MotoGP 2011 – Round Seven – Assen
Stoner leads MotoGP procession to the Cathedral
Round 7 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, the Iveco TT Assen, keeps the action coming thick and fast as Championship leader Casey Stoner aims to defend his newly-found position at the top of the standings. The 2011 campaign is now one-third through its 18-round course, laying the way for a busy mid-section of the schedule to commence this weekend. Having enjoyed a weekend off following back-to-back rounds at Catalunya and Silverstone, the focus returns to business with the 81st Dutch TT event.
Stoner has been installed as the Championship leader following an eventful Silverstone race in which the Repsol Honda rider secured his fourth win of the season, in the process becoming the first Honda rider to win three successive MotoGP races since Valentino Rossi in 2003. The Australian now holds an 18-point lead over reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who crashed out of the wet Silverstone race and will be desperate to recoup lost ground on his rival.
In failing to finish the British GP Lorenzo brought to an end a phenomenal run of 25 successive top-four finishes, a sequence which started towards the end of the 2009 season. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider won last year’s Assen race, a result which means he has now tasted victory in all three classes in which he has ridden at the famous circuit, and the aim will be clear this weekend.
Following close on the heels of Lorenzo is Andrea Dovizioso, and the Repsol Honda rider took his second podium of the campaign in the rain-soaked Silverstone race – he is 15 points behind Lorenzo – whilst Valentino Rossi is the same margin of points down on his fellow Italian in fourth in the standings. The Ducati Team rider is now on his longest winless streak since moving up to the premier class in 2000 having gone nine races without a victory, but as is the case at many of the circuits on the World Championship calendar he has a strong record at Assen. Rossi has won there five times in the premier class but missed last year’s race due to injury, and will be targeting a second podium of 2011 this weekend.
Despite having missed the last two rounds Dani Pedrosa remains fifth in the Championship standings, but the Repsol Honda rider’s participation this weekend is yet to be confirmed. Pedrosa underwent further surgery on his injured right collarbone last Thursday to fix a small fragment of bone which had become dislodged, and will discuss his fitness with his medical team before making a decision on whether he takes part.
Assen is a track at which Nicky Hayden has fared well in previous years, the American having taken a victory there in his Championship-winning 2006 season, but on the Ducati he is yet to finish higher than seventh at the Dutch venue. Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will ride for the first time in the premier class at Assen after missing last year’s race through injury, but the Japanese rider took a victory in the 250cc class in 2009 so knows what is required from the technical layout.
Colin Edwards scored an incredible podium at Silverstone just eight days after breaking his collarbone and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider returns to the site at which he has twice stood on the rostrum. The American’s team-mate Cal Crutchlow suffered a similar injury in a qualifying crash at Silverstone and after undergoing surgery last week will have to wait to make a decision as to whether he tests his physical condition at Assen.
A first premier class podium continues to elude Marco Simoncelli but the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider will be confident he can finally end the wait at Assen after proving his pace repeatedly this season, whilst Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will be eager to rediscover the podium form he displayed at Catalunya after a crash in Britain.
Rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) continues to improve in his debut season and is schedule to make his 100th GP start this weekend. Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) will aim to break back into the top ten at Assen, whilst Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) will be keen to follow up his season’s best finish to date of fifth from Silverstone. Likewise Toni Elías scored his best result of 2011 so far with eighth in the UK and the LCR Honda rider and his team will hope that the progression continues, as will Pramac Racing pair Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet.
The first practice session for the MotoGP class at the Iveco TT Assen is scheduled to get underway at 10.10am local time on Thursday, with race day on Saturday.
Stefan Bradl heads to the Netherlands following his fourth Moto2 victory of the season at Silverstone. The Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider has a superb record thus far in 2011, entering the Dutch TT with a 62 point lead, the greatest number of points that any rider has led a Grand Prix World Championship after just six races in any class of GP racing. His five successive poles have not been seen in the intermediate-class since Toni Elías in 2003.
Ioda Racing Project’s Simone Corsi is second in the Championship, and is the only rider in Moto2 outside of Bradl to have scored points at all of the six races this year. Though only finishing 12th at the Dutch TT last year, he crossed the line seven places ahead of Bradl in 19th. Moving into third place in the Championship hunt, nine points behind Corsi, is Yuki Takahashi, who finished 10th last year in the Moto2 race at Assen from 13th place on the grid. The Japanese had his best result at the Dutch TT with a 6th place in the 250cc race in 2006.
