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Stoner Wins Crash-Marred Assen MotoGP Race


Stoner sprays Dovizioso on Assen MotoGP podium- Bridgestone photo

Stoner sprays Dovizioso on Assen MotoGP podium- Bridgestone photo

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Reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner received a "gift" from San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Albaro Bautista in the Iveco Assen TT Grand Prix on Saturday.

When Bautista lost his braking point--while trying to make his moves up the grid from eighth starting spot--he hit championship leader Jorge Lorenzo's Factory Yamaha Racing motorcycle and threw Lorenzo out of the race.

This eased Stoner's way to the front on his Repsol Honda and eventually allowed him to pass teammate Dani Pedrosa on the 17th lap of the 26-lap contest for the win on a hot, sunny afternoon.

The margin of victory was a gaping 4.965 seconds, while Andrea Dovizioso's Monster Tech3 Yamaha finished third after a great battle with Ben Spies' Factory Yamaha Racing machine.

Stoner celebrated his third victory of the 2012 season and sixth consecutive Assen podium.

"To take pole position and ow the win is really incredible," Stoner said. "My plan was to get a better start than I actually did, take some advantage and use the energy I had to try and make a gap and try to hold on to the end. I had a lot of arm pump as I had to compensate for my injuries Friday, but my fitness was good and the bike was working well in general."

Pedrosa knew he had "better rhythm than Casey; I made a good start and tried to pull away from the first laps," he noted. "Casey stayed behind me all the time and by the second half of the race, I believe he took the extra energy he saved during the first part of the race to overtake me. Our pace was very good, the bike worked very well but maybe I just chose the wrong strategy this time?"

Dovizioso earned a second podium in the past three races following a thrilling duel between his satellite team Yamaha and the remaining factory bike of American Ben Spies. Dovi waited until the final lap to produce a clinical overtaking maneuver: "Scoring a podium for us feels like a victory," he said. "I have never had a very good feeling at this track but with the Yamaha YZR-M1 I felt much more comfortable."

While Spies suffered with front grip at the start of the race, "I was able to ride around it. About seven or eight laps from the end I was pushing to get away when a chunk came out of the tire and then a second; I couldn't do anything about it." Spies was just hoping Dovizioso would get past him so that, if the tire exploded he wouldn't fall directly in front of his competitor.

Pedrosa leads Stoner early in the race - MotoGP photo

Pedrosa leads Stoner early in the race - MotoGP photo

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The balance of the top 10 included Cal Crutchlow in fifth on the second Monster Tech3 Yamaha, Nicky Hayden's Ducati in sixth, the satellite Pramac Racing Team's Ducati of Hector Barbera and then the first CRT with Randy de Puniet taking a masterful eighth on the Power Electronics Aspar. Michele Pirro finished ninth on the second San Carlo Gresini Honda while CRT rider Mattia Pasini rode the Speed Master to tenth place in this contest.

After this crash-marred race MotoGP stewards announced their decision that Bautista rode "in an irresponsible manner, causing danger to rider Jorge Lorenzo, which is an infringement to the article N. 1.21.2 of the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix regulations. The Race Direction decided to impose on Alvaro Bautista the penalty of the starting the next race in Sachsenring on 8 July 2012 from the last position on the starting grid." The FIM's stewards confirmed this decision--despite a San Carlo Gresini Honda appeal--making it final.

Alvaro apologized to Lorenzo, but the former championship leader found the punishment insufficient: "I think it's a complete disaster; the move he did was a disaster for the decision that race direction is taking is even more sad. Every time it does not penalize riders so they can learn in the future," as he was penalized by a one-race ban in 2005. "Starting the next race in last position is not enough to learn from."

With Stoner's win and Lorenzo's DNF, the duo are tied with 140 points each following this Assen TT MotoGP race, with Pedrosa third, Crutchlow fourth and Dovizioso in fifth place. The next race is the Motorrad Grand Prix of Germany next weekend at Sachsenring circuit.
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