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GP Week : Issue 160
Casey Stoner came back from “the worst crash of my career” the morning before the Dutch TT at Assen to take an important third win of the year, putting him level on points again with Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo. But to the Repsol Honda rider it was hollow. It was accomplished without Lorenzo being there. The defining moment happened as Lorenzo turned in to the first corner. Nemesis came from behind, from fellow Spaniard Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda). The former 125 champion came flying through from row three, amazing other riders: “He was tucked in when I was on the brakes,” said Nicky Hayden, speaking for many and adding: “I thought: this isn’t going to work.” In an echo of a similar move at Valencia last year, Bautista was down even before he made the apex. Lorenzo was in the wrong place – knocked flying. End of race for both. Other riders were disturbed: second-row starter Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha) dropped to the back. But Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) in the lead was unscathed, shadowed by Stoner, Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha). Stefan Bradl was behind, but didn’t make the second lap, sliding off the LCR Honda for his first race crash of the year. The Hondas were immediately breaking away, Casey tailing Dani patiently. Painkillers were easing his progress after a comprehensive beating. “It was hard to get out of bed this morning and find the motivation to swing your leg over the bike when everything creaks and groans and doesn’t want you to really do it,” he said. The gap was never more than 0.35-seconds, and usually much smaller. Stoner said later he felt he could win, if he could keep his energy. He could. Pedrosa had the opposite problem. “My strategy was wrong. I think I used too much energy early on,” he said. Stoner saw his chance on lap 17, and immediately opened a gap. Pedrosa had set a new record on the previous, but was tired: “The bike felt heavy in the corners. I think maybe Casey could see I was being lazy,” he said. Turn 1: Bautista (inside) looms in as the unsuspecting Lorenzo turns in ... 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> ASSEN