2016 Assen MotoGP Press Conference Recap
With only 22 points separating the top-three MotoGP pilots after seven rounds - Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez (125 points); Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo (115); and Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi (103) - these former champions highlighted the Thursday press conference at Assen in the Netherlands.
Joining these three “aliens” were LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow - the Brit’s first pre-race press conference appearance of the year - and future Team Suzuki Ecstar pilot, Moto2 Champion Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40).
The two-time MotoGP Champion Marquez was the first to speak; he has one two rounds this season (Argentina, Texas), and due to his second-place finish two weeks ago at Catalunya, the 23-year-old Spaniard was able to take the points lead. Marquez now leads the reigning MotoGP Champ Lorenzo by 10 points heading into Assen MotoGP.
“My biggest worry before the season was these first races especially in Mugello and Montmelo. We finished second there both times, happy with these results” says Marquez, who earned three podiums at Assen since joining the premier class, including the 2014 win.
“We had some new (Honda RC213V) parts but honestly I expected more from the test (last week). We worked hard and took some positive points. I will start with the same bike I raced Sunday in Montmelo.”
Lorenzo hasn’t had much luck at Assen, though he did finish third last season behind Marquez and winner Rossi. Last year's third was his first podium at the Dutch circuit since 2010.
“I had a mix of bad luck and a bad feeling in special conditions here. Last year we were third and I think it can be positive here in the future. I’m very optimistic here.
“With the graining and the track it was worse and worse for us. If it wasn’t enough then I had the incident with Iannone, it could only be worse with an injury,” Lorenzo says.
As for Rossi, he’s coming off his second win of the 2016 season after a dominating performance at Catalunya MotoGP two weeks ago. He has six wins in the premier class at Assen.
“I think that last year was one of the best weekends for me. At the end I was able to win after a hard battle with Marc but also during the weekend I was strong and started from pole," Rossi says.
“This year is different and we arrive with different tires to understand so we have to be strong from the start to understand our potential. Usually the Michelin tires here in Assen were strong and fast in the past.”
Crutchlow’s start to 2017 MotoGP was much different then Marquez, Lorenzo or Rossi; he suffered three DNFs, three finishes outside the top 10, and a best of sixth at Catalunya. But his personal life is going well.
“The start of the season hasn’t been to plan. We had a positive test on Monday and now we’re in Assen at a circuit I’ve had strong results at in the past. I’m having a baby, well Lucy is having a baby in a month, " Crutchlow says.
He also announced his plans for 2017 MotoGP: “Obviously I will be with LCR next year too.”
Next up to talk was Rins, who will join Andrea Iannone on the Ecstar Suzuki team for 2017: “Finally I can say next year I will ride with Team Suzuki Ecstar. I’m really happy to announce this because during my whole career we’re working to get to MotoGP and I can finally say I’ll be against these guys. I spoke to Maverick [Viñales] and asked his opinion and he said it’s a great team.”
MotoGP reports that Marquez and Rossi’s last lap coming together at the final chicane in 2015 stole headlines. For safety reasons the final chicane has been altered, grass removed and extra tarmac added. Rossi doesn’t think the changes will detract from any last lap battles: “That chicane was a great place in the past, not just me and Marc but also Schwantz and Rainey, Capirossi one time beat me in the 250s. If there’s another tight last lap it’ll be interesting.”
Ahead of the Motul TT Assen, Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna, Herve Poncharal, the president of IRTA and Mike Trimby, the CEO of IRTA, all gathered together to discuss the renewal of IRTA and Dorna’s collaboration.
The renewal sees the relationship extended for a further five years, in line with all the previous agreements. This ensures Dorna’s increased financial support for all the teams to continue bringing increased stability to the championship, MotoGP reports.