The press conference room in the Assen media centre was packed to the rafters on Wednesday afternoon as MotoGP’s ‘big guns’ previewed the 61st annual FIM World Championship event at the historic Dutch venue.
Fiat Yamaha’s Barcelona protagonists, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, were joined by the man who sits alongside them at the head of the standings on 106 points, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, to set the scene for the Alice TT Assen. Also answering questions were Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi and Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Aiming to create his own piece of history this weekend as he goes in search of Grand Prix victory number 100, Rossi looked ahead to the next three days of action.
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"It is a great track here, it is always difficult because some of the corners have high banks, whereas others are very flat so it is difficult understand the braking points. I made my only mistake in a race last season here (referring to an early collision with Randy de Puniet), so we have to make sure it is better this year."
Just like in the Barcelona race, Lorenzo was right alongside his teammate to hype up this Saturday’s event, and he too was full of praise for the historic circuit.
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"I always tell everyone that this is my favourite track. I liked it even more before it was modified but it continues to be great fun to ride and the atmosphere is wonderful," he said. "Also, I am really pleased that the championship is so close this year and we hope to carry on providing a good show."
Looking far less peaky than he did on the podium of the last round, Stoner was non-committal on his chances of repeating his 2008 Assen victory.
Casey Stoner Speaks…
"We had a fantastic race here last year, and our bike worked very well. We have a new bike this year and it is a different situation, so we have to wait and see what happens when we start on Thursday."
Ahead of that practice session, a selection of FIM World Championship riders took to the track with some classic machinery as part of the ‘MotorDreamEvenTT’ appetiser on Wednesday. Lorenzo was one of those trying out a vintage bike, riding a Jarno Saarinen 250cc Yamaha, whilst Monster Yamaha Tech 3′s 2006 nearly-man Colin Edwards finally got the chance to ride a race-winning machine at Assen -Jack Middelburg’s 500cc machine from 1980.
Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen rode the 1976 500cc Suzuki of his hero and mentor Barry Sheene, Hayate Racing rider Marco Melandri took control of a Lorenzo Pasolini 1968 Benelli replica and Dutch 125cc youngster Jasper Iwema was riding a 1972 Seel machine for the afternoon run-out.
Scot Racing pair Yuki Takahashi and Gabor Talmacsi, meanwhile, rode a 1976 Mike Hailwood Honda replica and a 1976 Bob McIntyre Honda, respectively.
Before the end of the day, the first confirmation of a new arrival in MotoGP for 2010 was made in the San Carlo Gresini hospitality area. Reigning 250cc World Champion Marco Simoncelli was announced as part of Fausto Gresini’s project for next season, making his debut in the premier class.