Fourth with 49 points is Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, who, although he started the season strong, has finished outside the points twice in the last four races. The Italian will be looking to turn his season around at the Dutch TT, where he positively dominated in last year’s Moto2 race, qualifying on pole and leading every lap of the race.
Iannone is matched in Championship points by Mapfre Aspar rider Julián Simón, who is recovering from surgery on a fractured tibia and fibula he sustained at the Catalunya GP. Simón will have a new replacement rider in the form of Elena Rosell for the upcoming Assen GP. The 25 year-old Rosell currently races in the Stock Extreme series of the CEV Buckler (Spanish National Championship) and will be the first woman to compete in the intermediate class since Katja Poensgen took part in the 250cc championship eight years ago.
Thomas Luthi is sitting sixth in the Championship points and proved to be a strong rider here when he finished third in the 2010 Moto2 race while suffering from shoulder injuries received in a motocross training accident. One point behind the Swiss rider is Bradley Smith, whose incredible second place after starting from 28th on the grid at Silverstone moved him into the top Rookie position in the class, two points ahead of Marc Márquez. Catalan rider Márquez won the 125cc race at the Dutch TT last year from a pole position start.
The Moto2 class will feature two wildcards for the Assen race, Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (EAB Racing) and South African rider Steven Odendaal of MS Racing.
The chasing pack aim to close in on Championship leader Nico Terol at the Iveco TT Assen, with Jonas Folger leading the group and buoyed by his first World Championship win in the previous round. Having become the youngest ever German rider to win a Grand Prix (at Silverstone), Folger’s (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) title challenge received a timely boost with a valuable victory in the wet British GP and the 17 year-old German now heads to Assen aiming to put more pressure on Championship leader Nico Terol.
Bankia Aspar rider Terol remains a healthy 35 points clear at the top of the standings but his eighth place in the British rain did end an impressive record-equalling run of 14 consecutive podium finishes in the 125cc category. That will matter little to the Spaniard however as he is well aware of the importance of collecting more points as he protects his strengthening title challenge.
With Folger in second his fellow rider in the Ajo set-up Johann Zarco is placed third in the standings and the 20 year-old will be more eager than ever to emulate his colleague and secure a first GP win. Zarco’s best finish at Assen in his two previous visits has been 12th (last year), but the Avant-AirAsia-Ajo rider is looking ever more likely to take his maiden victory having been denied in Catalunya, and comes into this round off the back of his best-ever finish of second in Britain.
Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) sits just two points behind in the standings and the German will aim for a return to the podium positions, whilst Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) and Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) are closely matched as well. Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) scored his first podium of the season in the previous round and will expect to kick on from there, whilst Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) will want to bounce back from a disappointing DNF last time out.
Aiming for a strong follow up to the last race will be Spanish youngsters Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) and Adrián Martín (Bankia Aspar) who placed fourth and sixth respectively at Silverstone, whilst British trio Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing) and Taylor Mackenzie (Phonica Racing) all finished in the points and will expect to do so once again.
Four Dutch wild card riders will add to the depth of talent on display with Bryan Schouten (Dutch Racing Team), Ernst Dubbink (RV Racing Team), Jerry van de Bunt (Jerrys Racing Team) and Thomas van Leeuwen (Racing Team Van Leeuwen) all participating. German wild card Luca Gruenwald (Freudenberg Racing Team) will also ride, whilst Norwegian Sturla Fagerhaug continues in place of the injured Sarath Kumar on the WTR-Ten10 Racing Team.
– HRC Preview
Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso arrive for the Dutch TT at the historic Circuit van Drenthe in Assen first and third in the MotoGP World Championship, with Honda riders having won five of six races to date.
