American superbike convert Ben Spies has taken his first ever MotoGP victory with a dominant performance in Saturday’s Dutch TT at Assen.
The Texan became the first former World Superbike rider to win a MotoGP race since Troy Bayliss in 2006, by converting his first front-row start of the year into the lead at turn one, then bolting away from the field.
Spies’ cause was helped when pole sitter Marco Simoncelli’s nightmare run of race-day incidents continued as he high-sided after just a few corners – while passing Jorge Lorenzo for second place at the hairpin – taking a furious Lorenzo down with him.
That incident put clear air between Spies and world championship leader Casey Stoner, one of many riders to struggle with a lack of heat in the rear tyre this weekend.
While the Repsol Honda rider was still building up grip in the cool (but dry) conditions, Spies was flat out – and held a 3.5sec lead after just three laps.
Stoner later began matching Spies, but by then the Factory Yamaha rider – in his second season of grand prix – could afford to measure his advantage over the Australian.
Former WSBK champion Spies, who had only taken one podium from the first six rounds of the year, guided his special red-and-white M1 to victory by 7.697sec over Stoner at the end of the 26 laps.
Stoner’s Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso quickly dropped away from Stoner, but his third place was never under serious threat.
Valentino Rossi’s first race on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1 – which combines this year’s 800cc engine with next year’s (1000cc) chassis and a new seamless transmission gearbox – saw the Italian megastar rise from 11th on the grid to fifth at the end of lap one.
The seven-time MotoGP champion then passed Cal Crutchlow for fourth, a position he held for the rest of the race, finishing three-seconds behind countryman Dovizioso – but more than 30 seconds away from victory.
RESULT FROM ASSEN:
1. Ben Spies, USA, Yamaha Factory Racing 41m 44.659s
2. Casey Stoner, AUS, Repsol Honda 41m 52.356s
3. Andrea Dovizioso, ITA, Repsol Honda 42m 12.165s
4. Valentino Rossi, ITA, Ducati Marlboro 42m 15.343s
5. Nicky Hayden, USA, Ducati Marlboro 42m 27.831s
6. Jorge Lorenzo, ESP, Yamaha Factory Racing 42m 29.195s
7. Colin Edwards, USA, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 42m 52.771s
8. Hiroshi Aoyama, JPN, Repsol Honda 42m 55.412s
9. Marco Simoncelli, ITA, San Carlo Honda Gresini 43m 9.584s
10. Toni Elias, ESP, LCR Honda 43m 10.875s
11. Alvaro Bautista, ESP, Rizla Suzuki 43m 23.125s
12. Hector Barbera, ESP, Mapfre Aspar 42m 11.012s
13. Kousuke Akiyoshi, JPN, San Carlo Honda Gresini 42m 58.437s
14. Cal Crutchlow, GBR, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 43m 7.755s
Randy de Puniet, FRA, Pramac Racing
Karel Abraham, CZE, Cardion AB Motoracing
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1 Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda Team, 136
2 Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, 108
3 Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda Team, 99
4 Valentino Rossi, Ducati Marlboro Team, 81
5 Nicky Hayden, Ducati Marlboro Team, 71
6 Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team, 61
= Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing, 61
8 Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini, 51
9 Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 46
10 Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini, 39
11 Héctor Barberá, Mapfre Aspar Team, 35
12 Toni Elías, LCR Honda MotoGP, 34
13 Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing, 33
14 Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 32
15 Álvaro Bautista, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 27
16 Loris Capirossi, Pramac Racing Team, 22
17 Randy de Puniet, Pramac Racing Team, 10
18 John Hopkins, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 6
19 Kousuke Akiyoshi, San Carlo Honda Gresini, 3
Photo courtesy Yamaha