MotoGP Iveco TT Assen, June 23-25, 2011

Spies Wins at Assen!

Ben Spies

American Ben Spies, who was edged out of pole position by Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team), rode a perfect race to cross the line 7.697s ahead of Casey Stoner in second place. The Texan had a good start, allowing him to narrowly avoid the drama of the first lap, when pole starter Italian Simoncelli took out Spies’ team mate Jorge Lorenzo in the third corner. Simoncelli had hoped to finally reach the podium in the Saturday race, but the Italian fell victim to a cold tyre early on.

Stoner led team mate Andrea Dovizioso to the finish, where the Italian claimed his third top three finish of the 2011 season. Stoner is now 28 points ahead of Lorenzo in the Championship while Dovizioso remains third, but is now only nine points behind the Spaniard.

The Ducati Team duo was lead across the finish line by Valentino Rossi in fourth and Nicky Hayden in fifth. Lorenzo was able to rejoin the race and put his head down after the clash with Simoncelli to cross the line in sixth place.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards was seventh, in front of Dani Pedrosa’s stand-in Hiroshi Aoyama. They were followed by Simoncelli in ninth, who rejoined the race after push starting his own motorcycle following the run in on the first lap. Toni Elías of the LCR Honda team completed the top ten finishers.

Cal Crutchlow exited the track with a front tyre problem, though re-entered the race to finish 14th.

Karel Abraham ended what was otherwise a good weekend for the Cardion AB Motoracing with a fall early in the race. He was followed a short time later by Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing), the fourth DNF of the season for the Frenchman. Both riders were unhurt in the falls.

Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) did not participate in the race due to injuries sustained in a fall during the qualifying session.

Spies interview

results

Marc Márquez

Reigning 125cc Champion Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol, above) took his second Moto2 victory of his debut season in tricky conditions at the Iveco TT Assen, climbing 6 places in the Championship to put him second in the standings. The 18 year old finished in front of Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP) in second, the Turkish rider’s first podium of the season, and Bradley Smith (Tech 3) in third.

Both Sofuoglu and Smith lead the field throughout the race, battling with Spanish star Márquez and Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing), who made it up to second position before crashing out with only 4 laps to go. Mike di Meglio (Tech 3) was also an early front runner until he crashed out as well.

Anthony West (MZ Racing) rode a strong race to finish fourth, his best finish of the season so far. The Australian was chased by Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) in fifth and Mattia Pasini (Ioda Racing Project) in sixth, who welcomed the top ten finish after his DNF in the last round at Silverstone. Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing) and Max Neukirchner (MZ Racing) completed the top ten.

As the track began to dry the rain tyres started to wear and it became clear that the matter of staying upright was affected by the fast degrading tyres. The end of the race produced a number of crashes, including Championship leader Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), who fell in the chicane with 3 laps to go, failing to finish a race for the first time this season and seeing his Championship lead narrowed slightly. It was not a good day for Gresini Racing Moto2 team, as Michele Pirro followed his team mate Takahashi and crashed on the last lap.

Maverick Viñales on the Paris Hilton bike (#25)

Maverick Viñales charged to his second victory of 2011 at the Iveco TT Assen, pulling a 2 and a half second gap over Luis Salom in second and Sergio Gadea in third before rain produced a red flag. Rookie Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) pulled away from the way from the field of the 125cc riders, after a thrilling start saw a group of 8 riders battling for the lead. The 16 year old had dropped back as far as ninth position, only to make his way back to the front, finally making an outside pass on Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) to take the lead on lap 10.

The start of the race saw Sergio Gadea charge into the lead in the first corner and ride an aggressive race, making some astonishing passes through the chicane and trading places with the two Derbis of Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) and Efrén Vázquez. Gadea finally finished third when rain produced the red flag and called the race at lap 15. As two thirds of the race distance had been covered, full points awarded as of positions on lap 14.

Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) battled with Cortese and Gadea, making a pass on Gadea just in time to place second in the race. Cortese ended in fourth, followed by Zarco in fifth, Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) in sixth and Vázquez in seventh.

Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) was in the lead pack until he had a big moment in turn one, finishing the race in eighth position, in front of Marcel Schrötter (Mahindra Racing) in ninth and Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) in tenth.

Simoncelli over Spies by a Hair in Assen

Marco Simoncelli totes the wheel at Assen

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) displayed his determination for a first premier class podium by sealing his second pole position of the 2011 MotoGP season. The Italian’s hot lap of 1’34.718 left him just 0.009s clear at the top of the timesheet, ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies. Spies stepped up his pace for the weekend, topping the timings at the halfway point of the hour long session and was the first to break into the 1’34s. Stoner clocked a time of 1’35.008 on his Repsol Honda to join the front row for the Iveco TT Assen race.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) again set the fourth fastest time of the day, with a 1’35.143, followed by Andrea Dovizioso who was 0.101s behind the Mallorcan. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow, still nursing a broken collarbone from a crash at Silverstone two weeks ago, bravely rode to sixth on the grid, 0.085s behind the Repsol Honda of Dovizioso in fifth.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) had a strong qualifying run, running as high as third in the timings fairly late in the session, to finally put his Ducati in seventh with a time of 1’35.742. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team) followed the Czech by a margin of 0.076s with Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) completing the ten fastest times.

Valentino Rossi made several visits to the garages, attempted to find a dry set up for the Ducati team GP11.1 though did not make great improvements and will be starting the race from 11th position. Standing in for Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda team, Hiroshi Aoyama will start from 12th position.

A disappointing qualifying was had by both Toni Elías (LCR Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) who both crashed out of the qualifying session, leaving Capirossi unable to participate in tomorrow’s race.

Simoncelli interview

Stefan Bradl

Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider Stefan Bradl set an early fast time under darkening skies to put himself on pole position for the Moto2 race. He is joined by Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) and Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) on the front row.

Having posted the fastest times in both practice sessions, Bradl stepped in front of the field early in the 45 minute Moto2 qualifying session, with a fast lap of 1’39.305 to give him his sixth pole of the 2011 season. Catalan Márquez posted an early lap 0.295s behind the German and Italian Corsi followed with a posted time of 1’39.700 to put him in third.

The skies threatened rain as the Moto2 bikes hit the track, and by the halfway point it started to fall. Riders entered the pits to wait it out or change tires, and in the last few minutes of the session most of them hazarded back out on the wet track to make the most of the already shortened weekend track time.

Tom Lüthi (Interwetten Moto2 Paddock), Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) and Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40) make up the second row for the start of the race, while Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP), Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) and Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing) comprise row three. Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing) completed the top 10 of the qualifying session.

Maverick Viñales on the Paris Hilton bike

16 year old Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) set a time one second faster than his FP2 time of 1’44.597, putting him on pole for the 125cc race, his second consecutive pole for the 2011 season in only his seventh World Championship start. French rider Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) pushed hard in the last seconds to surpass the Spanish rookie but had to settle for second, with a time of 1’44.785, a tiny margin of 0.002 ahead of Intact Racing Team Germany rider Sandro Cortese.

Variable weather made for an intense 125cc qualifying session, with rain appearing in the first 10 minutes and sending all the riders back to the pits, but not before local rider Jasper Iwema (Ongetta-Abbink Metaal) set an early provisional pole which stood for the first half of the session.

As the track dried the lap times dropped, and a serious battle for the lead position began between the class heavyweights Zarco, Cortese, Viñales and Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar). Faubel set a time of 1’44.963, placing him at the front of row 2 for the start, followed 0.272s behind by Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) and Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) completing the second row.

Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) crashed out halfway through the qualifying session, his fastest lap placing him seventh on the grid, followed by Nicolás Terol (Bankia Aspar) who crashed on a hot lap, dashing his expectations of a front row start and placing him eighth. The Championship Terol leader crashed earlier in the morning session and fractured the fifth metacarpal of his right hand, in addition to injuring his right ankle.

Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) also crashed out of the session early after showing in the top three times, will start from ninth, with Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) leading row 4 in tenth position.

