati)
8. Randy de Puniet (Aspar)
9. Michele Pirro (Gresini)
10. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master)
11. D. Petrucci (IodaRacing)
12. Ivan Silva (Avintia)
13. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)
14. James Ellison (PBM)
DNF Aleix Espargaro (Aspar)
DNF Colin Edwards (Forward)
DNF Yonny Edwards (Avintia)
DNF Stefan Bradl (Honda)
DNF Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
DNF Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
DNR Karel Abraham (Ducati)
2012 MotoGP Points:
1. Jorge Lorenzo, 140
2. Casey Stoner, 140
3. Dani Pedrosa, 121
4. Cal Crutchlow, 77
5. Andrea Dovizioso, 76
6. Valentino Rossi, 61
7. Nicky Hayden, 59
8. Alvaro Bautista, 58
9. Stefan Bradl, 51
10. Ben Spies, 48