Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the Assen race:
Safe points for Bautista at the Dutch TT
Publish Date: Saturday, June 25, 2011
Álvaro Bautista battled against the cold and unpredictable conditions at Assen in The Netherlands today to bring his Rizla Suzuki home safely in a points-scoring 11th place.
Bautista had struggled all weekend to find the rear grip to be competitive at the 4,542m Dutch circuit and with air temperatures only getting up to 14ºC - allied to a strong wind that cooled the track even more – this afternoon was always going to be an uphill battle for the smooth-riding Spaniard. Bautista got a good start and was up to 10th from his 14th place on the grid by the end of lap two. He stayed in that position right up until the last few laps before being passed as the race came to a conclusion and had to settle for 11th at the end of 26 difficult laps.
Despite the chilly conditions and the continuous threat of rain at the Assen circuit, over 92,000 fans braved the wintry conditions. The race was eventually won by Ben Spies on a Yamaha to secure his first MotoGP victory. Casey Stoner still leads the championship after finishing second.
Rizla Suzuki now heads south to Italy for the next round of the MotoGP World Championship, as it travels to Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix next Sunday hoping for much better weather in the Tuscan hillsides.
"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 tyre was on ice sometimes! Anyway, I'm looking forward to Mugello – hotter temperatures, a great track and we can do much better there. "
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"Today has been a very difficult race to top-off a disappointing weekend. It could have been worse, in that Álvaro kept it on two wheels and brought the bike home safely – unlike many unfortunate riders this weekend. The conditions in yesterday's qualifying were a bit warmer, but in the extremely cold and drizzly conditions this afternoon it seemed to cost us a lot more in contact feel, grip and confidence for the rider than it did for some of the other guys. Álvaro is looking forward to a much better situation in Mugello next weekend, but the combination of bike, rider and riding style simply didn't put anywhere near enough energy into the rear tyre to give us the grip we needed today. The control tyre situation has a lot of positives, but on occasions like today – when even the softer of the two tyres is way too hard for our rider – it makes it impossible to compete."
TWELTH PLACE AND FOUR POINTS FOR HÉCTOR BARBERÁ AT ASSEN
MAPFRE Aspar rider's problems with lack of rear grip persist in the Netherlands, but improvement is aim for Mugello next weekend
The asphalt at Assen is one of the most quick-drying on the MotoGP calendar. Thus, following a wet Moto2 race, the MotoGP riders were able to compete in a dry contest at the Dutch track an hour later. The opening laps of the race were crash-strewn, with four riders falling before the end of the first time around the course. A collision between Marco Simoncelli and Jorge Lorenzo led to a breakaway at the front, as Ben Spies took control of the race and never looked back. At the end of the 26 laps, there had been barely any changes in position, with Lorenzo's fightback through the field the only real excitement after the victor had been all-but decided.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá has only failed to finish outside the top ten on three occasions, and the Dutch visit was one of those races. The Spaniard suffered from a severe lack of grip from his tyres and was forced to try and ride around the problem for the duration of the race. In the end he crossed the line twelfth, picking up four points. Instead of getting down about the result, Barberá is raring to go at next weekend's round in Italy, where he will look to regain the good feeling with the bike that he has lost over the past two rounds.
12th Héctor Barberá: "I didn't have any confidence in the tyres, right from the start. The slightest lean on the bike made me uncertain, because the bike was sliding all over the place. I wasn't able to get the tyres up to temperature and had a hard enough job to keep the bike up under braking. We played around with the geometry a lot here and thought that the problems from Silverstone had been solved a little, but it seems as if that hasn't been the case. Having seen that we hadn't found a great setup here, our aim for the next race is to reset things to zero. We will go back to what we were working with during the winter tests in Malaysia and see if we can take things in the right direction. I gave my all and I think that that was the only thing that I could have done for the team. They are working 200% to try and help me with whatever they can in every session. I will try my best at Mugello to avoid a repeat of this race."
