Although Team USA was knock out of the FIFA World Football (Soccer) Cup, an American leads all MotoGP rookies in the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship.
Moto GP rookies produced another exciting motorcycle race at the 80th running of the historic TT Assen. The Dutch spectators filled the Assen circuit, with 97,146 fans at the racetrack to witness non-rookie Jorge Lorenzo take his second successive victory to increase his lead at the head of the riders’ championship.
As for the rookies, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Ben Spies made a blistering start from fourth on the grid to take up the tough challenge of fighting with dominant MotoGP world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo in the early stages.
Unable to match the pace of the leading trio despite pushing his M1 machine to the limit, Spies became locked in a close dice with Andrea Dovizioso. Spies then produced a brilliantly executed overtake on Dovizioso at the final chicane on lap 16.
Spies took fourth by nearly two seconds at the conclusion of the 26-lap race to continue the excellent form he displayed when storming to a maiden podium at Silverstone last weekend.
Ben Spies (4th at Assen) says: “I got a good start and was happy with that. The podium battle had gone away and then over the last three laps I heard Andrea and Randy putting the pressure on. I put my head down hard and managed to open a gap. I was sliding a lot but I managed to stretch away and I could cruise the last lap.”
Marco Simoncelli, the Italian rookie was unable to match the progress he has made in recent races, struggling for rear grip and forced to use all his ability to bring the bike home in a respectable ninth place.
A positive weekend of practice had given “Super Sic” high hopes of further improvements today but a first negative experience in MotoGP will not dent his optimism and should be a learning experience for the future.
Marco Simoncelli (9th at Assen): “I knew something wasn’t right from the start because the feeling wasn’t as good as yesterday, the rear tire didn’t have the same grip and from the first lap I was taking risks. I decided to pull the oars into the boat and get to the line in the best position possible. It is a top ten finish but we wanted more.”
Despite starting fourteenth on the grid, Páginas Amarillas Aspar rider Héctor Barberá was able to move up the field with a good start onboard his satellite Ducati. He was up to thirteenth by the end of lap one. Then came an intense battle with Loris Capirossi and Mika Kallio, with whom he exchanged numerous passes throughout the course of the race. The Spaniard eventually placed twelfth taking four points and setting himself up for his home race next weekend.
Hector Barbera (12th at Assen) says: “I never felt comfortable on the Ducati this weekend, and the electronics had a lot to do with that. I’m still not on top of it. I went to give it my all in the race, despite the setbacks, and I can at least be satisfied with my performance and the battle with Capirossi and Kallio.”
Hiroshi Aoyama’s warm-up crash during the British Grand Prix in Silverstone has taken the 28-year old raider out of action due to a fracture to his T12 vertebra. Aoyama missed both the English and Dutch rounds and is not expected back for at least another few rounds.
Alvaro Bautista struggled with his injured shoulder around the physically demanding TT Assen MotoGP circuit. He began the race in severe discomfort and although he tried to push hard he couldn’t find that strength to battle it out with other riders. He rode a lonely race before bringing his bike home safely after 26 grueling laps.
Álvaro Bautista says: “I woke up this morning I felt more pain in my left arm. I think that yesterday I did too much and today my left arm was very tired and painful. From the first lap though it felt very difficult riding the bike, because it felt like the tires were still not warm enough, so I tried to push and find my rhythm like in practice, but the bike just moved around much more than it did in practice – I don’t know why.”
MotoGP Rookie of The Year Standings
Ride – Country – Points (QAT, SPA, FRA, ITA, GBR, NED)
1. Ben Spies – USA – 49 (11, 0, 0, 9, 16, 13)
2. Marco Simoncelli – Italy – 39 (5, 5, 6, 7, 9, 7)
3. Aleix Espargaro – Spain – 28 (1, 7, 8, 6, 6)
4. Hector Barbera – Spain – 28 (4, 3, 8, 4, 5, 4)
5. Aoyama Hiroshi – Japan – 18 (6, 2, 5, 5, 0, 0)
6. Bautista Alvaro – Spain – 14 (0, 6, 0, 2, 4, 2)