Stoner strikes back at epic Dutch TTComment on this story
Works Honda rider Casey Stoner held off challenges from team mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso to win an incident-packed Dutch TT at Assen on Saturday.
The race started with high drama as Honda privateer Álvaro Bautista took out Yamaha's championship leader Jorge Lorenzo in the first corner, putting an end to both their challenges. Lorenzo was clearly upset about the incident, which has been put under investigation by race direction.
That left the works Honda pair of Pedrosa and Stoner to debate the lead, with Lorenzo's team mate Ben Spies in hot pursuit.
Two laps in Honda rider Stefan Bradl crashed out of fourth, making this the first race he has not finished in his rookie season, just as Ducati's Nicky Hayden run into the gravel in the last corner, but managed to wrestle his bike back on to the circuit.
On lap eight Dovizioso went past Spies into third, but his team mate Cal Crutchlow, who was ninth after taking avoiding action at the start, was having a tricky time trying to pass the Ducatis of Hayden, Valentino Rossi and privateer Héctor Barberá.
On lap 13 Crutchlow passed Barberá for seventh, Spies made a move on Dovizioso, relegating the Italian to fourth. A few laps later Crutchlow passed Rossi for sixth and set about reeling in Hayden.
On lap 17 Rossi pitted with a chunk missing from his rear tyre, which was replace before he rejoined the race a lap down.
Meanwhile, at the front, Stoner made his move on Pedrosa as the latter seemed to be struggling. In fact, with six laps to go, both Hondas were slowing, but they still had a seven-second cushion over Spies, who was lapping a second a lap quicker.
Three laps before the end Dovizioso caught up to Spies once more as the pair was involved in yet another battle for the final podium spot. Dovizioso made his move going into Turn 1 on the final lap, and held on until the line.
But the glory went Stoner, who took the chequered flag to go equal on points at the top of the championship with Lorenzo, with Pedrosa second Dovizioso third.
Suter rider Marc Márquez who took a hard-fought win from Andrea Iannone (Speed Up) and Scott Redding (Kalex), but it was Pol Espargaro (Kalex), Dominique Aegerter (Suter) and Iannone who got the best of a dramatic start as Suter riders Ratthapark Wilairot and Tom Lüthi collided on the first lap, putting an end to Lüthi's race - and then, seconds later, Espargaró crashed out of the lead as he lost the back end of his bike.
Three laps in, Iannone grabbed the lead, just ahead of Aegerter, Kalex rider Scott Redding and Márquez. On lap seven, however, Redding sneaked past the Swiss rider and set off after Iannone, who looked comfortable at the front.
A couple of laps later Márquez, who looked as if Aegerter was holding him up, also got by and began to chase the leading pair.
With 14 laps to go Iannone had pulled out a three-second lead and Márquez and Redding disputed second in the dice of the race, while Espargaró's team mate Esteve Rabat joined the pursuing pack in fifth ahead of Corsi, who had lost the tail section of his machine early on Rabat took Redding 11 laps from home to move into third, and began reeling in Márquez, while veteran Alex de Angelis (FTR) worked his way up to fourth.
A lap later Corsi crashed out, but Márquez had closed the gap significantly to Iannone and looked to be catching the Italian quickly. On the same lap Redding re-found some pace and took Rabat for third.
With three laps left the scrap at the front began, with Márquez making his first pass, only for Iannone to strike back immediately. A lap later Marquez did it again - with the same result. The two were elbow to elbow as they headed into final lap, with Márquez taking the lead on the outside of Turn 1. Iannone fought back but couldn't make it stick as he ran wide after the two almost touched.
Márquez came home less than half a second ahead of Iannone, with Redding well back in third but only just ahead of Rabat, De Angelis and Smith after a desperate battle for the final podium spot.
Márquez now leads the championship with Iannone second.
In one of the most hotly contested Moto3 races this season, Maverick Viñales (FTR Honda) stormed to victory in sunny conditions ahead of KTM riders Sandro Cortese and Danny Kent.
Kent and Hector Faubel (Kalex KTM) led the pack away from the star as Kent's team mate Cortese dropped back to fourth from pole. The first three laps were a frantic affair, with Cortese, Viñales and FTR Honda rider Niccolò Antonelli all fighting their way to the front.
They were soon put under pressure, however, by Niklas Ajo (KTM), Louis Rossi (FTR Honda) and Luis Salom (Kalex KTM).
With 15 laps to go, Kent, who had slowed briefly, pushed his way up the field again and passed his team mate Cortese for the lead. This was short lived, however, as Viñales took advantage of the two fighting and nipped into the lead.
With 12 laps to go a leading group of six rider started to pull out a small gap at the front with Viñales and Cortese leading the pack, closely followed by Kent, Salom, Rossi and Alex Rins' Suter Honda.
The fight for the lead became even more intense towards the end, as Cortese and Kent went fairing to fairing in their pursuit of Viñales, with Cortese almost taking out his team mate at one point.
The last lap was one of best ever seen in Moto3 as positions changed frantically in the final corners, with Viñales getting the final slingshot over the line - but it took a photo analysis to decide the next three positions between Salom, Kent and Cortese Second eventually went to Cortese, with Kent taking the final step on the rostrum - his first Grand Prix podium.
The next MotoGP will be the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring on 8 July.
RESULTS - MOTOGP
1 Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda - 41min19.855
2 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda +4.965sec
3 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Yamaha +11.994
4 Ben Spies (US) Yamaha +14.775
5 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha +22.074
6 Nicky Hayden (US) Ducati +31.660
7 Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati +59.107
8 Nicky Hayden (US) Ducati +1min 04.441
9 Michele Pirro (Italy) FTR +1min06.980
10 Mattia Pasini (Italy) ART +1 min25.087
11 Danilo Petrucci (Italy) Ioda +1min32.103
12 Ivan Silva (Spain) BQR +1min33.797
13 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati +1 lap
14 James Ellison (Britain) ART +1 lap
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Suter - 39min43.170
2 Andrea Iannone (Italy) Speed Up +0.405sec
3 Scott Redding (Britain) Kalex +7.331
4 Esteve Rabat (Spain) Kalex +7.630
5 Alex de Angelis (San Marino) FTR +7.852
6 Bradley Smith (Britain) Tech 3 +8.578
7 Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) Suter +10.017
8 Johann Zarco (France) Motobi +14.481
9 Toni Elias (Spain) Suter +14.714
10 Mika Kallio (Finland) Kalex +14.734
1 Maverick Vinales (Spain) FTR Honda - 38min45.432
2 Sandro Cortese (Germany) KTM +0.831sec
3 Danny Kent (Britain) KTM +0.842
4 Luis Salom (Spain) Kalex KTM +0.843
5 Louis Rossi (France) FTR Honda +1.352
6 Alex Rins (Spain) Suter Honda +5.033
7 Alexis Masbou (France) Honda +7.817
8 Niklas Ajo (Finland) KTM +7.855
9 Efren Vazquez (Spain) FTR Honda +8.037
10 Miguel Oliveira (Portugal) Suter Honda +8.243