Whatever happens, Casey Stoner will continue to lead the MotoGP World Championship after next weekend's Mugello round.

The Repsol Honda star pushed his points advantage over the one-race win mark (25) by finishing second to Ben Spies in Saturday's Dutch TT, while closest title rival Jorge Lorenzo was left to claim a comeback sixth after a first-lap tangle with Marco Simoncelli.

Stoner witness that accident and, having also suffered a cold-tyre fall on Friday morning, was relative cautious in the opening laps. Once up to speed, Spies was already several seconds ahead, and a sore Stoner was happy enough to settle for second.

"Today we would have liked to challenge for the win, but the way this weekend has gone for us I'm really very happy for a podium finish and to take some valuable points," said Stoner, now 28 points clear of Lorenzo after seven rounds.

"Yesterday we weren't happy with the bike the set up, so today we made some changes and tried to get some more feeling, but unfortunately in the warm up we didn't get a proper chance to try it, which meant we started the race with a set up we didn't really know.

"After the crash yesterday I'm a little bit sore, in the middle part of the race I started to have some problems in the left hand corners with the shoulder but in general we knew we didn't really have the pace to stay with Ben.

"I tried everything possible to catch him, but he was able to retain the advantage and start to pull some more, so my congratulations to Ben, he rode a great race, but for us it was just important to get points today".

Stoner's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso finished third, 20sec from Stoner and 27sec from Spies.

After missing the past three grands prix, long-time Repsol rider Dani Pedrosa will rejoin his team-mates for the Italian Grand Prix.

Hiroshi Aoyama replaced the Spaniard at Assen, where he rode to eighth place.

"First of all I'd like to thank the whole Repsol Honda Team and HRC, and I'm sorry for the accident yesterday!" said Aoyama. "It was quite a tough weekend due to the conditions and situation, not ideal to go racing in but we couldn't do anything about this.

"We tried our best during this short space of time and I'm happy I enjoyed the race even if in a lot of pain after yesterday's crash. In the race it was quite tough, but from mid-race I was able to improve lap by lap and achieve good consistency.

"The team did a very good job so thanks again to them as I have had a very nice and special experience riding Dani's bike. This experience has taught me things and made me a better rider, I hope one day I can return to this team.

"Dani will return next race and I am sure he will be happy to be back on his bike!"

First practice for the Italian Grand Prix takes place on Friday morning.


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