by Tracy Hagen
World Champion Casey Stoner roared to victory at the Dutch TT while championship leader Jorge Lorenzo crashed out at the first turn in the most dramatic MotoGP race of the year. Stoner’s Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, finished second with Monster Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso surged to third in the final laps.
Stoner, a two-time winner in 2012, was a bit of a long shot going into the race after crashing hard on Saturday and severely injuring his right foot. To say that the Australian was happy to win and leave Holland tied on points with Lorenzo is an understatement.
Dovizioso’s podium finish came at the expense of factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies. Spies finished fourth, though the Texan was looking good in third until his rear tire lost two “Subway-size” chunks of rubber late in the race.
The Dutch TT may go down as the most pivotal race in the 2012 season, all because of what happened at the start. Pedrosa led the riders down to the right-handed Turn 1, followed by Stoner and Monster Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista took the inside line to the corner, at a high rate of speed. Bautista lost the front-end as soon as he grabbed the brake lever, and his Honda slide across the track and knocked Lorenzo and his Yamaha into the air. Crutchlow turned left, rode cautiously through the gravel, and re-joined the race in thirteenth place.
“I haven’t got a good start all year, but then I finally got one,” said Crutchlow. “Some dickhead in the first corner decides to be a bandit, same as last year.” Cruchlow was referring to the late Marco Simoncelli’s crash at Assen in 2011 that coincidentally knocked down Lorenzo.
The race was messy for a number of other riders. Stephan Bradl crashed out on the second lap and CRT class riders Yonny Hernandez and Aleix Espargaro crashed on laps 6 and 15, respectively.
Riders that nearly crashed included Crutchlow who ran off the track at Turn 1 and later on lap 8 while looking for a way around all three Ducatis, Nicky Hayden who ran off the track at least twice on the factory Ducati, and Hector Barbera who was thrown out of the seat of his Ducati at the chicane.
The day did not go to plan for Bridgestone as well. In addition to Ben Spies having tire problems, Valentino Rossi pitted on lap 16 for a new rear tire. Ironically, the hard rear tires seem to have more problems with disintegration than the soft rear tires, which were the tires fitted to both Repsol Hondas.
Though Stoner and Lorenzo are tied on points, Stoner appears to have an advantage on Lorenzo in the engine department. Lorenzo’s Yamaha belched enormous plumes of white smoke while it slid the gravel. MotoGP riders are only allowed six engines for the year and Lorenzo probably won’t be using that one again, ever.
Next race: Germany, July 8.