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Stoner wins Dutch TT, Rossi falls
28 June 2008
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
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.
Fifth place went to JiR Team Scot's Andrea Dovizioso, who had qualified just eleventh on the grid, while fellow rookie Jorge Lorenzo delivered some impressive closing laps to cross the line just behind his former 250GP rival on the Michelin-shod Fiat Yamaha.
Chris Vermeulen held fourth in the early stages, but eventually brought the sole Rizla Suzuki home in seventh, with Shinya Nakano eighth and James Toseland - who suffered an almost identical accident to Rossi on the first lap of last Sunday's British Grand Prix - ninth.
Sylvain Guintoli finished where he started, in tenth, but was all over Toseland's Tech 3 Yamaha on the final lap.
Alice team-mate Elias, ruled out of the three previous Dutch TTs due to injuries, finished his first MotoGP class race at Assen in twelfth, with Melandri 13th and last.
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