Round seven of the FIM MotoGP World Championship took place in Assen, Netherlands this past weekend, packed with race incidents, tire issues and a championship points upset.
Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo quickly saw his championship points lead vanish when San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista took him out in the first corner of the race, putting an early end to the race for both contenders. The incident was later put under Race Direction and Bautista will be starting round eight at Sachsenring from the back of the grid, a penalty not harsh enough according to an infuriated Lorenzo, who eventually made up with Bautista and accepted his fellow countryman’s apology. A sincere Bautista stated publicly, “I’m so sorry for him because this is a race incident and for sure I don’t want to make that mistake…I’m so sorry because it was good chance for him to have more distance in the championship and he lost everything now. Anyway, I try not to make (this mistake) in the future and this is my first time in all my years here in the world championship, and I’m so sorry for that.”
Meanwhile, it was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who got away with the holeshot and led the majority of the race, with teammate Casey Stoner hot on his heals. Trailing in third position was Factory Yamaha’s Ben Spies, trying to keep the Honda’s in his sights for most of the race.
Two laps into the 26-lap race, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl crashed out of fourth position, making this the first race the rookie, who had started on the second row, was not able to finish a MotoGP race. Meanwhile, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden had run into the gravel in the last corner, but managed to wrestle his bike back on track.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso began to close in on Ben Spies, and with 19 laps remaining made the pass on the Factory Yamaha rider to move into 3rd position. The two riders battled hard but in the end it was Dovizioso who came out on top with a last lap move as Spies fell viction to rear tire issues. According to Spies, “About the last 7-8 laps we were going to push and try to get away but we threw one chunk out of the tire and I could feel it vibrating but I still carried on and then the second chunk came out and I couldn’t do anything. I looked back at him (Dovizioso) a couple of times hoping he would pass me because I was afraid the tire was going to explode and I didn’t want to be on the ground right in front of him.”
Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow finished in fifth place after he spent much of the race in 9th position struggling to get around the Ducatis of Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi and Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards retired with mechanical issues, while Valentino Rossi was forced to retire to the pits when he noticed a chunk of his rear tire missing. The Ducati rider would re-enter the race with a new tire and finish one-lap down in 13th position.
In the end it was defending World Champion Casey Stoner who took the checkered flag to go equal on points at the top of the championship with Lorenzo, as Pedrosa finished second and Dovizioso rounded out the podium in third.
The next round of the FIM MotoGP World Championship takes place at Sachsenring, Germany from July 6-8, 2012.