Stoner took over the MotoGP championship lead by winning his third race in a row, and fourth of the season, when he raced to victory at the rain-sodden British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The victory was the 27th of the Australian’s career. He now sits sixth all-time and within striking distance of fifth by the end of what is already an impressive season. In the first six races, the 25-year-old has four pole positions, four wins, a third, and one non-finish. It adds up to a 19-point lead heading into the seventh race of the championship, and at the mid-point of a run of six races in eight weeks.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) finished behind Stoner in Silverstone, giving the team-mates a 1-2 finish for the second time this season. (The first was in the French GP at Le Mans.) Other than an off weekend in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, Dovi hasn’t finished worse than fourth this season and he believes by applying his race strategy from Silverstone he can card another strong finish.
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will likely miss the Dutch TT. The Spaniard is recovering from surgery last week to fix a small fragment of bone in the right collarbone that had moved during his previous rehabilitation. Pedrosa has made next week’s Italian Grand Prix the target for his return.
Pedrosa started the season strongly, with the high point coming at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril where he won, after finishing third and second in the previous two races. But injuries, both old and new, have denied him a chance to be a championship contender.
If Pedrosa does withdrawal, his seat on the Repsol Honda team will be taken by San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama. HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi would replace Aoyama on the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad.
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli is looking to bounce back after falling victim to a wet track in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. “Super Sic” needed a few days to recover from the disappointment of falling after qualifying second on the grid. The Italian has been excellent in qualifying, starting in the middle of the front row in three of the past four races, with his maiden pole position in the Catalunya Grand Prix.
Hiroshi Aoyama scored one of four wins during his 2009 250cc World Championship-winning season in the Dutch TT. This will be the Japanese rider’s first visit to the circuit on the Honda RC212V. Aoyama missed last with a broken back suffered in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Aoyama is mentally preparing himself to replace Pedrosa so that he’ll be ready when practice starts on Thursday.
The 2011 race marks the tenth anniversary of Toni Elias’s win at Assen aboard a Honda in the 125cc class. The win was one of four that season in which he finished third overall. The 28-year-old Spaniard returns for his 12th visit to the circuit in northern Holland hoping to continue on the progress he made in Great Britain. Elias was eighth at Silverstone, his best finish of the season.
Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Kalex) heads to Assen as the runaway leader of the Moto2 World Championship after winning in cold and wet conditions in Silverstone, a race he called “the strongest race in my career.” The conditions could be similar in Assen, a track where his history isn’t outstanding. That isn’t lost on the 21-year-old German, who recently tested at the track in northern Holland so that he could continue his dream season.
The Silverstone win was his fourth in sixth races and he has nearly twice the points of his closest title rival. With six of 18 races run, the 21-year-old German holds 127 points to 65 for Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project, Kalex).
Though Corsi is a distant second, he is the second most consistent rider in the Moto2 field. The Italian has finished every race in the top ten with one podium. He understands that he needs to start strongly in order to maintain his championship position and take advantage if Bradl falters.
The strong effort Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) has put in, in qualifying hasn’t consistently paid off in the races. Prior to qualifying 12th and finishing seventh at Silverstone, the Japanese rider hadn’t qualified worse than seventh or finished worse than fifth. Two non-finishes, in Jerez and Catalunya, have hampered his championship run.
The Dutch TT is the only circuit to host a grand prix every year since the birth of the World Championships in 1949. Known as ‘The Cathedral of Racing,’ the Circuit van Drenthe is a track that flows well through a variety of corners of varying camber. There are two signature corners, the Strubben hairpin left that feeds riders onto the Veenslang back straight, and the right-left-right chicane onto the front straightaway. The chicane has been the sight of a number of dramatic finishes and crashes, which play out in full view of the main straight grandstands.
The track has gone through various iterations with the most recent substantive changes coming in 2006. The track was shortened from over 6000m to 4542m, an alteration that changed the track’s personality. The track underwent a minor change last year that had major effect. The Ruskenhoek kink on the back straight was re-shaped and shortened by 13 metres, with lap times dropping by about two seconds from 2009 to 2010. That single change made Assen the second fastest track of the season.
The TT is often plagued by wet weather and the long-range forecast for this weekend calls for showers at some point. Because of the numerous changes to the circuit, the layout has an irregular surface with vastly different levels of adhesion either wet or dry.
Honda has a great history in Assen, beginning in 1966 when Jim Redman gave Honda their first 500cc grand prix win at Assen riding a RC181 four-stroke. The following year Mike “The Bike” Hailwood won his first Assen race on a 500cc Honda, having won three on another brand, on what was then a 7704m layout.
