Monday, June 27, 2011

Stoner Increases Points Lead At Assen

Press Release:

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 (SanCarlo 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.

MotoGP rider quotes

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.?

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 Lorenzoup 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.?

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