MOTOGP: Round 6 – Assen, Netherlands – June 26

Jorge Lorenzo put in another faultless performance to lead from start-to-finish and put himself a hefty 47pts clear in the MotoGP championship just a third of the way through the season.

Lorenzo got a good if not dramatic getaway at the start, but it was helped by the number two man Randy de Puniet stuttering and jerking as the lights went out, putting him half a dozen places back by the first corner. Lorenzo was also aided by the placing of his main rival, Dani Pedrosa, down in seventh on the grid, so while the tiny Spaniard got his trademark flying getaway, it was only enough to put him up to third.

Instead it was Ben Spies who made the most surprising start, leaping up into second place and then he and Pedrosa pinching Casey Stoner out and back to fourth place. However, for all his startline speed, Spies soon began to struggle with the leading pace and as Lorenzo slipped away in front, Spies seemed to be holding up the rest of the field.

Sure enough, once Pedrosa got past Spies two laps in, Pedrosa raced away in pursuit of the leader leaving Spies to quickly succumb to Stoner and to Andrea Dovizioso. Pedrosa and Stoner sliced through Lorenzo’s lead in short order, coming very close up on the tail of the leader and looking set to make a move on Lorenzo at any moment.

But by lap 9, it seemed that Lorenzo’s harder tyre was coming into its prime and Pedrosa’s softer tyre was on the wane, and he started slipping back – right into the clutches of Stoner, but the Australian’s pace also started to wane in the later stages of the race as Stoner began to suffer from “arm pump”, and in the end the top three stretched out with comfortable distances between then – and a good 5s or more ahead of the rest of the field. Lorenzo never had a serious challenge for his lead, and while he didn’t pull out a huge gap as we saw at Silverstone, he nonetheless looked utterly comfortable, serene and in control. If he’d needed more, you knew instinctively that there were deeper reserves left to call on. But at Assen, they weren’t required.

And that, frankly, was the race. There were some good multi-lap battles further back between Marco Simoncello and Aleix Espargaro for 9th, and Mika Kallio and Hector Barbera for 11th, which kept the entertainment factor bubbling away a little, but it wasn’t until Dovizioso and de Puniet went to war over 5th place that any real excitement sparked again.

Dovizioso was inconsistent this afternoon, initially passing Spies for fourth place but then suffering poor pace mid-race which allowed Spies to take back the position. Dovizioso then came under attack from de Puniet who was determined to make some recompense for his botched start, and he fell back another place to sixth going into the final part of the race. But de Puniet’s handling was going off and the Frenchman was becoming seriously unstable, and Dovizioso needed no second invitation than to stage a lunge around the outside on the penultimate lap. A furious battle ensued with the position changing multiple times in the last lap, before de Puniet’s final strike through the last chicane ended up running wide and giving Doviziso fifth place. De Puniet crossed the line punching his bike’s bubble screen, frustrated at that early mistake at the start costing him what should have been a good result.

There were no retirements or crashes at Assen, which is just as well given the meagre starting grid of just 15 bikes after Marco Melandri was forced to sit this one out after dislocating his shoulder in a nasty practice crash on Friday.

Race result

Pos  Rider             Team                  Time/Gap
 1.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha               41m18.629s
 2.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda               +    2.935s
 3.  Casey Stoner      Ducati              +    7.022s
 4.  Ben Spies         Tech 3 Yamaha       +   13.265s
 5.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda               +   15.323s
 6.  Randy de Puniet   LCR Honda           +   15.772s
 7.  Nicky Hayden      Ducati              +   25.867s
 8.  Colin Edwards     Tech 3 Yamaha       +   28.991s
 9.  Marco Simoncello  Gresini Honda       +   35.658s
10.  Aleix Espargaro   Pramac Ducati       +   35.837s
11.  Mika Kallio       Pramac Ducati       +   56.769s
12.  Hector Barbera    Aspar Ducati        +   56.890s
13   Loris Capirossi   Suzuki              + 1m00.615s
14.  Alvaro Bautista   Suzuki              + 1m08.074s
15   Kousuke Akiyoshi  Interwetten Honda   +     1 lap

MotoGP championship

Pos Driver            Points
1   Jorge Lorenzo     140
2   Daniel Pedrosa    93
3   Andrea Dovizioso  89
4   Valentino Rossi   61
5   Nicky Hayden      61
6   Randy de Puniet   56
7   Casey Stoner      51
8   Ben Spies         49
9   Marco Simoncelli  39
10  Colin Edwards     34
11  Marco Melandri    32
12  Aleix Espargaro   28
13  Hector Barbera    28
14  Mika Kallio       20
15  Hiroshi Aoyama    18
16  Loris Capirossi   16
17  Alvaro Bautista   14
18  Kousuke Akiyoshi  1

Pos Constructor       Points
1   Yamaha            145
2   Honda             117
3   Ducati            81
4   Suzuki            26
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