On their Asses in Assen

Marco Simoncelli quickest in Assen practice

The first day of practice at the Iveco TT Assen was shortened substantially when the afternoon practice sessions for all three categories were cancelled. Heavy rain during the first practice sessions claimed many riders in crashes, particularly in the Moto2 class which saw the heaviest rain. Italian rider Alex Baldolini inadvertently left a trail of oil over a considerable portion of the track when he reentered following a crash in the Moto2 session, which caused problems.

The clean up work initially delayed the start of the FP2 125cc session, which was due to begin at 13:15, and then finally forced a full cancellation of the afternoon sessions when the MotoGP FP2 was unable to start, despite a team of clean-up trucks spending close to two hours scrubbing oil spilled over one third of the circuit.

The session losses will be compensated for each class on Friday, where 125cc will have a one hour practice beginning at 8:40, MotoGP will have time extended to an hour and a half beginning at 9:50, and Moto2 will be on the track for an hour and five minutes with a start time of 11:30.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) started the weekend off the best way possible, lapping 0.360s ahead of Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi who is on board the GP11.1 Desmosedici for the Dutch TT. Completing the top three was Repsol Honda rider and series leader Casey Stoner, who was close to half a second down on Rossi in the morning practice session.

The two Italians had tussled to lead the timings early in the session, swapping first and second fastest positions until the Australian stepped into the mix. All three pulled out fast laps at the close of the session, with Simoncelli coming out on top. The three were followed by Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) in fourth and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) in fifth.

Cal Crutchlow, after breaking his collarbone only two weeks ago at his home Silverstone race, stuck in out for 13 laps to lay down a time that put him sixth in the standings.

Rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) carried his form over from the weekend in Silverstone with the seventh fastest time, finishing the practice ahead of Americans Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in eighth, Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) ninth and Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) in tenth. Spanish rider Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) followed with 11th place.

Hiroshi Aoyama who is replacing the injured Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda Team, put in a 12th fastest time in the wet session.

Stefan Bradl

Current leader of the Moto2 pack, Stefan Bradl put the heat on his intermediate category rivals in the rainy Assen FP1.

Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider Bradl opened up the first Moto2 practice session of the Iveco TT Assen weekend riding his Kalex machine to the top of the timesheet with a best lap of 1’54.435 on the historic Dutch circuit. Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP) was second fastest, less than three tenths behind the German with Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project), who is currently second in the Championship, third quickest in the wet.

Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing), who is now third in the Championship, was 0.83s adrift of Bradl’s pace in fourth. Last year’s race winner Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) lead in the beginning of the session though crashed out in the first 15 minutes. The Italian’s first laps were quick enough to put him fifth in the times, Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing), Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda Singha-SAG), Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up) - who crashed before the end of the session- and American rider Kenny Noyes (Avintia-STX) all registering top ten times.

The adverse weather claimed several more riders, with a sudden spate of crashes bringing out the red flag, and later the cancellation of the session, with four minutes remaining due to oil spillage on the track. But not before Elena Rosell, the replacement rider for Julián Simon on the Mapfre Aspar team, crashed twice, Axel Pons (Pons HP 40), Javier Forés (Mapfre Aspar) and Ricky Cardús (QMMF Racing Team), among others, crashed out of the session in various corners.

Jonas Folger

Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) set the fastest time in the first 125cc practice of the Iveco TT Assen. Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) followed with second and third quickest times.

The 125cc riders hit the track for the first day of practice in preparation for the Iveco TT Assen. The weekend weather did not indicate it would be an easy weekend however, as under cloudy skies rain began to fall 15 minutes into the first 40 minutes of the single cylinder practice session. Many riders returned to the pits with the first drops of rain, with many riders remaining in the pits until the last 15 minutes.

Folger, despite an offtrack excursion, managed a lap of 1’47.191, which put him on top of the timings. Fellow countryman Cortese followed 0.387s behind, with Spaniard Viñales nearly a second behind Folger’s time. Points leader Nicolas Terol (Bankia Aspar) was fourth fastest of the session.

