Ben Spies came into Assen just ninth in the world championship, having crashed out of half of the six races this season - but left as a MotoGP race winner.

After two podiums with Tech 3 Yamaha in his rookie grand prix season, the highly-rated Texan had endured a tough - and at times plain unlucky - start to his Factory Yamaha career, after being drafted in to replace Valentino Rossi.

Spies looked every inch a MotoGP winner as he converted his first front row start of the season into first place at turn one of the legendary Dutch TT, then exploited a hole in the field created by a clash between Marco Simoncelli and Jorge Lorenzo.

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While his rivals were still building speed on the cold and moist track, Spies rode flat out to build a four-second advantage over world championship leader - and four-time 2011 race winner - Casey Stoner.

Stoner's Repsol Honda occasionally gained ground once up to speed, but the 2010 World Superbike champion was more than able to respond and took victory by a huge 7.697sec at the end of the 26 laps.

Riding in a special red-and-white livery, to celebrate Yamaha's 50th anniversary of grand prix racing, the ever-composed Spies looked relieved more than triumphant as he crossed the finish line.

The 26-year-old later spoke of just how important the day had been to him.

"It's special - this is the biggest win for me and as good as it gets," said Spies. "This track is a track I grew up watching my heroes race on, and with this one being the 50th anniversary of Yamaha and with the special colours and all the legends watching, it all came together.

"It was a strange race as it was one of the most comfortable we had and it resulted in a win. I saw the Simoncelli crash on the TV screen in the corner of my eye so I knew about it. 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. To do it this weekend with the 50th colours gives a little bit of pressure but it came out good! 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!"

Spies is the first American to win a grand prix since Nicky Hayden in 2006 and the first former World Superbike rider to win a MotoGP race since Troy Bayliss in the same year.

The #11 joins Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa in winning a 2011 grand prix and will head for next weekend's Italian Grand Prix joint sixth in the championship.

"Ben rode a really fantastic race today, we are very proud and I don't think his first GP win could have been more perfect," stated team director Massimo Meregalli. "He was consistently fast all weekend and we were confident that he would deliver a really strong performance today."