Saturday, June 24, 2006
Colin Edwards II rode the last lap of his life at Assen and got no reward for it.
He made one tiny error and paid for it by losing his best ever chance of a MotoGP victory. The race came down to a duel between Colin and Nicky Hayden. Colin led the whole race and looked to have the situation well under control. Then, suddenly, in the third intermediate Nicky changed something (he won’t say what) and the gap was closed to almost nothing. Two laps from home Nicky hit the front. On the penultimate lap Colin ran straight on at the chicane and used the tarmac track through the gravel trap. He didn’t gain any advantage so the race was still on. However he was a seemingly insurmountable 1.2 seconds down starting he last lap.
Attention switched to the battle for fourth between Stoner, Pedrosa and Roberts. Then, at the second checkpoint the gap was half- a-second. Attention switched back to the lead. On the high-speed serpentine run back to the final chicane, Colin got himself in front and on the inside for the first, righthand part. Both men went in hot: Colin ran across the track and onto the Astroturf on the outside of the curbing. His misfortune was to touch the throttle while he was on the plastic. The Texan went down in sight of the flag. Nicky was having his own drama. He found neutral rather than second gear going into the chicane and ran across the gravel. It turned out that Colin’s mistake was bigger than Nicky’s.
All this drama tended to obscure Shinya Nakano’s ride to second place; once he’d hunted down pole man Hopkins it was a lonely ride but it gave Kawasaki their best ever finish in MotoGP.
Further down the field Marco Melandri rode to a miraculous and no doubt painful seventh just one place in front of a patched up Valentino Rossi. The Doctor benefited from the attentions of Doctor Costa. What looked like an impossibility yesterday only looked mildly difficult today. It was noticeable that Valentino could outbrake people with ease in the righthander of Turn 1 but rode like your grandmother in the new, supertight De Strubben hairpin – a lefthander. The other casualty of Barcelona, Capirossi, struggled to get the last available point for fifteenth place.
So Nicky now leads the championship by 42 points from his team mate Dani Pedrosa who inherited third place today. Rossi is 46 points behind Nicky and optimistic about the upcoming races. His view of Nicky is that while he is consistent in results he is not when it comes to lap times.
The championship is not over.