MotoGP Assen: Pre-Game Show
MotoGP Dutch TT
The 2010 FIM MotoGP World Championship gathers further momentum this week as the TIM TT Assen heralds the sixth round on the calendar. Taking a 37-point Championship lead into the Grand Prix is Jorge Lorenzo, and the Spaniard will aim to turn the screw further as he chases a fourth win of the season having finished inside the top two in every race so far.
Just six days after his win at Silverstone Lorenzo will attempt to replicate the three previous victories he has scored at the Dutch circuit (two in 250, one in 125), and last season the Fiat Yamaha rider finished second at Assen on his way to runner-up spot in the 2009 Championship.
Pushing ever harder for his first win of the campaign will be Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso however, after the Italian’s second place in the previous round lifted him to second spot in the standings – his highest position since joining the premier class. Dovizioso is also in a rich vein of form, having scored four podiums in the opening five rounds, and has a best finish of fifth at Assen from his debut season in the elite class.
Just five points behind him team-mate Dani Pedrosa will be targeting a bounce back from eighth place at Silverstone, and he has two podiums in the premier class at Assen, the most recent being second place in 2008. It was also the site of the Spaniard’s first ever World Championship win in the 125cc class in 2002.
Nicky Hayden again missed out on a podium as he took his fourth fourth place of the season, and prior to last year he had finished inside the top four at Assen for four successive years which included victory in 2006. His Ducati Marlboro team-mate Casey Stoner is also still in search of a first podium of 2010, and has been inside the top three at Assen for the last three years, delivering Ducati their first MotoGP win there in 2008. His aim will be a repeat in an attempt to improve on his current standing of eighth.
Randy de Puniet had a fine weekend at Silverstone as he took his first front row grid start in three years, and last season at Assen he was the first Honda rider across the line in seventh. The LCR Honda rider is sixth, just six points behind Hayden and is the highest placed private team rider at the moment.
Fresh off the back of his first MotoGP podium in Britain, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies continues his learning curve in the premier class which appears to be making rapid progress, whilst San Carlo Honda Gresini pair Marco Melandri – who became the youngest ever GP winner at the time when he took victory in the 125cc race in 1998 – and Marco Simoncelli are both level on 32 points in the Championship.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took his best result of last season at Assen with fourth and will want to up his current points haul, as will Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar), Aleix Espargaró, Mika Kallio (both Pramac Racing) and Rizla Suzuki pair Loris Capirossi and Álvaro Bautista.
Interwetten Honda MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama will be absent following a crash in the warm up session at Silverstone, in which the Japanese rider fractured a vertebra, and will be replaced by Kousuke Akiyoshi, Honda’s test rider, for the race. Valentino Rossi continues his recovery from a broken right leg. Italian legend Giacomo Agostini will be present as a guest of Yamaha and will ride some display laps on his 1975 YZR500 OW23 machine.
MotoGP: Top 5 Riders
In the Moto2 class Toni Elías saw his Championship lead ever so slightly narrowed to 15 points after he finished tenth at Silverstone, and at Assen the Gresini Racing Moto2 rider returns to the scene of his first GP win, which came in the 125cc class in 2001.
The fight for positions behind Elías is becoming an interesting one, and with second place at Silverstone Tom Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2) elevated himself to third in the standings. The result – his second podium of the season – was his best since the 250cc race at Assen in 2008 and at the Dutch track he will aim to further chip away at what is a seven-point gap to second placed Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP). The Japanese rider continued to pick up important Championship points with sixth place in Britain, and his only previous experience at Assen was last season when he crashed on the first lap of the quarter-litre race.
Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) also scored a second podium of the campaign at Silverstone and in doing so the Spanish rider moved into fourth place, level on 51 points with Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) after the Italian failed to finish the race. Simón and Sergio Gadea – the Tenerife 40 Pons rider is just four points further back in sixth – occupied the top two positions in last year’s 125cc contest at Assen, with Gadea winning his only race of 2009.
A first win of his career for Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) came in the UK and lifted the Frenchman to seventh, but he has yet to score a Championship point in four attempts at Assen. Victory in the Netherlands would make Cluzel the first French rider to score back-to-back wins since Arnaud Vincent in the 125cc class in 2002 – the year he won the title.
Moto2: Top 5 Riders
Pol Espargaró holds a one-point advantage over Nico Terol at the top of the 125cc World Championship and the battle for positions at the top of the standings is producing a scintillating contest at every race.
Having produced the third closest top-four finish of all time in the 125cc class in round four at Mugello (just 0.161s separated Marc Márquez, Terol, Espargaró and Bradley Smith), the fifth instalment of the season at Silverstone saw a fierce battle between Espargaró and Márquez for victory, which the Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider won.
Second place handed Tuenti Racing rider Espargaró top spot in the standings however, the first time he has led the World Championship, and the 19 year-old will be confident of improving on his best finish at Assen which was ninth last season. Bancaja Aspar rider Terol’s best ever finish at the Dutch circuit was fifth last year, and his fourth place at Silverstone in the last round was the first time he has failed to finish on the podium this season. Terol will be eager to regain the psychological advantage of an early Championship lead at Assen this Saturday.
Victory at Silverstone for Márquez gave the Red Bull Ajo Motorsport his second consecutive win having never tasted victory before Mugello, and the 17 year-old now occupies third place in the standings at 16 points off Terol. A further 21 points back in fourth is Bancaja Aspar’s Smith who achieved an emotional first podium of 2010 at his home GP last time out. The result also saw the presence of a non-Spanish rider on the rostrum for the first time this season.
The TIM TT Assen takes place from June 24th-26th, with the opening MotoGP practice session starting at 1.55pm local time on Thursday.
125CC GP: Top 5 Riders