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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 06-25-2006, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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** Spoiler ** Dutch TT Thriller

Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden won the battle of the Americans when Camel Yamaha’s Colin Edwards crashed in the final chicane of the Dutch TT in Assen, Holland after leading almost the entire race. The stunning outcome was a severe blow to Edwards, whose first MotoGP win was meters away, and a huge lift to Hayden, the "Kentucky Kid" who's in the midst of a championship battle.

The win was Hayden’s first this season and second of his career and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With championship contenders Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi nursing injuries, Hayden took advantage to balloon his points lead to 42 after eight of 17 rounds.

“It was super-important” to win, Hayden said. “I mean, everybody was telling me ‘Be careful, be careful, just get a few points,’ but today the bike was too good not to go for the win.

“The pace was really fast. Colin (Edwards) was really so smooth, so fast out there. I didn’t know if I had anything for him. I just couldn’t really get close enough. I knew I needed to try something, do something different.

“I changed something up over in one section of the track and it made all the difference in the world. The last few laps I was able to close down on him and get the win.”

Hayden has 144 points to 102 for teammate Dani Pedrosa, a gift third today. Capirossi, a victim of teammate Sete Gibernau last week in Catalunya, drops to third in points with 100 after finishing 15th. Riding with a broken bone in his right wrist-he crashed in Thursday practice-Rossi finished a determined eighth. He’s tied with Fortuna Honda’s Marco Melandri, seventh today, at 98 points.

Starting from the front row, Edwards had led from the start and to the middle of the 24th lap when Hayden came past up the inside. Edwards was late on the brakes, ran off the track, and lost valuable time. By the third split Hayden had 1.1 seconds and there was little over a lap to go.

The gap seemed insurmountable for such a short distance, but Edwards never gave up. The Texan closed right up on the run to the final chicane; then came the fireworks.

Edwards took the lead as they tipped it in for the right entrance to the chicane, the checkered flag in sight. Then on the flick left, Edwards took a defensive line, too defensive it would turn out. Running onto the turf on the inside, his rear tire spun up, and he lost control, rider and bike tumbling to the ground. He re-mounted to finish 13th.

Unbeknownst to Edwards, Hayden had also gone off the track, farther to the gravel on the inside, but his dirt tracking experience came in handy and he hung on for his first victory in Europe, and Honda's 200th premier class win.

Kawasaki’s Shinya Nakano was a surprised and grateful second, his best finish ever, after Edwards crashed out.

“I didn’t know what’s happening the last lap,” he said after finishing 4.884 seconds back. “I just saw some smoke. I didn’t imagine to run across. But I saw a yellow bike and then I understand I got second.

“Anyway, I’m happy to be here not just after qualifying, also disappointing race in Barcelona. I could say Kawasaki is getting better and better.”

Hayden’s teammate Dani Pedrosa lost touch with the leaders early on, then battled LCR Honda’s Casey Stoner in the final stages. Pedrosa finished .030 seconds in front of his fellow MotoGP rookie, with Team Roberts Kenny Roberts Jr. fifth.

“At the beginning I had a lot of problems because I couldn’t overtake (Marco) Melandri and I had to stay there a lot of time, so I lost already the first group in three laps,” Pedrosa said. “And then, anyway, my pace was not that fast as Colin (Edwards) and (Nicky) Hayden.

“It was not the perfect race for me, but anyway I think to be back on the podium is fantastic. I was also lucky because Colin (Edwards) crash in last corner.”

Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins ran second to Edwards until he was passed by Hayden on lap nine of 26. Hopkins’ tires were beginning to give up and he would continue to lose positions until he landed in seventh. He gained one spot back with Edwards’ crash.

Fortuna Honda’s Melandri came seventh, close to five seconds in front of Rossi.

Carlos Checa put the Tech 3 Yamaha ninth, one spot in front of Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen.

MotoGP:

1. Nicky Hayden (Honda)

2. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki)

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

4. Casey Stoner (Honda)

5. Kenny Roberts Jr. (KR211V)

6. John Hopkins (Suzuki)

7. Marco Melandri (Honda)

8. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

9. Carlos Checa (Yamaha)

10. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)

11. Makoto Tamada (Honda)

12. Alex Hofmann (Ducati)

13. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

14. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki)

15. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)


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