Assen MotoGP: James Toseland jubilant with top six

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James Toseland was jubilant after he stormed to his best result of a troubled 2009 season in today’s Dutch MotoGP race.

The British rider ended a titanic midfield scrap in sixth position to claim his best result since the Australian GP in Phillip Island last season.

Boosted by having Yamaha boss Masahiko Nakajima as a constant companion in his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage all weekend, the 28-year-old shrugged off a warm-up crash to play a leading role in one of the mostly fiercely fought scraps witnessed in the 800cc MotoGP era.

A poor start dropped Toseland down to 12th on the opening lap before he produced a brilliant fightback, surging to the front of a classic scrap for sixth on lap 11.

Toseland rode superbly under intense pressure with Mika Kallio, Nicky Hayden, Randy de Puniet, Alex de Angelis, Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi all chasing the Yorkshireman for the second half of the race.

Finn Kallio briefly dropped Toseland back to seventh on laps 16 and 17 and again on the penultimate lap before the gripping battle reached a dramatic finale.

Planning a last corner attack on Kallio to claim sixth, Toseland’s masterplan came unstuck when Toni Elias produced an aggressive at Turn 10.

With Toseland forced to pick his YZR-M1 up, factory Suzuki rider Capirossi also surged through, relegating Toseland to seventh.

But Kallio crashed heavily three corners from home and he claimed sixth when Elias and Capirossi tangled at the last corner.

Elias and Capirossi ran off into the gravel and the move cost the Spaniard a 20-second penalty that dropped him down to 12th and moved the veteran Italian back into ninth.

Toseland didn’t mind though as he took advantage of the chaos to finish sixth and he said: ““I was a bit nervous on the start because I’d no experience with a new clutch set-up we were running.

"The crash in the warm-up meant I didn’t try it before the race, but I did a pretty good start but still lost three or four places.

"I knew I’d got a pretty good race set-up so just tried to stay calm and in the first couple of laps I took advantage of that to get into the top ten.

"It was an incredible battle for most of the race and I knew I wasn’t much stronger than the rest and I knew if I got to the front that it wasn’t going to be a case of me pulling away.

"I knew once I was at the front of the bunch that it would be a case of protecting it. That’s exactly what I did but it was nearly all spoiled on the last lap.

"I was getting ready to pass Mika at the last corner when Elias came under me at Turn 10.

"That let Loris through too and I’d gone from sixth to ninth! It was so chaotic I didn’t even see Kallio crash and I thought when Elias dived under Loris at the last chicane that they might run off.

"Fortunately for me they did and I took advantage of it, and leading that group for so long I think I deserved sixth.

"It has been great to work with Mr Nakajima and I feel quite privileged to have his help and it just shows that I’m still on Yamaha’s thoughts and they want me to get up to speed.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt