A look back at Assen

Thursday, 22 April 2010 09:11 GMT
A look back at Assen

Race 2 was a close fight between Haga, Toseland and Bayliss. The Japanese rider went into the lead on lap 9, but after only a couple of laps in front he was forced to retire with a blown engine. It was up to Toseland and Bayliss to play their cards in the last three laps: Toseland started attacking Bayliss on lap 20, in the part of track that goes from Meeuwenmeer turn to the last chicane. His Honda's higher speed let him pass Bayliss in acceleration, but Troy was in front again under braking. The couple exchanged places four times in this piece of track and on the following lap they repeated the same show, turn after turn. On the last lap Toseland was more determined and was able to keep the lead at the entry of the last chicane. Sadly for him the race didn't end there: Bayliss had a better acceleration out of the corner and pipped James at the finish line by nine thousandths of a second.

2008 - Troy Bayliss scored his first Dutch pole since 2001 and took the lead after a perfect start, followed by Kagayama, Haga, Xaus and Checa. During the opening lap Xaus was able to pass Haga for second, but the Japanese rider was having none of it and tried to take the place back on the following lap. The move didn't work and Noriyuki clipped Xaus on a slow left-hander: they both slid out of the race. On lap 5 Kagayama hit the front and was able to set the pace in the central part of the race, with Bayliss, Neukirchner, Checa and Corser queuing up behind him. The turning point was a small mistake by the Japanese rider at the exit of the chicane on lap 12: he lost the rear momentarily and Bayliss took the opportunity to take the lead. Troy immediately set a higher pace, stretching the front runners: Kagayama and Corser fell back, with the latter suffering from rear-end grip, while Neukirchner and Checa had a slightly superior pace, but lost contact from Bayliss after a handful of laps. The Ducati rider went on to win all alone, while Checa took second from Neukirchner on lap 18.

In race two Bayliss took the lead at the start, followed by Haga and Xaus; the latter fell into the clutches of Max Neukirchner, who took third on the third lap, joining the leading duo, who were gradually pulling away from the rest. Towards mid-race Neukirchner had to slow down due to front-end lack of grip; Bayliss was able to lead Haga comfortably, a few lengths separating the two. This situation changed in the following stages, when Bayliss dropped his pace, allowing Haga to close in. The Japanese rider tried to take the lead up to the final corner: the pair came out towards the finish line side by side and Bayliss won by only 0.082" from Noriyuki. The third place on the podium was taken by Checa, who had better pace than the fading pair Xaus-Neukirchner in the final stages.

2009 - Spies hit the headlines once more in Assen, scoring his fourth straight pole in front of Jakub Smrz, Leon Haslam and Noriyuki Haga. Unlike his Valencia starts, Spies started well and took the lead in front of Neukirchner, with Haga in third and Smrz who gradually faded towards the middle of the pack. Haga quickly established a pace that in a handful of laps took him to the front and, one second behind him, Leon Haslam was making similar progess. On lap 7, right after Haga reached Spies and Neukirchner, the German fell at the chicane, his bike nearly missing Haslam, who in turn was approaching Haga. Leon was able to reach the leading duo after eleven laps and just a couple of laps later Haga started to challenge Spies for the lead. The first attempts were unsuccessful, but a slight mistake on a slow left turn by Spies let Haga through, the American lost momentum and after a couple of turns also Haslam went past. Spies seemed not able to fight back and fell behind, only to resume his pace and get back on Haslam's tail by lap sixteen. On the twentieth lap Spies made his move on Haslam, the two stayed side by side for three turns before the American was past. Everything was set for a final lap shootout between Haga and Spies. After Haga emerged in front at Duikersloot turn, everyone expected the American to challenge the Japanese rider at the final chicane, but Ben took the lead with an unpredictable move on the fast fifth-gear right hander "Meeuwenmeer". Haga was caught by surprise, had to back off and wasn't able to fight back at the chicane. Spies won in front of him and Haslam, Sykes was a distant fourth with the other works Yamaha.

Race two looked to be over pretty soon, as Spies took the lead at the start, but on the second lap he crashed out while attempting to pull away from Haga. The Japanese rider then simply had no opposition as in two laps he carved out a two seconds advantage that put him clear of the rest; he eventually kept this lead until the chequered flag to take a solitary win. Haga's team-mate Fabrizio had to fight with Leon Haslam and Jakub Smrz for second for the first ten laps, then Fabrizio had to relinquish second to Haslam, who quickly pulled away from him: Fabrizio was again suffering from pain in his arm and on the last lap he had to slow down dramatically and let Smrz past as well.