Spies excels at Assen to take first MotoGP victory
Round 7: Dutch TT – Race
TT Assen Circuit, Saturday 25 June 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Ben Spies took his first MotoGP victory in fine style today at Assen, controlling the race from the front to romp to an eventual 7.7second lead over second-placed Casey Stoner and his Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
The weather had been overcast all day and rain meant that the 125cc and Moto2 races were both wet, but by the start of the MotoGP race the conditions had become sufficiently dry for slick tyres, although the skies remained overcast. In the cool and slippery conditions, every rider on the grid opted for the softer specification front and rear slicks apart from Marco Simoncelli and Karel Abraham who used the harder option front.
With the track barely damp by the start of the race, the initial lap was always going to be crucial but several riders fell foul of the conditions. Abraham and Randy de Puniet retired in separate incidents, whilst Marco Simoncelli got caught out exiting turn five and took Jorge Lorenzo into the gravel with him although both restarted.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
"This is a fantastic win for Ben, especially during Yamaha's 50th anniversary celebrations, so I'd like to congratulate his team and Yamaha for their performance today. He becomes the tenth rider to have taken a premier class win on Bridgestone tyres and it is good to have a new race winner in MotoGP. It was a very tricky weekend for riders but also for our tyres. All season the temperature at races seems to be significantly lower than last year, and with the effect of rain over the last three days the track condition was very slippery and off-line it was still damp so today many riders used the softer slicks for improved warm-up."
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"The conditions today were cold and damp in places which meant that almost all riders used the softer option front and rear slicks. The soft compound front was used for its improved warm-up performance and grip with the low temperature, but the compromise of this means that tyre wear was therefore higher. Some riders experienced some graining of the front tyre, including Cal who opted to return to the pits for a fresh soft front slick. Generally, as Ben showed, rear tyre performance was ok today, even on the left side, although a few riders got caught out on the first lap. Andrea reported a vibration from the rear of his bike but investigation shows that this didn't have anything to do with the rear tyre but may have been the effect he felt of graining on the right side of the front tyre."
Ben Spies – Yamaha Factory Racing – Race Winner
"It's a special win – this is the biggest win for me and as good as it gets. This track is a track I grew up watching my heroes race on, and with this one being the 50th anniversary of Yamaha and with the special colours and all the legends watching, it all came together. The race went extremely well for us. It was tough in some ways but easy in others as it was good to be in a good rhythm where I could set my pace. We used the softer front tyre, which I never do, because of the conditions but we had to be cautious. It was damp off-line but we just had to be smart about it. We were able to get into the rhythm quickly this time, and it was a fun race."
Double podium finish for Stoner and Dovizioso in Assen, Aoyama in eighth
Today the Repsol Honda team sealed another double podium, the fifth of the season in seven races and as ever, the weather at the Dutch TT complicated matters with very changeable conditions.
Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso finished second and third respectively, after both falling yesterday in free practice. Casey, battered and bruised from yesterday's accident, never felt totally comfortable with his set up all weekend, and was very relieved to score some important Championship points. Andrea also still a little sore, experienced a tyre issue in the race which affected his ability to stay with Casey, who eventually built up a gap between the two riders.
Hiroshi Aoyama, despite having a sharp pain in the back after also falling in yesterdays ninety minute practice session, finished in a creditable eighth position in his first experience on the Honda RC212V factory machine.
Stoner, with six podium finishes in seven races, extended his lead in the MotoGP World Championship to 28 points ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, whilst Dovizioso, confirmed his third position in the Championship Standings.
After missing the past three Grands Prix, Dani Pedrosa will rejoin his team mates and make a welcomed return to the Repsol Honda Team in Mugello next week.
CASEY STONER – 2nd – World Championship Position: 1st with 136 points
"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".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 3rd – World Championship Position: 3rd with 99 points
"I'm really happy with todays' 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 tyre selection, choosing the soft front tyre. 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 tyre had some issues, which Bridgestone will analyse. 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".
HIROSHI AOYAMA – 8th – World Championship Position: 8th with 51 points
"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!".
Perfect Performance Delivers Maiden GP Victory for Spies
Texan Ben Spies chose to kick off Yamaha's 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix Racing in style today, delivering a flawless performance at the Assen TT to claim his first ever MotoGP race win. Spies had been on form all weekend delivering consistent fast race pace in all sessions whether wet or dry and been beaten to pole by a mere 0.009 seconds by Marco Simoncelli. A great start saw him leading the race from the first corner, quickly building a sizeable gap to Casey Stoner in chase which he held and extended to over 7.6 seconds by the chequered flag. The victory was all the sweeter for being delivered riding in the special red and white livery used this weekend to mark the anniversary celebrations.