Among modern riders, Randy Mamola was the first to win on a 500cc two-stroke Honda, winning in 1984 and ’85 after the circuit was shortened to 6134m. The roster of Honda’s World Champions who have won at Assen include Wayne Gardner, Alex Criville, Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi, and Nicky Hayden. Tady Okada, Sete Gibernau, and Alex Barros also rode Hondas to victory in Holland. For one stretch, from 1984 through 2009, won 60% of the races, 15 in all. The most recent came in 2006, when Hayden posted a victory on the 4555m track, shortened from 5997m the previous year, en route to his MotoGP World Championship.
Traditionally held on the last Saturday in June, the weekend programme begins a day earlier than usual, with first practice on Thursday morning.
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner says: “It was a tough race in Silverstone and to come away with three wins in a row and also the championship lead is awesome, so it’s been nice to have a break after such a good time. I’m really looking forward to going to Assen, it’s a nice track, the first section is a little slow and doesn’t do too much for me, but the last part is a lot of fun. I believe the RC212V will work well for us there as it has done at all circuits so far this season. We will work hard to get the set-up right on the bike and hope to challenge for another win, but right now we need to go ahead doing our best each race. I’m really sorry to hear Dani (Pedrosa) had to undergo another operation, he really doesn’t deserve all this bad luck and I hope he’ll be OK soon.”
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso says: “After the podium finish at Silverstone, I look forward to race in Assen. I really like the old track; now with the several modifications it has lost a bit his unique identity. We are on good form and feel that we will also be strong this weekend. In particular at Silverstone we did a very good strategy and a good race so I’m motivated to get another strong result for the championship. It’s a circuit in two sections – the first part is quite slow while the second part, the old Assen, is technically more demanding. I’m really sorry that Dani had to have another surgery. I hope that he recovers soon and he comes back completely recovered.”
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says: “It’s been some days since the surgery and I feel much better. I don’t feel the pain I had before the operation and the evolution has been very good. I’ve already begun the rehabilitation and I am very positive. Every day I notice an improvement and this is very good because I really wish to get back on the bike as soon as possible. To be honest, it will be very difficult for me to make it to Assen, but I really believe I will be OK for Mugello, so now I’m focused on working to get better every day and see how far I get. I want to return as soon as possible, but I want to do the right thing.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli says: “I spent two or three days with my head down after Silverstone before I started to get over the disappointment. That torrid day in England is now firmly behind me though and I am looking forward to Assen with the sole objective of continuing to work in exactly the same way that we have done in recent Grands Prix, but this time following it up with a result on race day. We are on the right lines and we remain confident that the results will come. I like the Assen circuit even though I have to say the old layout was more interesting. Anyway, apart from the twisty first sections it is still one of my favourite circuits, so I am sure I can be running up front again this weekend.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama says: “I will most probably be contesting the Dutch TT at Assen onboard a factory RC212V as part of the Repsol Honda Team. I would like to thank Team San Carlo Honda Gresini and HRC for offering me this great opportunity.”
LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias says: “Well… Assen has been changed a lot in the last years and I have got mixed feelings about this circuit. Last year I was on the podium and I am hoping to increase my pace aboard the RCV. As I said in Silverstone we are not so bad in the wet but we must adjust the bike in the dry. Weather conditions in Assen are always a gamble. Actually Assen is not one of my favourite tracks because I injured myself a couple of times here so I still have bad memories but this is part of our job”.
– Yamaha Preview
The historic circuit of Assen welcomes MotoGP back this week for what is a very special occasion for Yamaha. The 2011 Assen TT will witness a full livery change by Yamaha Factory Racing as part of ongoing activities to celebrate the iconic Japanese manufacturer’s 50th year of Grand Prix racing. The beautiful red and white colour scheme will be launched to the media on Wednesday close to the Assen circuit, signaling the start of the Yamaha Expo which will run the full TT week.
Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will be looking to put the previous race at Silverstone behind them and focus on delivering strong results at Assen, a track favoured by both. Lorenzo has won on the Dutch circuit in all three GP classes; team mate Spies took pole and a race win in 2009 in World Superbike and finished fourth last year in his rookie GP visit.
