Casey Stoner did it again in Assen this past weekend, taking his Marlboro Ducati to the top of every practice and qualifying session and then simply checking out in the race, winning by more than 11 seconds and it could easily have been much more. There was nobody else in his league at all.
Valentino Rossi believed that his Fiat Yamaha was quick enough to chase Stoner down, but Rossi made a rare mistake on the first lap, crashing and taking out Randy de Puniet. The Italian star managed to restart and even with a broken shift lever and bent handlebar managed the third-fastest lap of the race and clawed his way back up to 11th for five championship points. "I am very disappointed because we made a change to the set-up of the front and it worked very well, and I could tell from the warm-up lap that my bike was very good today. Unfortunately I made a mistake at the first left; I arrived too fast when the tyres were still cold, I was too hard on the brakes and I lost the rear," he said, adding that, "I think I am a dickhead."
Second on track went to Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who took over the lead in the world championship chase, with 171 points, four ahead of Rossi, with Stoner closing in at 142. Third should have been Pedrosa’s team-mate Nicky Hayden, but his engine quit on the last corner of the last lap, and Colin Edwards powered by to take the final podium slot, relegating Hayden to fourth. It was a tough break for The Kentucky Kid; observers thought his bike ran out of fuel, but Hayden said the new pneumatic valve engine hadn’t been quite right all race and something went very wrong the last couple of laps.
The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Andrea Dovizioso, continuing to impress on the JiR Scott Honda, Rossi’s factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, Chris Vermeulen on the only Suzuki entered, Shinya Nakano, James Toseland, and Sylvain Guintoli on the Alice team satellite Ducati, his best finish of the year.
The Moto GP circus now takes a break until July 13 at the Sachsenring in Germany.