Niklas Ajo (TT Motion Events Racing) was an early crasher, with several riders crashing in the last minutes of FP1 as the weather worsened, including Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing), Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo), Josep Rodríguez (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) and Simone Grotzkyj (Phonica Racing).

earlier

Stoner leads MotoGP procession to the Cathedral

Round 7 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, the Iveco TT Assen, keeps the action coming thick and fast as Championship leader Casey Stoner aims to defend his newly-found position at the top of the standings. The 2011 campaign is now one-third through its 18-round course, laying the way for a busy mid-section of the schedule to commence this weekend. Having enjoyed a weekend off following back-to-back rounds at Catalunya and Silverstone, the focus returns to business with the 81st Dutch TT event.

Stoner has been installed as the Championship leader following an eventful Silverstone race in which the Repsol Honda rider secured his fourth win of the season, in the process becoming the first Honda rider to win three successive MotoGP races since Valentino Rossi in 2003. The Australian now holds an 18-point lead over reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who crashed out of the wet Silverstone race and will be desperate to recoup lost ground on his rival.

In failing to finish the British GP Lorenzo brought to an end a phenomenal run of 25 successive top-four finishes, a sequence which started towards the end of the 2009 season. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider won last year’s Assen race, a result which means he has now tasted victory in all three classes in which he has ridden at the famous circuit, and the aim will be clear this weekend.

Following close on the heels of Lorenzo is Andrea Dovizioso, and the Repsol Honda rider took his second podium of the campaign in the rain-soaked Silverstone race – he is 15 points behind Lorenzo – whilst Valentino Rossi is the same margin of points down on his fellow Italian in fourth in the standings. The Ducati Team rider is now on his longest winless streak since moving up to the premier class in 2000 having gone nine races without a victory, but as is the case at many of the circuits on the World Championship calendar he has a strong record at Assen. Rossi has won there five times in the premier class but missed last year’s race due to injury, and will be targeting a second podium of 2011 this weekend.

Despite having missed the last two rounds Dani Pedrosa remains fifth in the Championship standings, but the Repsol Honda rider’s participation this weekend is yet to be confirmed. Pedrosa underwent further surgery on his injured right collarbone last Thursday to fix a small fragment of bone which had become dislodged, and will discuss his fitness with his medical team before making a decision on whether he takes part.

Assen is a track at which Nicky Hayden has fared well in previous years, the American having taken a victory there in his Championship-winning 2006 season, but on the Ducati he is yet to finish higher than seventh at the Dutch venue. Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will ride for the first time in the premier class at Assen after missing last year’s race through injury, but the Japanese rider took a victory in the 250cc class in 2009 so knows what is required from the technical layout.

Colin Edwards scored an incredible podium at Silverstone just eight days after breaking his collarbone and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider returns to the site at which he has twice stood on the rostrum. The American’s team-mate Cal Crutchlow suffered a similar injury in a qualifying crash at Silverstone and after undergoing surgery last week will have to wait to make a decision as to whether he tests his physical condition at Assen.

A first premier class podium continues to elude Marco Simoncelli but the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider will be confident he can finally end the wait at Assen after proving his pace repeatedly this season, whilst Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will be eager to rediscover the podium form he displayed at Catalunya after a crash in Britain.

Rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) continues to improve in his debut season and is schedule to make his 100th GP start this weekend. Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) will aim to break back into the top ten at Assen, whilst Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) will be keen to follow up his season’s best finish to date of fifth from Silverstone. Likewise Toni Elías scored his best result of 2011 so far with eighth in the UK and the LCR Honda rider and his team will hope that the progression continues, as will Pramac Racing pair Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet.

The first practice session for the MotoGP class at the Iveco TT Assen is scheduled to get underway at 10.10am local time on Thursday, with race day on Saturday.

Moto2

Stefan Bradl heads to the Netherlands following his fourth Moto2 victory of the season at Silverstone. The Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider has a superb record thus far in 2011, entering the Dutch TT with a 62 point lead, the greatest number of points that any rider has led a Grand Prix World Championship after just six races in any class of GP racing. His five successive poles have not been seen in the intermediate-class since Toni Elías in 2003.