The Assen circuit, sometimes referred to as the ‘cathedral’ by race fans due to its status and historical significance in racing, is the only circuit to have been part of the Grand Prix World Championship calendar since its inception. The circuit, which celebrated the 80th Anniversary of TT racing last year, has undergone many changes over that time. Initially run on public roads it has evolved into one of the most physically demanding and technical tracks in Grand Prix with high speed chicanes and varied camber changes.
Jorge Lorenzo – “Assen is my favourite track where I’ve won in all categories and also last season. This year it is very special coming here because we celebrate the 50th Anniversary! Now we are in second position in the championship, we come here looking to put pressure on the leader. I need to do the same job as I’ve done before with maximum effort. The team is focused and I wish to come back to finish at least on the podium.”
Ben Spies – “I’ve really been looking forward to coming to Assen again. It’s a track I love and the Yamaha M1 seems to really work well here. It’s a fast track which I really enjoy, I have so many memories of watching the racing on TV here as a kid, it’s a privilege to race here now. I’m still pretty sore from Silverstone’s crash but I’m not going to let it stop me giving 100% as always and going for the best results possible. It’s also going to be really cool to go out on the track in the special livery in front of all the fans.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager – “We’ve been looking forward to Assen because of our special livery, I love the bike in white and red. We are currently second in the championship which is not such a bad position; we will see if we can put some heat on the feet of Casey. We made a mistake at Silverstone and now with 18 points deficit it’s a different situation for Jorge compared to most of last season and this year where he’s always been in front. When you lead you can’t be better than that so we need to be on top of everything and I believe he is able to fight with Casey for victory. We were only two tenths behind the front in qualifying at Silverstone so we have proved that our package is getting better and better and closer to the front.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “This is the first of our 50th anniversary race celebrations, I am proud to be part of this unique event and to be a part of Yamaha at this time. The team has worked really hard to prepare for this, we hope racing fans will be delighted with the special livery on not only the bikes but also our uniforms and pit garage. The Assen circuit should be good for us this weekend; our bike should be competitive thanks to the layout and characteristics of the track, it is also one of Ben’s best circuits to ride on. In dry conditions at Silverstone it was clear that the direction we are taking in development is working and we are confident here we can continue this improvement. I’m impatient for Thursday morning to get started.”
Historic Assen awaits Edwards and Crutchlow
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team resumes the busiest period of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship calendar with a visit to the world famous Assen circuit in Holland this week.
The circuit is steeped in history and is the only venue to have hosted a World Championship round in every year since its inception in 1949, with the race also unique as it is traditionally staged on a Saturday.
American Colin Edwards heads to one of his favourite tracks with confidence sky high after he overcame atrocious conditions and a painful rib injury to claim a stunning rostrum at Silverstone’s British Grand Prix earlier this month.
The 37-year-old’s achievement was made even m ore remarkable considering it was only nine days after he broke his right collarbone in a practice crash for the Catalunya round. Edwards has been able to rest and recuperate at home in Texas, gaining vital strength in his upper body as he prepares for another physically demanding weekend. He expects to be in much better physical shape than Silverstone, but is still not 100 per cent recovered because of muscle damage around his right ribs.
Cal Crutchlow has worked tirelessly to get himself fit for action this weekend, the British rider showing outstanding courage and determination to be back with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew less than two weeks after he broke his left collarbone in a heavy qualifying fall for his home race at Silverstone.
Since leaving the Royal Derby Hospital last Wednesday having undergone successful surgery to pin and plate the collarbone that was broken in five places, the 25-year-old has worked round the clock to get his shoulder healed quicker. Crutchlow will start practice on Thursday and he’s determined to race in round seven of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship.
