The Dutch TT at Assen enabled Casey Stoner to claw back a 25 point deficit to rival Jorge Lorenzo and draw himself level at the top of the championship table, on a day when the latter was taken out at the first corner by Alvaro Bautista.
In an attempt to haul his Gresini Honda back up the grid after a crash in qualifying that left him eighth, Bautista got a flying start and outbraked five rivals down the inside before falling and sliding into Lorenzo’s Yamaha, effectively ending both their races on the spot.
That left Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Stoner clear to storm away from the field in unison. Pedrosa held the lead until lap 16 of 26, when Stoner was able to slip through and pull clear. The Australian's first win since Estoril in early May means he is equal with Lorenzo on 140 points. Pedrosa is 19 points adrift in third.
Remaining factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies had no challenge for the Hondas, and eventually lost third place to Tech 3 Yamaha's Andrea Dovizioso after a race-long tussle.
Dovizioso's team-mate Cal Crutchlow had to go wide to miss the Lorenzo/Bautista crash at the start and dropped to 15th place. The Briton then mounted another fightback charge to recover to fifth.
Nicky Hayden was the top Ducati in sixth, despite an early trip through the chicane gravel. He battled back past Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera and his works team-mate Valentino Rossi, who eventually pitted for a new rear tyre and fell to 13th.
Stefan Bradl's promising weekend came to a sad end when he crashed his LCR Honda out of fourth on the second lap.
With Karel Abraham (Cardion Ducati) withdrawing pre-race due to continuing pain from his hand injury, the prototype field was slender even before the incidents, so top CRT rider Randy de Puniet ended up eighth, fending off Gresini's Michele Pirro. De Puniet's Aspar team-mate Aleix Espargaro had led the pack until an engine problem. Speed Master's Mattia Pasini completed the top 10.
Issue: 165 | May 2013
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