Team mate Jorge Lorenzo delivered a true champion's performance after being cause to crash on the first lap by Marco Simoncelli. Lorenzo quickly remounted and charged from the back of the pack through to claim an impressive sixth place finish and salvage valuable championship points from the unfortunate incident.
As a result of his performance Spies jumps to seventh in the championship standings, tying with Dani Pedrosa on 61 points in sixth and just ten points behind Nicky Hayden in fifth. Lorenzo adds ten points to his championship tally and heads to Mugello next week with 108, 28 points behind leader Casey Stoner.
Position : 1st Time: 41'44.659
"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 colours 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!"
Position : 6th Time: +44.536
"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 tyres. I thought he learnt from the past and the polemic he created with Dani but it's clear he hasn't learnt. 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."
"A very tough race, mixed feelings here as we are very disappointed by the action with Simoncelli, It was a racing accident but pretty stupid. I'm happy for Ben that we were able to win here for the 50th Anniversary race. It's good to see we are able to win and it was also good to see Jorge picked up quickly and was able to do very good lap times so we know the speed was there. I know we would have been able to fight for the podium. I have to congratulate Ben he did a great job this weekend and I feel sorry for Jorge as he didn't deserve this result."
"Ben rode a really fantastic race today, we are very proud and I don't think his first GP win could have been more perfect. He was consistently fast all weekend and we were confident that he would deliver a really strong performance today. It's even more special to have won here whilst celebrating our 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix racing. I have to say his crew worked extremely hard all weekend and made sure he had a bike that he could win on. I'm very disappointed for Jorge, it was clear the crash was not his fault. He showed his true colours as a world class racer with the way he rode following the incident. We leave Assen with a day of highs and lows and head to Mugello with even more confidence that we have made another step in our package and can challenge for more victories."
Edwards and Crutchlow denied top five in Assen
Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow both saw deserved top five finishes in the Iveco TT Assen elude them at the legendary Circuit van Drenthe this afernoon.
After rain had played a major part in the earlier 125cc and Moto2 races, the 26-lap race started on a dry but cold track, with threatening grey clouds still looming overhead as the action commenced.
With air temperatures only just reaching a cold 13 degrees and the earlier rain affecting grip levels, Edwards and Crutchlow both fitted the soft compound Bridgestone front tyre to their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machines. Crutchlow made the best start of his MotoGP career and ended the first lap in fourth place, the British rider showing phenomenal early speed to chase Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso.
Ignoring the pain of the recovering left collarbone he broke at Silverstone just 15 days ago, the adrenaline fuelled 25-year-old superbly kept nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi at bay until he started to encounter a front tyre grip issue after five laps.
Determined to overcome the issue to claim his first top six MotoGP finish, he fought brilliantly to remain in the top six until lap 11 when the problem worsened. The 2009 World Supersport champion opted to pit for a new front tyre on lap 13 and he demonstrated his true potential again in the second half of the race to set a fast and consistent pace on his way to 14th.
American Edwards also encountered a front tyre grip issue as the race avoided any repeat of the earlier rain. Once he'd settled into a fast pace, Edwards was comfortably cutting the gap to C rutchlow and Rossi when his front tyre started to lose traction.
He held fifth until lap 17 when he was unable to hold off compatriot Nicky Hayden. Edwards also then encountered a rare arm pump issue caused as he tried to compensate for the muscle damage to his left ribcage suffered in a recent crash at the Catalunya. Despite his best efforts the 37-year-old was unable to maintain his pace and he dropped down the order to finish in seventh position.
Colin Edwards 7th – 46 points:
"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 analyse what happened because Ben (Spies) won the race on the soft front tyre. 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 14th – 32 points:
"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 V alentino behind me but then after about five or six laps I started struggling with the front tyre 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."
