Due to a flawless and patient performance Saturday at Assen, Ben Spies became the first American to win a MotoGP race since Laguna Seca in 2006.
This was also Spies maiden win in MotoGP, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider of Texas taking victory in his sophomore year of GP competition.
Spies was strong all weekend, qualifying second behind San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, who crashed on the first lap, taking Spies’ teammate Jorge Lorenzo out. Simoncelli and Lorenzo would finish ninth and sixth, respectively.
Joining Spies on the Assen TT MotoGP podium were the Repsol Honda teammates, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso. For a full race report, click here.
Here’s what the MotoGP riders were saying following Saturday’s Assen TT MotoGP:
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “It was a strange race today as it was one of the most comfortable races we had and it resulted in a win. I saw the Simoncelli crash on the TV screen in the corner of my eye so I knew about it.
“I had a good feeling in the bike in the first couple of laps and had to push as much as I could to get a gap. When Casey was pushing back I still had a few tenths if I needed to, we could always match the pace. To do it this weekend with the 50th colors gives a little bit of pressure but it came out good! I was racing as hard as I could, I have to thank my guys; they gave me a great bike today. At least we’ve won a race now!”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “Of course Simoncelli doesn’t want to throw me off the track, that wasn’t his intention but I think he is not very conscious about the risks in this class with these tires.
“I thought he learned from the past and the polemic he created with Dani but it’s clear he hasn’t learned. The good thing is that we finished in sixth and took some points. I was fast with a good pace. The championship is now more difficult so we have to go all out to win races and go fast.
“We are making changes to the bike that are making it better with stability to brake harder and deeper so I think we can go to Mugello and be more competitive like Ben demonstrated today. I want to say a big congratulations to him for his first GP win and also thank you to all my guys who again worked really hard all weekend to give me a competitive bike.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’m really happy with (Saturday’s) podium. It’s a good result for the Championship and also it has come after a complicated race weekend. The track conditions were tough. When we were on the grid, the weather was still unpredictable and the track was not completely dry, so we went for a safe tire selection, choosing the soft front tire.
“This choice influenced my race because when I tried to stay with Casey, I was losing the front and I couldn’t push harder. This is my only disappointment today. Then after 15 laps, a strange vibration on the rear began. It was very annoying and I couldn’t understand what it was. As I had a good margin from Valentino, I rode more carefully to secure the third position.
“After the race we saw that the front tire had some issues, which Bridgestone will analyze”. Anyway, this second podium in a row and the third so far, shows that in the important moment we are there. Moreover, with today’s result we have reduced the gap from Jorge and consolidated third position in the Championship. I look forward to Mugello next week, the track is fantastic and the spectators are amazing.”
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “Today we would have liked to challenge for the win but the way this weekend has gone for us I’m really very happy for a podium finish and to take some valuable points.
“Yesterday we weren’t happy with the bike the set up, so today we made some changes and tried to get some more feeling, but unfortunately in the warm up we didn’t get a proper chance to try it, which meant we started the race with a set up we didn’t really know.
“After the crash yesterday I’m a little bit sore, in the middle part of the race I started to have some problems in the left hand corners with the shoulder but in general we knew we didn’t really have the pace to stay with Ben.
“I tried everything possible to catch him, but he was able to retain the advantage and start to pull some more, so my congratulations to Ben, he rode a great race, but for us it was just important to get points today.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “First of all I’d like to thank the whole Repsol Honda Team and HRC, and I’m sorry for the accident yesterday! It was quite a tough weekend due to the conditions and situation, not ideal to go racing in but we couldn’t do anything about this.
“We tried our best during this short space of time and I’m happy I enjoyed the race even if in a lot of pain after yesterday’s crash. In the race it was quite tough, but from mid-race I was able to improve lap by lap and achieve good consistency. The team did a very good job so thanks again to them as I have had a very nice and special experience riding Dani’s bike.
“This experience has taught me things and made me a better rider, I hope one day I can return to this team. Dani will return next race and I am sure he will be happy to be back on his bike!”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “We’re pretty satisfied with this result because compared to practice, we made a big improvement in the race. It would have been nice had we found the right direction more quickly, but this is a new bike that we’re still learning to work with, so obviously it takes some experience to get it right.
“In the end, we managed to find a setup that allowed me to ride pretty well but, not having tried it before, I approached the first laps very carefully. To be honest, we were also a little unlucky, because the rain during the warm-up prevented us from trying the changes.
