MotoGP: Assen Assen They All Fall Down

06/30/2012 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

With the Dutch weather improving from the scattered rains of Friday, to just a grey gloom for Saturdays’ Dutch TT, MotoGP had a cool, but dry race day in Holland. This would bode well for the Hondas, who gambled on the tire selection, going with the softer of the two compounds available from Bridgestone, while the Yamahas played a more conservative game on the harder compound (Ducati chose the lesser of its two evils, opting for the harder compounding, though knowing it wouldn’t last the race).

As the premier-class headed into three back-to-back races, the bids for the 2012 MotoGP Championship were certain to get heated at Assen, the first of the three stops. Sitting on pole was Casey Stoner, who put in a fantastic exhibition of speed during the closing minutes of Friday’s qualifying. Despite Stoner’s performance, teammate Dani Pedrosa and Championship-rival Jorge Lorenzo couldn’t be counted out from the hunt either.

With Alvaro Bautista sitting fourth on the grid, the satellite Honda rider has found a new form in the past two races, and of course the battle between the three remaining Hondas has been entertaining to watch, as they fight for the last remaining factory seat at Yamaha Racing for the 2013 season and onwards. So as the lights went out, and the riders headed into Turn 1 at Assen, the Dutch track revealed the next chapter of our MotoGP saga.

It was Pedrosa who took the lead going into the first turn, but it was Bautista who stole the show at the first corner. Entering Turn 1 hot and on the brakes, the Spaniard lost the front end of his San Carlo Gresini Honda, taking out the former-World Champion in the process. With Crutchlow having to enter the gravel to avoid Bautista and Lorenzo, much of the race’s outcome was sadly determined by the incident.

This left Pedrosa and Stoner to runaway with the race, as the Australian mirrored the Spaniards every move down the track. Following in third was Ben Spies, who found Andrea Dovizioso close behind, with Stefan Bradl, Nicky Hayden, and Valentino Rossi trailing. Up front Stoner let Pedrosa do the heavy lifting with only a hair’s breathe separating the two riders, until 10 laps remained and the Australian made his move past his teammate, putting the hammer down until the finish line.

While Pedrosa and Stoner battled, the last step on the podium also become a point of contention, with the two anglophone Yamaha riders making moves on each other until the last remaining laps. Complaining of tire chunking, Spies saw Dovi go past, and didn’t respond to the Italian’s pass, expecting his tire to explode at any moment. This makes the race outcome another chapter in the bad luck book of Spies this season, and losing out to Dovizioso in the process is not helping the American one iota.

The battle for fifth was tightly contested by the Ducatis (sans Karel Abraham who was a DNS because of his hand injury), as well as Cal Crutchlow who had made his way back from the rear of the field. With Nicky Hayden the fastest of the Italian bikes, Rossi would have to wave the white flag, as he too was having tire issues. Coming into the pits, with 10 laps remaining, the Ducati Corse crew put a fresh tire on Rossi’s bike so the nine-time World Champion could salvage some points from the weekend.

With Crutchlow getting past Hayden and Barbara, the Honey Badger finished a comfortable fifth, while Hayden eased his way past Barbara, who was having tremendous issues with his machine, as well as his tires. With a bevy of riders finding the tarmac, the Dutch TT became a race of attrition, and while it may not have been the show fans wanted to watch, it should prove to have a significant impact on the 2012 Championship.

With today’s result, Stoner and Lorenzo are now tied in the Championship points standings. That tie-breaker will come soon enough though, as MotoGP returns next weekend with the German GP at Sachsenring.

Race Results from the Dutch TT at Assen, The Netherlands:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 41’19.855
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +4.965
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +11.994
4 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +14.775
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +22.074
6 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +31.660
7 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati +59.107
8 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’04.441
9 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR +1’06.980
10 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART +1’25.087
11 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda +1’32.103
12 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR +1’33.797
13 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1 Lap
14 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 1 Lap
Not Classified
Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 12 Laps
Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 19 Laps
Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 21 Laps
Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 25 Laps
Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 0 Lap
Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 0 Lap
Not Starting
Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 0 Lap

Source: MotoGP; Photo: HRC

  • Darek

    Reigning world champion got taken out??

