2013 Assen MotoGP
The battle between this year’s group of MotoGP “aliens,” which are all Spaniards, got tighter following round six at Catalunya two weeks ago.
On Spanish soil, the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo would take the win, closing in on the man who has retained the points lead since his win at round three in Jerez – Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
And the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 pilot Lorenzo has a slight advantage over Pedrosa as the 2013 MotoGP Championship heads to the “Cathedral” in Assen for the Dutch TT.
The 2.822-mile is the longest-running circuit in MotoGP, the 18-corner (12 rights, six lefts) track on the GP calendar since the series’ inception in 1949. In 2013, the track will celebrate its 65th GP event this Saturday, the schedule getting away from its normal Sunday race day.
Lorenzo has four wins at Assen, including one in the premier class (2010), though Lorenzo was forced to retire at last year’s Assen TT. Why? Something eerily similar to what happened at this year’s Mugello MotoGP when GO & FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bauitsta took out Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi in a first-lap crash.
At the 2012 Dutch TT, Lorenzo was hit by a charging Alvaro Bautista. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, who started from eighth on the grid, went to the inside, and came into Turn 1 with way too much speed. Bautista ran into Lorenzo, and both riders slid off the track, ending their days.
Once up, Lorenzo showed frustration, throwing hands in the air. Many around the pits were saying the move was unprofessional, and Baustia was penalized for the wreck.
With this in mind, plus knowing he is only seven points away from Pedrosa after six of 18 rounds in the 2013 MotoGP Championship and has taking the wins at the last two rounds in Mugello and Catalunya, Lorenzo will be in attack mode.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “Well, I’m quite happy after winning at Mugello and also Montmeló, two important victories for both me and the team for the Championship. We were in a very good shape these last two races and I feel stronger than ever and really hungry to win.
“I think in the last two races we made a quite big step on the bike to get the consistency on race pace. Assen has been my favourite track ever. I love the circuit, historic, quick and very flowing, but also I love the landscape, the ambience and I have always liked the country. I am very motivated to go there and try to keep this line of winning, even more after our good test at Barcelona and Aragon, when we achieved some improvements for the future.”
As for Pedrosa, he has never won a premier-class race at Assen, but took second there last year behind then-teammate Casey Stoner (retired). But this isn’t saying Pedrosa is slow at Assen; he holds the circuit record, which he set last year – a 1:34.548. At the last two rounds, Pedrosa finished second behind Lorenzo.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “After a good race in Catalunya and an important 20 points, I still lead the Championship and I am looking forward to Assen.
“I won my first ever race there and have very special memories. The weather can be temperamental so I hope we get some dry track time on Friday to find a good setting! It is a good track but it’s important to have a good feeling with the tyres because there are several fast corners. I hope we can keep the momentum going and do a good race.”
Pedrosa’s teammate Marquez is currently third in the championship battle, 30 points behind Lorenzo. The rookie has been victorious in the past three years at Assen, taking a win in the former 125cc class, and the last two Moto2 rounds.
Marquez finished on the podium at every round except for Mugello, where he suffered a DNF due to a crash that occurred while battling for second with Pedrosa. At Catalunya, he finished third.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “I had a difficult weekend in Catalunya but in the race, riding behind Dani, I was able to learn many things. The Aragon test was useful and we were able to solve some problems we’ve experienced in the last few races and also get to know the Honda RC213V a lot better!
“I know the weather in Assen can be unpredictable so it will be important to make the most of the dry track time we have. I like the circuit and I am feeling really good at the moment so it will be interesting to get there on the MotoGP machine!”
Fourth in the championship standings is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, the Brit trailing Marquez by 22 points. He and Lorenzo’s teammate Rossi both worked on improving the front-end feel of their perspective YZR-M1 prototypes under a full fuel tank during the Cataunya test last Monday, and will be looking for further podium results.
Out of the current MotoGP grid, Rossi, who is fifth in the championship points, has the best at Assen – seven wins, including five in the premier class.
Troubles continue for the Ducati Team, as the factory riders of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso did not get the desired affects they hoped for during Catalunya testing out of the new GP13 “lab” bikes. Due to this, the team will likely contest at Assen on its current GP bikes.
As for the satellite Honda boys, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl will be buoyed by his two recent good results, while GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Bautista will be aiming to make up for two disastrous last races, during which he has both times crashed out on the first lap. And as stated earlier, this is exactly what happened during last year’s Assen TT with him and nine-time World Champion Rossi.
Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone will hope to bounce back from a DNF at Catalunya. As for his teammate Ben Spies, the American will once again be replaced by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro. The Texan is dealing with ongoing shoulder issues.
Tech 3’s Bradley Smith heads into the race after scoring his best result in the premier-class to date, and having been operated on his badly damaged little finger. Challenging him, as well as other prototype riders no doubt, will be Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who at the moment looks unstoppable in his bid to be CRT champion, whilst teammate Randy de Puniet, fresh from his Suzuki test, will aim to get one over on the Spaniard, MotoGP reports.
Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama will unfortunately miss the race due to loosing a fingertip in an accident in Catalunya, and will be replaced by test rider Ivan Silva. Joining him on the grid are teammate Hector Barbera, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti, PBM duo Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek and Danilo Petrucci, Gresini’s Bryan Staring, as well as Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, MotoGP reports.
The action gets underway Thursday with the first three free practices, ahead of Friday’s qualifying and Saturday’s race.
2013 Assen MotoGP on TV
SPEED TV will broadcast Assen MotoGP at 8:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, June 29, with a special half-hour “MotoGP Rewind” show at 8 a.m.
2013 MotoGP Point Standings (after six of 18 rounds):
|16||Randy DE PUNIET||ART||FRA||11|
|17||Colin EDWARDS||FTR Kawasaki||USA||10|
|20||Claudio CORTI||FTR Kawasaki||ITA||4|
|22||Bryan STARING||FTR Honda||AUS||2|
|25||Javier DEL AMOR||FTR||SPA||1|