“Anyway, the weekend was positive overall, because we got confirmation that this bike is better in many ways, especially with regard to the rear end, which is now much more stable. On the other hand, we also know that we must keep working because we still have a gap to the competition to make up. It’s not as big as the time we lost today in terms of seconds, but it’s still there. Still, we’re all trying really hard, and we must continue to do so.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “Conditions have been all over the place all weekend, and the race wasn’t any different. We went out with a rain setup, but we saw that it was drying quickly and changed to a complete dry setup on the grid.
“There were a couple of little wet patches early on, but it was okay. We made a small change for the race, but nothing big. The first lap or two, the tyres heated up and I felt really good. Then I made a couple of early mistakes. I touched a white line and also pushed the front once and had to go straight at the chicane. Colin passed me, and then I managed to drag him back.
“I can’t celebrate fifth place too much, but it’s my best dry result of the year and puts us fifth in the points. Congratulations to Ben, who’s a fellow American. I wish it was me, but he and his team deserve it.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: “In this race you can’t put it all down to bad luck, but the truth is that I was very naive. It was the first left hander, the asphalt was cold and, although I don’t think that I went in too hard to get past Lorenzo, I felt that I couldn’t hold back because I was third and close to the front two.
“There was time though, and I could have waited. I am unhappy to have caught Lorenzo up in my crash and can only apologize to him. The only consolation, small as it is, is that I was able to pick the bike up and finish the race and put down some good times -despite having parts and pegs missing from the bike and the back of my helmet digging in. It is another bad experience for me and I am going to try and bear it in mind, without losing focus and motivation.”
Kousuke Akiyoshi (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “It has been a fantastic experience for me and I thank HRC and everyone for this opportunity. Thanks also to the guys at Team San Carlo Honda Gresini who worked really well with me.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “That wasn’t an easy race at all and to be honest I’m happy I made it to the finish. I was feeling really good and catching Valentino and Cal when I went through the second corner and lost the front. I thought it was just because I was pushing but the next corner the same thing happened and from that moment it was really difficult.
“Each time I was in a right-hander I couldn’t turn but that wasn’t my only issue today. After about ten laps I got really bad arm pump. I’ve got no upper body strength with the rib injury from Catalunya, so to compensate I was doing everything with my arms and at one stage, the combination of the two issues meant I thought I was going to have to pull in.
“It was a case of gritting my teeth and getting some points but we’ll analyze what happened because Ben (Spies) won the race on the soft front tire. Our bike isn’t set-up completely different, so we’ll have to talk to Bridgestone, but hats off to Ben because he’s done an awesome job all weekend and rode a great race.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “Looking at the positives I got a fantastic start and for the first few laps I was running close to the front in a MotoGP race for the first time. I felt confident I could keep Valentino behind me but then after about five or six laps I started struggling with the front tire on the right side.
“I had no choice but to come in and change it because if I had carried on pushing it was going to be easy to crash and that’s the last thing I need to be doing at the moment. Having only had surgery on my left collarbone just over a week ago I just couldn’t afford to have another crash. Without that I’ve no doubt I’d have finished fourth but I’ve proved again I’ve got the speed and shown that I can race with the best in this class.
“It wasn’t the final result we wanted but I can’t change it and I still learned a lot, so now I’m concentrating on Mugello and getting a good result there.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP) says: “There was no big change in the race from the practice sessions, I still struggled for grip and found it hard to push. For the start of the race we went with the slick tyres, even though it was a little bit wet on the back of the track, but this was the best decision as the threatened rain never came.
“From the beginning to the end I never had a good feeling on the bike and it was always the same problem for the whole weekend – rear grip was nothing and entering the corners was very difficult. During the race I tried to push to get into the top-10, but each corner seemed very risky and it felt like the tire was on ice sometimes! Anyway, I’m looking forward to Mugello – hotter temperatures, a great track and we can do much better there.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “I am really upset for what happened today. I wanted to end this race with a good result, but I slipped at the beginning of the second lap. This negative period seem a never-ending story for me and for my Team. Today I could have at list finish in eight or ninth position.
“I am very sorry and I have to apologize specially to my Team and my technicians, who are working always in the best way possible for me, but today I made a big mistake and I lost control of my bike. I hope that the Ducati will be ready to give the best at Mugello, I will sure push to the maximum to do well.”
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “Well.. as I said many times already this is not the position I was dreaming but considering the rear grip issues and these difficult asphalt conditions I am very satisfied about this race.
“I took another good start from the last row finishing the first lap in ninth position. Suddenly Abraham crashed in front of me and I risked to crash into him so I lost a couple of seconds there. If the race would have been wet I could fight for a better position but I can not complain now. We still have many fix to adjust in the dry and we will see what the weather is going to be in Mugello.”