Ioda Racing Project’s Simone Corsi is second in the Championship, and is the only rider in Moto2 outside of Bradl to have scored points at all of the six races this year. Though only finishing 12th at the Dutch TT last year, he crossed the line seven places ahead of Bradl in 19th. Moving into third place in the Championship hunt, nine points behind Corsi, is Yuki Takahashi, who finished 10th last year in the Moto2 race at Assen from 13th place on the grid. The Japanese had his best result at the Dutch TT with a 6th place in the 250cc race in 2006.

Fourth with 49 points is Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, who, although he started the season strong, has finished outside the points twice in the last four races. The Italian will be looking to turn his season around at the Dutch TT, where he positively dominated in last year’s Moto2 race, qualifying on pole and leading every lap of the race.

Iannone is matched in Championship points by Mapfre Aspar rider Julián Simón, who is recovering from surgery on a fractured tibia and fibula he sustained at the Catalunya GP. Simón will have a new replacement rider in the form of Elena Rosell for the upcoming Assen GP. The 25 year-old Rosell currently races in the Stock Extreme series of the CEV Buckler (Spanish National Championship) and will be the first woman to compete in the intermediate class since Katja Poensgen took part in the 250cc championship eight years ago.

Thomas Luthi is sitting sixth in the Championship points and proved to be a strong rider here when he finished third in the 2010 Moto2 race while suffering from shoulder injuries received in a motocross training accident. One point behind the Swiss rider is Bradley Smith, whose incredible second place after starting from 28th on the grid at Silverstone moved him into the top Rookie position in the class, two points ahead of Marc Márquez. Catalan rider Márquez won the 125cc race at the Dutch TT last year from a pole position start.

The Moto2 class will feature two wildcards for the Assen race, Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (EAB Racing) and South African rider Steven Odendaal of MS Racing.

125cc

The chasing pack aim to close in on Championship leader Nico Terol at the Iveco TT Assen, with Jonas Folger leading the group and buoyed by his first World Championship win in the previous round. Having become the youngest ever German rider to win a Grand Prix (at Silverstone), Folger's (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) title challenge received a timely boost with a valuable victory in the wet British GP and the 17 year-old German now heads to Assen aiming to put more pressure on Championship leader Nico Terol.

Bankia Aspar rider Terol remains a healthy 35 points clear at the top of the standings but his eighth place in the British rain did end an impressive record-equalling run of 14 consecutive podium finishes in the 125cc category. That will matter little to the Spaniard however as he is well aware of the importance of collecting more points as he protects his strengthening title challenge.

With Folger in second his fellow rider in the Ajo set-up Johann Zarco is placed third in the standings and the 20 year-old will be more eager than ever to emulate his colleague and secure a first GP win. Zarco's best finish at Assen in his two previous visits has been 12th (last year), but the Avant-AirAsia-Ajo rider is looking ever more likely to take his maiden victory having been denied in Catalunya, and comes into this round off the back of his best-ever finish of second in Britain.

Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) sits just two points behind in the standings and the German will aim for a return to the podium positions, whilst Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) and Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) are closely matched as well. Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) scored his first podium of the season in the previous round and will expect to kick on from there, whilst Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) will want to bounce back from a disappointing DNF last time out.

Aiming for a strong follow up to the last race will be Spanish youngsters Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) and Adrián Martín (Bankia Aspar) who placed fourth and sixth respectively at Silverstone, whilst British trio Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing) and Taylor Mackenzie (Phonica Racing) all finished in the points and will expect to do so once again.

Four Dutch wild card riders will add to the depth of talent on display with Bryan Schouten (Dutch Racing Team), Ernst Dubbink (RV Racing Team), Jerry van de Bunt (Jerrys Racing Team) and Thomas van Leeuwen (Racing Team Van Leeuwen) all participating. German wild card Luca Gruenwald (Freudenberg Racing Team) will also ride, whilst Norwegian Sturla Fagerhaug continues in place of the injured Sarath Kumar on the WTR-Ten10 Racing Team.

courtesy of MotoGP