The second half of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship will start with Dani Pedrosa
back on top of the standings, ahead of Valentino Rossi, and reigning title holder Casey Stoner
just 29 points from the lead.
Rossi began the Dutch TT at Assen eleven points clear of Pedrosa, but fell on the opening lap, while Stoner - who had been a distant 45 points from Rossi at the start of the event - romped to his second victory in less than a week and third of the year so far.
Pole sitter Stoner lost the lead to Pedrosa at turn one, but calmly overtook the Spaniard into the final chicane at the end of the opening lap and rode into the distance thereafter - the Ducati star's official victory margin a huge 11.310secs by the time the chequered flag was waved 26 laps later.
Pedrosa and Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden
maintained second and third positions almost
to the finish - Hayden's pneumatic-valve RCV losing power on the exit of the very final turn, costing the American his first podium of the season.
Colin Edwards, who lost victory to Hayden during a final turn showdown at Assen 2006, was appropriately the rider to gain from Hayden's misfortune - the Texan concluding a hard fought race with his second podium of the season for Tech 3 Yamaha after dropping back as far as twelfth on the opening lap.
Rossi, who began the race eleven points ahead of Pedrosa, had made a slow start from third on the grid, then lost the back of his M1 on the entry to a tight left hand hairpin - the rear wheel whipping around and swiping Randy de Puniet
from his LCR Honda.
de Puniet appeared to sustain a leg injury, but Rossi was eventually able to rejoin a distant last - albeit with a broken gear lever - and was soon on a charge to try and limit the championship damage.
Accidents for rookie Alex de Angelis
and the lone Kawasaki of Anthony West
put Rossi 13th and the seven time world champion finally caught twelfth placed Marco Melandri
with eight laps to go.
Rossi overtook his fellow Italian at the end of the lap, to roars of approval from the 95,000 fans, then set about bridging the three second gap to Toni Elias. The Doctor demoted the Alice rider with four laps remaining, but eleventh was as high as the #46 could climb.
Rossi is now four points behind Pedrosa and 25 ahead of Stoner.