Hervé Poncharal: Team Manager:
"It was a brilliant start for both Cal and Colin and at that moment, after the incident between Simoncelli and Lorenzo, I was thinking that they could fin ish with a really strong Team result. The lap time was looking good from both of them and we were hoping they could finish inside the top six together for the first time this season. But suddenly we saw the lap time of Cal drop a lot and he came to the pit where we found out that the right side of his soft front tyre was completely finished. So he left the pit again with a hard compound, but of course his race was finished, though I want to thank him for going back and pushing to his maximum for the Team. It was only a few laps later also Colin's pace went down. He managed to defend seventh position but by the end he was very slow with the same problem as Cal. Unfortunately that is racing and in those conditions you have to take a bit of a gamble, as we almost had no proper dry time on the track. Finally I'd like to say congratulations to Yamaha and Ben. This weekend was huge for Yamaha being its 50th anniversary celebrations and for Ben to win was the perfect way to finish the weekend."
ASSEN TT FORGETTABLE. TEAM WILL TRY FOR REDEMPTION AT MUGELLO
There's an air of disappointment in the Pramac Racing Team. Following Loris Capirossi's crash in qualifying yesterday, which forced him to leave the Assen circuit before the race, misfortune today struck his teammate, Randy De Puniet. The Frenchman's Grand Prix only lasted one lap, as he was thrown from his bike after going long in the first turn. Now, after yet another forgettable race, Team Pramac will try to start a new season, and Mugello, a key event for Ducati, is certainly the right race to start again, more motivated than ever.
Fabiano Sterlacchini – Pramac Racing Technical Director
"Another unlucky race, to be forgotten. Something always goes wrong. We keep having high side problems with the bikes and maybe we should revaluate the technical rules of the championship. Too many riders fall too easily during the firsts laps and to my point of view this is not causality. Randy has made a mistake, but he is not the only rider who had this kind of accident. Now we have to try to stay focused and don't lose our concentration to improve our results starting from the next Grand Prix at Mugello".
Marco Rigamonti - Randy De Puniet Technical Engineer
"When we have the opportunity to fight for an important position in the standing we always find a complication. We are quite disappointed, mostly because we never managed to end a race with dry track conditions. Randy has to be calm now and he can't lose his concentration because this could be the worst thing. He has to stay focused and don't be afraid to push to the maximum. We have to reset everything, from Mugello a new season is beginning for us."
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team Rider – DNF
"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."
ANOTHER RACE TO FORGET
Unfortunately, Marco Simoncelli's chances of victory at Assen went up in smoke on the opening lap. A mistake stemming from an eagerness to lead put the Italian off-track on the first left hand corner, taking out Jorge Lorenzo with him. It was a disappointing moment after some great practice sessions and an outstanding qualifying performance. Another race to forget, then, for the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, who was nonetheless able to remount his Honda RC212V and place ninth –a small consolation for ‘Super Sic.'
Marco Simoncelli (9th) "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 apologise 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 (13th) "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."
Fausto Gresini "What a shame. The first left turn is always dangerous and the same thing happened here as in Estoril. It is a shame, because we were looking really good and capable of a great result. The move should have been held back for another couple of corners perhaps, and now our date with the podium has to wait once again. We are not angry, but the first person to be annoyed is Marco and we are all going to stick together. We want him to get out of this situation, because his motivation is as high as ever."
GOOD RACE FOR ROSSI AND HAYDEN AT DUTCH TT
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden earned fourth and fifth places, respectively, in the Dutch TT on a day marked by difficult weather conditions, with cold temperatures resulting in a number of early crashes.
The warm-up session was wet, but the track began to dry out before the race, and the MotoGP riders changed their setups on the grid and replaced their rain tyres with slicks.
Valentino Rossi quickly advanced from eleventh position to fourth, thanks to a strong start and a good feeling with his bike, while Hayden posted his best dry result of the season.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 4th
"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) 5th
"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."
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
"I think we got a good team result today with both Vale and Nicky. With Valentino we went into the race with a different setup than what he used in practice, without being able to confirm it in the warm-up, which was made useless by the rain. It was a calculated risk for Valentino and the team, but it proved to be the right choice, as it paid off with a good result considering the problems in practice. Nicky also had a nice race, as it would have been really easy to make a mistake today. He's doing a good job and working hard, as always, and he brought home some good points to put him fifth in the championship. We still have to work to improve because we want to take another step forward as soon as possible."