2015 Assen MotoGP Preview
Only one venue has hosted a Grand Prix motorcycle race every year since the World Championship began in 1949 – the TT Circuit Assen. This iconic track, known as the “Cathedral of Speed” due to its flowing layout that contains 18 turns in 2.82 miles, returns in 2015 to host round nine of the MotoGP Championship – the Dutch GP.
The largest battle brewing ahead of Assen MotoGP is between Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
The nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi has finished on the podium at every round so far, including wins at Qatar and Argentina. After seven of 18 rounds, Rossi has 138 points, one ahead of Lorenzo. The rider in third – Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone – is a further 43 points behind Lorenzo. This means either Rossi or Lorenzo will have the points lead after Assen MotoGP. But who will it be?
Rossi has the most victories at Assen; he has won there eight times across all classes – his last arriving in 2013 – and will be experimenting with a new chassis this weekend during practice. Regardless, he knows he will have to give everything he got at Assen MotoGP to beat Lorenzo, who won the past four rounds.
“Yeah, Jorge is better than me in qualifying; he’s always a little bit faster,” Rossi said during the pre-race press conference for Assen MotoGP It’s difficult because there are a lot of bikes that are very fast and Suzuki and Ducati have the extra soft tire to help. The Hondas are also very fast, but Jorge has the same tire and bike as me, so we need to improve. Starting from the third row is tough.
“In Barcelona I had a good pace and we didn’t lose much time to get to second, but already Jorge was far. Every weekend and track has a different story, so we have to understand the potential of the bike and the tires and make the maximum from Friday.”
As for Lorenzo, he has lead a record-breaking 103-consecutive laps. Leading up to Assen MotoGP, he says he is at a high point of his racing career: “I have had some very good periods in my career, but probably we didn’t have this bike. Especially in the race our bike is very constant and we can keep a high pace, this is why we’ve dominated on Sunday until now. For now, I’m in good shape and for the first time I beat my trainer on the mountain bike, so I’m really proud of that! But we still have to work hard and find a good set up.”
Third in the points is Iannone, who arrives in Assen MotoGP after finishing in the top six at every round so far this season. Two weeks ago at Catalunya-Barcelona Circuit, he finished fourth behind Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in third, Rossi in second and Lorenzo.
The Italian feels the GP15 will be optimal for Assen’s fast layout: “It’s really important for me in this moment, a positive one, to keep working. The GP14 and GP13 were very difficult in this track and I hope the GP15 improves because the agility of this bike is much better. I hope for the podium. I want to fight for the podium in every race, but the victory is better!” said the Italian, who was a Moto2 winner in Assen back in 2010.
Due to two DNFs, Dovizioso fell back to fourth in the standings, 11 points behind teammate Iannone. But even further back in fifth with only 69 points is the reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez. The 22-year-old Spaniard won Assen MotoGP last season. Marquez looks to refuel his performances that earned him two-consecutive MotoGP titles by utilizing his RC213V’s 2013 chassis at Assen MotoGP.
Speaking ahead of the race, Marquez says “Of course after the last two races we need a good result. Assen is a track I like, last year was good but it was also a mixed weather race. Two years ago Vale and Jorge were very strong. We’ll have to see how this weekend goes. We have a good confidence, unfortunately the Barcelona test was raining so we couldn’t try everything but we’ll try to do our best. I used on Monday after the race the 2014 frame, it was good and I will use it here.”
As for Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa, his podium at Catalunya provides him with confidence that his arm-pump issues may be cleared. He sits 10th overall in the point standings with 39, behind Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro (ninth, 45 points); Team ECSTAR Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales (eight, 46 points); CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (seventh, 47 points); and Pol’s teammate, the leading satellite pilot Bradley Smith (sixth, 68 points).
As for the sole American in all of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, Aspar Honda’s Nicky Hadyen is 21st in the standings with eight points.
Practice begins Thursday, followed by additional practice and qualifying on Friday, and finally Saturday’s 26-lap Assen MotoGP – the only race of 2015 to be held on Saturday.