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of the World
June 25, 2011 | By Paul Kelly
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American star Ben Spies took the lead just before the second corner in TT Assen on Saturday, June 25 and rode away to his first career MotoGP victory. It was the first MotoGP victory by an American rider since Nicky Hayden won the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on July 23, 2006 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Spies’ victory came midway through his second full MotoGP season.
It was a strange race today, as it was one of the most comfortable races we had, and it resulted in a win,” Spies said. “I was racing as hard as I could. I have to thank my guys; they gave me a great bike today. At least we’ve won a race now! 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner finished second on a Repsol Honda, 7.697 seconds behind Spies. Stoner increased his points lead to 136-108 over Jorge Lorenzo. Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was fourth, followed by 2006 World Champion and Ducati teammate Hayden. American Colin Edwards finished seventh on a Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.
Spies, from Longview, Texas, started second but lost the lead in Turn 1 to Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Lorenzo. But Spies dove under Lorenzo in the short straightaway before Turn 2 and began to inch away.
Then Spies’ path to victory became much smoother when pole sitter Marco Simoncelli brushed Lorenzo during a dive-bombing pass attempt midway the first lap. The crash-prone Simoncelli then immediately lost control of the front end of his San Carlo Honda Gresini bike and took Lorenzo with him to the asphalt. Both Lorenzo and Simoncelli remounted their wounded bikes and continued, with Lorenzo finishing sixth and Simoncelli ninth. Spies built a 2.5-second lead by the end of Lap 1.
I saw the Simoncelli crash on the TV screen in the corner of my eye, so I knew about it,” Spies said. “I had a good feeling in the bike in the first couple of laps and had to push as much as I could to get a gap. When Casey was pushing back, I still had a few tenths if I needed to. We could always match the pace. Spies more than matched Stoner’s pace during the 26-lap race.
Spies turned the fastest lap of the race on Lap 12, incrementally expanding his cushion with every trip around the historic Assen circuit. The ride produced praise throughout the paddock.
Congratulations to Ben, who’s a fellow American,” Hayden said. “I wish it was me, but he and his team deserve it.
Said Spies’ 2010 teammate, Edwards: "Hats off to Ben because he’s done an awesome job all weekend and rode a great race.
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