  • MikeD

    GO STONER ! Get out this year with a BANG !

  • Steve Lang

    Is it true Bautista was heard yelling, “BONZAI” as he entered turn one?

  • Westward

    This is the exact reason Yamaha should attempt to regain Rossi, and field three or four factory machines. Honda is at least a little smarter for having three on the grid.

    As new rule; if the pilot riding for one factory takes out another pilot from a different factory, then the offending factories racing effort gets a deduction of 5 points to all participating pilots that finish the race. This penalty would not be enforced if their leading pilot in the championship from the same racing effort was taken down as well…

    One caveat would be, if a given factory does not have a pilot within 30 points of the championship title lead with a pilot from the other factory, then it is considered a normal race incident, and no points are deducted…

    That way, these playstation antics would be less likely to occur.

    Between Rossi and Lorenzo, Yamaha would insure that barring catastrophe, one of them would surely win the title…

    However, I hear Marquez has a preference for Rossi being his teammate at HRC in 2013…

  • Woody

    Wow, that post is full of all sorts or really dumb ideas and misinformed opinions. Honda has only two factory bikes, and shit happens when you ride bikes at the limit, so no one should take a hit for a race incident outside of those involved.

  • Westward

    Alvaro Bautista is piloting the factory spec bike that was meant for Simoncelli with Gresini colours, As Marco was on a factory Honda last year as well, and HRC ran four full factory machines, Stoner, Pedrosa, Dovi at Repsol, and Marco at Gresini… So that it is clear, Bautista is not riding a satellite bike, though he is on a satellite team…

    What’s to stop a manufacturer from sending a Kamikaze to take out the competition..?

    It is one thing for a racing incident that involves two HRC bikes like last year with Dani & Marco, or Gibernau taking out his teammate at Catalunya in 2006 that brought down a whole host of pilots.

    Last year, it would have been a stretch of the imagination to think that Rossi on a Ducati, would torpedo Stoner on a Honda, for the sake of Lorenzo on the Yamaha…

    The outcome at Assen today was a little too convenient for HRC…

    Besides, it would have seemed a little obvious for Pedrosa to go bonsai, besides he still has an outside chance at the title.

    Understand I am not saying their was a conspiracy to take down Lorenzo. But a preventative measure to insure that is does not occur should be in place.

    What difference does penalizing Bautista do, if Stoner is the ultimate beneficiary of his actions…

  • Rick65

    Isn’t a bonsai a Japanese technique for creating very small ornamental trees?
    Isn’t Bautista’s bike a satellite bike in a satellite team.
    Aren’t unjustified conspiracy theories tiresome.
    Looked like a (very dumb) racing incident to me.

  • howl


    > Isn’t a bonsai a Japanese technique for creating very small ornamental trees?
    Yes? @Steve Lang you were close, its “Banzai”.

    > Isn’t Bautista’s bike a satellite bike in a satellite team.
    Yes again? @Westward is right though, they did have a factory spec bike last year. Same chassis and engine step so technically a “factory spec” bike. Not sure if that’s true this year though.

    > Aren’t unjustified conspiracy theories tiresome.
    Not really…its definitely possible. Look at formula one and what renault did at the singapore gp.

    > Looked like a (very dumb) racing incident to me.

  • JoeD

    Good race for all despite the crash. Although many factors affect the outcome of a race, seems to me Bridgstone should be the one fined. The front let go for several riders and the rears have not been able to hold up for the Ducati power level. Spies with the crossplane Yammy (Similar power characteristics) had rear issues as well. Nick fought valiantly with a predictable result-tire meltdown. I have sampled a lot of tires over 40 years and Bridgstone has never inspired confidence and provided longevity. First set was stock fitment on the 81 GpZ 1100-Switched to Pirelli after 300 miles. Yes, 300 miles. And the customers in the shop shun them as well. Let’s test some Avon skins. Those have been flawless for the Benelli in street trim and are also on the Guzzi Sport 1100. My 2 cents FWIW.

  • pornblog

    fact about bautista bike
    1. one frame step behind(if you count new frame that honda bring for this round= two frame step behind)
    2. difference suspension
    sorry my bad english

  • DarN

    I am usually not the one for conspiracy theories, but this one really makes you wonder. Bautista seems to be a sensible fellow, so what the hell was he doing on the inside of the turn going 20 miles faster than all the guys on the outside…With that angle / speed he could only go straight – there was no turning in the cards for him from the beginning. He does not to seem to be a suicidal type, so I am sure there was no Banzai (meaning ” hail to Ceasar ” in japanese) being yelled inside his helmet. What, then?

  • Laurencio

    I think Bautista got the sweet taste of podium at the motogp level and was eager to get back to the front. It was a moment of poor judgement.

  • John

    Is anyone else wondering what the hell is going on with Bridgestone’s quality control? It seems like bad tires occur with alarming frequency. You’d think they’d do better with spec tires for the world’s premier racing class. Certainly the money they are spending in MotoGP is not helping them sell tires to consumers or club racers.

  • go westward !

  • In fact, that’s the 2nd crash of a similar fashion from Bautista !!

  • Dr. Gellar

    Bautista taking out Lorenzo in the first turn was an idiot maneuver…nothing more.

  • Andreas

    The winning pass from Stoner to Pedrosa is what should be given a second look at.
    Pedrosa went wide – clearly with no intention of defending- and Stoner passed through with what looked like 20km/h more. Pedrosa wasn’t celebrating on the podium.
    Team orders maybe???

  • Calisdad

    No Honda team orders. Stoner toyed with Dani knowing an opportunity would come and he took it after conserving his tires and energy. Not a big fan but it was smart racing.

    I’d say Bautista had a brain fart but I would be understating.

    Bridgestone? I sound like a broken record. Honda is said to have designed their bike with regard to BS tires. (Double meaning intended) I’d like to see the Duc with a bigger (diameter) Michelin. Might be all it needs. Otherwise this is a Japanese Testing Series run with the good graces of Spain.

  • MickyD

    I cant believe that anyone would believe that a rider would put themselves in even more danger of being hurt or even killed just to take out another rider , plain dumb comment , cars are different , you have so much protection for the driver.
    Racers take chances I have done it , many others have done it , most of the time it comes off , this time it didnt …….

  • 76

    Bautistas bike is not factory spec period, that fact that Simocelli had a factory spec bike has absoulutly nothing to do with Bautista and his current ride other than how he got there.

    The “Factory” Honda has a upgraded
    – electronics package (biggest difference)
    – 1 to 2 step ahead chassis (not ness an advantage at this point maybe)
    – Ohlins Suspension
    – Brembo All Round

    – Engine? Anybody can speculate on that one

    Gresini in turn is the only bike let alone Honda to run Showa suspension and Nissin Brakes

    Insinuating that Bautista actually meant to take out Lorenzo is simply delusional, 1 for a rider to be able to target a single bike in that first corner from where he was is quite a tall order, especially considering the method used, sliding and from the inside where you have no idea who is outside of you at that point. 2 a rider would never, ever, come to the conclusion that the best way to take out another rider is in the 1st corner sliding across and infront of the entire field, just not going to happen.

    MotoGP has a couple problems, some bigger than others, riders & factories trying to take each other out during racers by using their bikes as missiles is not one of them.

  • MikeD

    OK…, was the deal with the tires DESINTEGRATING under way ? First they had a tire too hard that lasted too long, right ?

    Now they have gone the opposite way, they can’t last for shit a whole race ? Or did the racer(s) with falling apart tires picked the wrong choice of tire ?

    What was wrong with the previous tire ? No one had the Cojones and HP to put some HEAT on ’em and make them STICK ? ! Never heard of coming apart tires with the previous spec tire.

