Assen MotoGP: Casey Stoner content to extend title advantage

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Casey Stoner will probably never be happier to finish second after his lead in the MotoGP world championship was increased to a healthy 28-points in Assen.

Realising he didn’t have the pace to match runaway leader Ben Spies, the Repsol Honda rider settled for 20 valuable points with closest rival Jorge Lorenzo losing more ground after a first lap incident with Marco Simoncelli.

Stoner never seriously threatened Spies as the Texan romped to his first MotoGP success, but the Australian admitted he’d not felt it necessary to take risks knowing that Lorenzo was out of podium contention.

Stoner, who was trying to win four successive races for the first time in his career, said: “The way the race unfolded I thought this result is falling into my lap, so let’s not be greedy and take too big a risk and have it all collapse on me. 

“I brought it home but Ben was riding so well and so fast and it would have a big effort to pull him back. He was running some pretty good times.

“This was the day to think a lot about the championship. After a first lap incident like that and with my bad start and then have this result come my way is good for the championship, even though I was going to be there for the fight with Marco and Jorge.

” After being stuck behind Andrea (Dovizioso) for a lap and half it was little tough to get everything warmed up going so slow behind someone. I wanted to be going faster and this held my progress up. 

“I wouldn’t have lost as much ground to Ben and it might have been easier to get on the back of him and we don’t know what would have happened after that. But at end of the race Ben was really strong and my weakness was kicking in.”

Stoner said he was hindered slightly by injuries he picked up in a heavy crash in Friday morning’s practice session but said his physical condition wasn’t the prime reason why Spies was unchallenged for the entire 26-lap race.

Stoner added: “We lost a big amount of time to Ben in those first laps and by the time I got into second he had a huge gap and I tried pushing early on and sort of made a few mistakes.

“Every time I made little mistake the championship would pop up in the back of my mind and I’d just sort of back it off a little bit. Unfortunately at about halfway through the race my shoulder started getting pretty tired and I tried not braking quite as hard and carrying a bit more corner speed, but with the soft front tyre it couldn’t handle it.

“So I had to change my riding style but by that time Ben had really got into his rhythm, started pulling some really good lap times and pulling a gap.  I kept him under pressure a little bit but I wasn’t going to chase him down.”

For more news from the Assen race, see the June 29 issue of MCN.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt