Iveco TT, Assen: Preview – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
The MotoGP™ World Championship kicks off its European busy-season at the Iveco TT Assen race this Saturday, as the grid prepares for three weekends of action-packed racing in a row. Riders across all classes will look to collect as many points as possible in the coming weeks, to put themselves in the strongest possible position for the second half of the season. Assen, which is a circuit that is generally very popular among riders, is the only venue that has hosted a Grand Prix event every year since the motorcycle World Championship Grand Prix series started back in 1949.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will have mixed memories from the Assen circuit, as last year he was taken out by the late Marco Simoncelli on board his San Carlo Honda Gresini bike. Lorenzo did however manage to remount, and charge his way up into sixth. This year, the Spaniard, who holds a 25-point lead in the championship, will be looking for a less eventful race to cement his place at the top of the standings. His win in Silverstone last time out put him equal with Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner on 50 wins a piece in their Grand Prix careers.
Stoner, who struggled with tyre issues in Silverstone, will be hoping that his team can help in dial in the chatter that has plagued him all season, to claw back some points on his rival. His teammate Dani Pedrosa, now only 14 points behind the Australian, missed last year’s round due to injury, but looked strong in Silverstone, and will no doubt be looking to put himself in contention for a title shot.
Arguably the greatest talking point at present is Cal Crutchlow’s phenomenal effort at his home round, where he fought from the back of the grid with a fractured ankle to take sixth. Whilst still suffering from the injury, the Brit has shown it hasn’t slowed him down, and he will be looking to extend his lead in the tight battle for fourth place. He will be challenged by teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who will look to make amends for his crash at the previous race.
Ducati Team pair Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will both aim to bounce back after a less than ideal race in the UK. Whilst Hayden showed outright pace, he will hope that his tyres can last the distance at Assen, while Rossi admitted that he struggled with the circuit. He has however confessed to being a big fan of the Dutch track and is hoping to regain some of the form that showed promise for the Italian outfit in Catalunya.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista will aim to continue his good run this season, which saw him take pole position at the last race and finish an equal premier-class best in fourth. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who suffered a finger injury at the last race will be taking to the Assen circuit in a little less discomfort this time and will look to take another forward step in his Rookie season.
Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies, who currently lies 11th in the championship standings, had his best race weekend all season on the UK, and will undoubtedly be trying to rekindle some of the magic he found at Assen last year, where he took his first MotoGP victory. Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá heads to the race after suffering tyre issues at Silverstone, whilst Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham should be declared race-fit after missing the UK round with multiple breaks in his fingers.
The CRT line up is still headed by Power Electronics Pair Aleix Espargaró and Randy de Puniet, with Bautista’s teammate Michele Pirro, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini in tow. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards will be hoping to find some of his early season pace, while Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, and Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernández and Iván Silva will be looking to challenge the top CRTs.
As the Moto2™ contingent descends on the Iveco TT Assen for this weekend’s Saturday race, it is Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez who leads the championship standings ahead of Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró and Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi.
Márquez has fond memories of the Dutch circuit, as he took only his second ever win in the Moto2™ championship at the track, setting off his charge to second in the championship last year. Espargaró and Lüthi will he hoping for a reversal in fortunes, as the Spaniard crashed out of last year’s race, whilst the Swiss rider finished in eighth. Espargaró will be the man to watch after his dominant display at Silverstone last time out.
Having closed the deficit to the top somewhat with two spirited rides in the last few rounds, Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone will be hoping to mix it up at the front once more, like he did in 2010 where he won the race. He will undoubtedly be pursued by Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding, who arrives at Assen fresh from his podium at his home round at Silverstone.
His teammate Mika Kallio will be looking to get the better of the Brit this time out, but will face a stiff challenge from Italtrans Racing Team’s Claudio Corti, and Tech 3 Racing Team’s Bradley Smith, who showed much promise on his Mistral 610 in Silverstone.
After a string of difficult results, Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi is showing promise on board his FTR machine, and will no doubt be hoping to get his first podium of the season, while Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat will look to find some of the form his charging teammate is currently displaying, on the eve of his 100th Grand Prix start.
Moto3™ prepares once again to do battle at the Iveco TT Assen this Saturday with Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese neck and neck at the top of the championship.
Both riders provided a thrilling battle last time out at Silverstone to narrow the gap at the top to just two points. And it is Viñales who will head into the Assen round as favourite, not only because of his win in the UK, but also because he took his second-ever world championship victory at the Dutch track last year.
One rider looking to spoil the party will be RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom, who is currently third in the championship after a stunning ride at Silverstone, where he split the front-runners with a brave move on Cortese in the final turns. Salom will also hold the track in high regard, as it is the place of his first ever world championship podium last year.
Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, who has reappeared on the radar again after a short slump will once again be one to watch, as he looks to continue his charge as top rookie. Estrella Galicia’s Alex Rins, who is also gunning for rookie top honours, suffered a fractured 2nd metacarpus in left hand and a fractured 2nd finger in his right hand in a crash at Silverstone, yet will be racing at Assen.
Equal on points with the Spaniard is AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who is still searching for his first ever podium, while behind him San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolò Antonelli will aim to get his season going with a finish closer to the top. Bankia Aspar Team’s Alberto Moncayo, who recorded his sole podium at Le Mans this season, will undoubtedly be looking to replicate some of that form at the Dutch track.