    Man, MotoGP has truly become a Circus.

  • AD

    Yes big mistake from Bautista, I agree you wouldnt’ think anybody would put themselves nor anybody else at risk with missile manouvers, racing at this level is about trust, with little margin for error. The biggest single problem for Moto GP is control tyres, why are the factories forced to build/modify the bike to suit the tyre?! Before control tyres that rubber manufacturers had to come up with the answer for the bike.

    Drop control tyres!

  • MikeD

    AD says:

    ” why are the factories forced to build/modify the bike to suit the tyre?! Before control tyres that rubber manufacturers had to come up with the answer for the bike. ”

    YUP. what is up with THAT ? ! Screw Bridgestone…let Michelin or any of the other Big Players strut their stuff.

  • Steve Lang

    Bautista seems to have a little history of knocking people down. Remember last year with another of his bonehead moves knocking Hayden, Rossi and DePunet into the kitty litter in the first turn? He’s starting to look like a cross between a lawn dart and a human bowling ball. Somebody needs to take away his Red Bull and give the boy a big cold glass of Spanish Cool Aid before he hurts himself.

  • 76

    Theres a picture of Rossi’s rear floating around on the internet that has massive chunks out of it, looking at it I was impressed that it could still hold air. Tire wear is one thing, massive chunks and delaminating is absolutely crazy. Really there is no excuse for something like that from a control tire, they dont have to compete with anyone? Why would they error on the side of complete tire failure?

    I’m actually for a control tire, I dont want to see someone win because they have the best tire that day. With that said bridgestone has really screwed the fcking pooch with how they have handled their role almost since the took over as the only tire.

  • Dr. Gellar

    Talking about tires….I’m starting to like the idea of going away from control tires. But….things can’t go back to the way they were before, where one brand of tire would slaughter the rest and basically determine which riders would be competitive on any given weekend, as it was in the final days of Bridgestone vs. Dunlop vs. Michelin. That problem was the reason we have a control tire now in the first place.

  • Calisdad

    Does it make any sense to spend as much as they do on bikes and riders and NOT put the best rubber for that bike on the ground? All of us who ride favor a certain tire for our particular ride. If we have more than one bike than we probably use different tires for each. Ohlin suspension is predominately chosen because its the best but anyone can use Showa if they want and some do. Same thing with Brembo brakes. The cost of tires is one of the least expensive things on the bike yet one of the most important. No traction=no podium.

    With the state of things as they are I would think Bridgestone would be glad to be let out of their contract.

  • Westward

    There is a video circulating around the internet, of a british stuntman that leaps out of an airplane wearing a wing suit and no parachute…

    I would not relegate the human capacity to logically or instinctually assess what constitutes as danger, to those who regularly do not confront it…

    Those of us that ride motorcycles in everyday traffic are a breed apart from those who drive cars. As are those who race professionally, a breed apart from your average motorcyclist.

    Ones relationship to the concept of danger is coloured by ones knowledge and imagination.

    How many would’ve thought it possible to leap out of an airplane without a chute and survive, before it was done.

    Just a few examples of individuals who probably don’t have words like “NEVER” readily in their repertoire of vocabulary:

    Words like Impossible and Never, are reserved for those who are lacking in the knowledge, Imagination, or Awareness…

    I will state again, I do not think there was a conspiracy to take Lorenzo out, however, there should be a mechanism in the scoring system that attempts to rectify the situation…

    As for the tyre situation, maybe it is time to review another manufacturer to supply the motogp premiere class…

  • MikeD

    Calisdad says:
    With the state of things as they are I would think Bridgestone would be glad to be let out of their contract.

    Dr. Gellar says:

    But….things can’t go back to the way they were before, where one brand of tire would slaughter the rest and basically determine which riders would be competitive on any given weekend, as it was in the final days of Bridgestone vs. Dunlop vs. Michelin. That problem was the reason we have a control tire now in the first place.

    True. What to do, what to do ?