Colin Edwards – “I am really looking forward to Assen because I love the track. It is not the old Assen of a few years back, but there are still plenty of sections of the track that are awesome on a MotoGP bike. It’s fair to say I’ve got some history at Assen. I got a podium in 2005 and 2008, but don’t remind me what happened in 2006. I couldn’t be more confident going to Assen though than I am now. The Silverstone result was fantastic for the whole Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. It gave everybody a boost and it was great coming so quickly after my collarbone injury. I’ve had a lot of time relaxing and resting up with my family at home and the shoulder has onl y got stronger. It was like brand new in Silverstone, so I’m not worried about that at all. My right side is still hurting because I separated the muscles from my ribs, so I’m expecting a bit of discomfort from that. The rib injury has improved but I still don’t think I’ll have my maximum strength. I’ll be looking for another strong result in Assen to build on the momentum gained from Silverstone.”
Cal Crutchlow – “Assen is another track that I know from my time in World Superbikes, but I will have to see how my shoulder is doing on the bike and go from there. It is Yamaha’s 50th anniversary and I will do my best to be there and support them.”
– Suzuki Preview
Rizla Suzuki is on its way to ‘The Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing’ as it heads to the Netherlands for the Dutch TT in Assen, and round seven of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship.
Álvaro Bautista is in a positive mood as he travels to the 4,542m Dutch circuit – a track that he tasted 250cc GP victory at in 2008 – following a confidence-building display last time out at Silverstone. Bautista performed well in the cold and wet conditions at the English circuit and he is convinced the Suzuki package has made a major step forward, which will enable him to push forward and get the GSV-R a lot nearer the front of the pack.
Assen is the only venue that has staged a Grand Prix every season since the start of the championship in 1949 and is unique in being the only race staged on a Saturday. The track is located in the north of The Netherlands, near the town of Groningen, and although the circuit has undergone some changes to make it safer in recent years, it is still a very technical, twisty layout with little room for error and one that riders really enjoy racing at. The Assen circuit was originally constructed in 1955 – previous to that the races were run on the open roads around the area – and it is the only road-racing circuit in the MotoGP series that was specifically designed for motorcycle racing. It is commonly known as ‘The Cathedral’ of motorcycling to fans and racers alike as it is held in such high esteem by both.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will take to track on Thursday this week for two free practice sessions, followed by another practice and qualifying on Friday. The 26-lap race gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (13.00hrs GMT) On Saturday 25th June.
Álvaro Bautista: “We will be looking to continue with the same progress we had at Silverstone when we get to Assen this week. We made big steps in England, because it was very cold all weekend and we were able to be competitive and went a long way forward from where we were last year. It was cold at Assen in 2010 and we struggled, so we are hoping that what happened last week will help us if the conditions are the same – I hope it’s a lot warmer though and that won’t be an issue! The two circuits are quite similar, they are very fast with some good corners and it will be like continuing our work from where we finished at Silverstone. I won at Assen in 2008 and although it will be tough to try and repeat that, I believe we now have the package to start to run nearer the front on a regular basis.”
– Ducati Preview
The Ducati Marlboro Team, continuing its development process with the Desmosedici, will introduce a variety of new updates at Assen. Valentino Rossi will take to the track with the next generation of the bike, called the GP11.1. The design process for this bike began after the Sepang tests, with construction beginning after the riders approved the GP12’s chassis during its first test, at Jerez.
For the GP11.1, the Corse Department prepared an 800cc engine that installs in the chassis that Ducati engineers are developing for 2012. The bike will also use a new gearbox, the “DST- Ducati Seamless Transmission”, the design process for which began in 2010.
Nicky Hayden, who has already used four engines this season, will use a GP11 equipped with the step-2 frame, whose stiffness has been further modified compared to the step-1 version that was introduced at the Estoril test. According to the engine-rotation schedule, he will ride the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.
Assen is a track that both Ducati Marlboro Team riders like very much, and one where both have achieved strong results: seven victories and three podiums across all classes for Valentino Rossi, one victory and a podium for Nicky Hayden.
VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati Marlboro Team – “Assen is one of my tracks—one of those that I like most and where I’ve had some nice races in all the classes. We’ll try to take advantage of that good feeling and of our experience at this circuit because Thursday morning we’ll debut some updates to my bike that are very promising but also very fresh. Filippo [Preziosi], the guys at Ducati and the Test Team have worked really hard, and that has enabled us to make this new step with the development of our bike. We haven’t had the chance to test the 800 since Estoril, so we’ll do it during the race weekends, being aware that despite having very limited time, we’ll have to focus on two jobs: making basic adjustments to the new technical parts, and finding a general setup for the race on Saturday. We’ll have to do a good job on the track in order to get the most out of the work done at the factory. It will be hard, and we know it might take some time before we can completely reach the potential of the whole package, but we’re happy and motivated by the work we’re doing.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Marlboro Team – “There was no GP this past weekend, but the time went by pretty quickly, as I had a test at Mugello and a couple of PR appearances. Now it’s time for Assen, which is an awesome race. I have some good memories there, including a win, and it’s a place I really like, with a lot of history and tradition. The track has changed over the years, but I like the new section. We’ve had a big gap to the front lately, but now we have another new step with the chassis. The first step helped with the feeling, and hopefully this one will also help with the lap time. It’s clear that Ducati is working hard, and that’s motivating for me, for the team, and for all of our Ducati supporters. I look forward to getting my hands on a GP11.1 as soon as possible as well.”
FILIPPO PREZIOSI, Ducati Technical Director – “We decided to make the GP11.1, which is an 800cc engine in a GP12 chassis, in order to accelerate development on next year’s bike, and also to provide our riders with a potentially better base for the current championship. Considering that Valentino still hasn’t ever ridden the GP11.1, this decision could require some races for the team to completely take advantage of its potential, but we decided to move forward with it because we believe it’s an important step for our development process. The next-generation gearbox, on the other hand, is a solution that we think will be an immediate improvement. The Ducati Corse Department will continue studying further innovations, both for this year and for 2012. At the same time, we have developed an additional step for the frame for Nicky, and he’ll receive the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.”
– Bridgestone Preview
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Round seven of the MotoGP World Championship takes the paddock to the historic Assen circuit for the Dutch TT, one of the longest-standing races on the calendar and a race with great history in motorcycle racing. The 81st TT Assen weekend takes place on Saturday 25 June, and marks the 62nd time the race had appeared on the Grand Prix calendar having been included every year since 1949.
The circuit has appeared in various guises over the years, including as the historic TT road course, and last year underwent another change in the form of the re-profiling and smoothing of the Ruskenhoek kink. Allowing riders to carry more speed through the fast right-handed kink, the change made the circuit 13 metres shorter and the laptimes two seconds faster.
The result of all these changes though is that Assen’s track surface is inconsistent and the mix of newer and older asphalt offers differing levels of grip and abrasion, where the new sections of tarmac are slippery and the older parts abrasive. This makes it hard for riders to get a consistent feeling throughout a lap, and very tricky in the wet.
Generally, Assen is not so demanding for front tyres so the soft and medium compounds can be used to generate more grip and more positive feeling for the riders on the slippery tarmac. Loads are high on the right shoulders of the rear tyres though because of the circuit’s fast and flowing nature and specifically the long and fast succession of corners from turn ten to thirteen when the right shoulders of the rear tyres have very little respite. The circuit is fast, especially with last year’s slight change, and now average race speeds are faster than Mugello and Silverstone making it the second fastest race on the calendar.
The asymmetric medium and hard compound rear slicks will again be used at Assen, meaning Bridgestone’s tyre allocation is unchanged from this race last year.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department – “The Dutch TT is one of motorcycle racing’s most historic, and although it has greatly changed over the years, it has a special place in the hearts of many, including the fans. The season is really taking shape now, and especially with this run of six races in eight weeks the momentum is really building. Casey arrives in Assen with the championship lead just ahead of Jorge who won there last year, and we also hope that the recoveries of Dani and Cal are going sufficiently well to see them return to action soon.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division – “Assen is a smooth circuit that requires asymmetric tyres because of the high loads placed on the right shoulders of the rear tyres. Following its modification in 2006 there are two distinct types of tarmac; the new part is slippery whilst the old is abrasive, making it particularly tricky in the wet. The circuit was also changed slightly for last year’s race when the Ruskenhoek corner was smoothed out to reduce the total lap length by 13 metres. The tyres have to cope with a wide range of corners from very slow to high speed and shoulder grip is crucial. The first few corners are linked as one and gradually tighten, requiring good right shoulder durability, and corners such as the 200km/h+ Ramshoek demand absolute commitment and generate relatively high tyre temperature.”