2012 Assen MotoGP | Preview

2012 Dutch Grand Prix

The first of three consecutive European rounds gets underway this weekend with the Iveco TT Assen MotoGP, held on the traditional Saturday instead of Sunday in the Netherlands.

When riders head to Assen, round seven of 18 in the 2012 MotoGP Championship, it’ll be the 82st running of the race at the 2.8-mile circuit containing 18 corners.

Heading into Assen, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo holds a 25-point lead over Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. Lorenzo (140 points), who took his fourth win of 2012 at the last round in Silverstone, is now tied with Stoner for 50-career GP wins.

At last year’s Assen MotoGP, Lorenzo was taken out by the late Marco Simoncelli, but was able to remount the YZR-M1 and finish in sixth. As for Stoner, he finished last year’s race in second, and is hoping the team can dial in his RC213V, which had chatter issues all season.

In third heading into this weekend is Stoner’s teammate Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard, who trails Stoner by 14 points, missed last year’s round due to injury, but will be looking for another podium finish to place himself in title contention.

In fourth with 66 points is the man who impressed at his home round in Silverstone – Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutclow. The Brit suffered a fractured ankle during practice for Silverstone, but fought from the back of the grid to finish sixth. But his biggest challenger this year, teammate Andrea Dovizioso, sits in fifth with 60 points.

Tied in seventh and eighth with 58 points each are Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista. As for Rossi, he admittedly struggles at Assen, but is looking for another podium as he did in Le Mans with second. As for Bautista, the RC213V rider claimed his first-ever pole in the premier class at Silverstone, finishing the race there in fourth.

Another satellite Honda follows Bautista, the LCR Honda piloted by Stefan Bradl (51 points), with Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden in ninth with 49 points. Hayden has held pace in the beginning of races, but has lacked grip towards the end. And as Bautista, Bradl also suffered a crash at Silverstone, injuring his finger. Rounding out the top 10 in points is Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera.

The man who claimed his maiden MotoGP victory at Assen last season, Yamaha Factory’s Ben Spies, is 11th due to struggling all season. He will be looking to redeem some points at Assen, the circuit he took the win by over seven seconds ahead of Stoner last season.

MotoGP says 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.

2012 Assen MotoGP on TV:

SPEED TV will broadcast Assen MotoGP at 8 a.m. Saturday.

2012 MotoGP Championship Point Standings (after six of 18 rounds):

1.Jorge LORENZOYamahaSPA140
2.Casey STONERHondaAUS115
3.Dani PEDROSAHondaSPA101
5.Andrea DOVIZIOSOYamahaITA60
6.Valentino ROSSIDucatiITA58
7.Alvaro BAUTISTAHondaSPA58
8.Stefan BRADLHondaGER51
9.Nicky HAYDENDucatiUSA49
10.Hector BARBERADucatiSPA37
11.Ben SPIESYamahaUSA35
17.Karel ABRAHAMDucatiCZE4
18.Colin EDWARDSSuterUSA4
19.Danilo PETRUCCIIodaITA4

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).