Following a productive test in Barcelona a fortnight ago, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team are in good shape to start the Motul TT Assen round. After the disappointing double NC in Montmeló, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales are keen to retaliate.
A multiple-rider incident ended Rossi‘s challenge for the win in Catalunya in only the second lap, leaving the nine-time World Champion determined to make amends. He plans a strong comeback at the Dutch track, which he has always been fond of, to move up from fifth place in the championship standings.
The Italian holds a very impressive record at what is often referred to as “The Cathedral” of motorcycling. He claimed eight wins there in the premier class (in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2017), as well as one second place (2001) and one third place (2003). He also scored well in the lower classes, collecting victories in the 250cc (1998) and 125cc class (1997), and a 250cc second place (1999).
It was an unfortunate end to his home race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for Viñales, because he got caught up in the same accident as his team-mate. However, he set the record straight the following day at the Catalan Test, posting the fastest time. This weekend it‘s the Spaniard‘s mission to keep the positive vibes going, take the podium he was gunning for at the previous round, and improve his current 11th place championship ranking.
The number-12 rider has enjoyed strong results at the TT circuit in his past eight years of Grand Prix racing. He has won twice at this circuit and enjoyed a four-podium streak on Dutch soil, securing a 125cc win in 2011, a Moto3 win and second place in 2012 and 2013, and a Moto2 second place in 2014. His best score in the MotoGP class was the third place he secured in last year‘s close battle.
The TT Circuit Assen was especially built for the Dutch GP in 1955. However, Assen has been part of the Motorcycle World Championship calendar every year since 1949, as it was originally held on public roads. The current Assen track measures 4.5km and remains a favourite amongst riders thanks to its rapid changes in directions, coupled with a nice mixture of high-speed and low-speed corners (six left and twelve right). Especially the Geert Timmer chicane, right before the start-finish straight, makes for great entertainment and superb racing manoeuvres, right in front of the grandstand, when it‘s all to play for on the final laps.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“After the unlucky race in Barcelona we are ready for the two consecutive GPs of Assen and Sachsenring. In Montmeló we did a good job in the garage, we worked well, and we were very fast. I felt good during the two laps in the race, so in the Netherlands this week we will work hard to get ready for the fight at the front again. The Catalunya test was positive, and I think the conclusions can help us have a good race weekend here. We will do our best.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“After the test in Montmeló we arrive in Assen with high motivation. The test was very positive for us and confirmed the good feeling that I had at the last GP. I think we have achieved the best set-up of the season, as was also demonstrated in the Catalunya GP before the accident. I really want to get back on the M1 to confirm that the bike is working well and that we can be competitive. The championship is unfortunately already slipping away and it‘s practically impossible to win it, so we are going to concentrate on finishing the season by getting as many podiums as possible, with an eye on the future and the next season.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“After an important and successful test in Catalunya, we come to Assen with some optimism and also quite a bit of fire in our bellies. The way things ended at the previous round was a real shame and had serious consequences for our outlook on the championship. However, we are determined to make a strong comeback here this weekend and we‘re using the unfortunate incident in Catalunya to fuel our motivation even more. We want to be on the podium, and to do so we need to be at the front at every session, so that will be our focus. Vale and Mack both like riding in Assen, so we’re feeling confident that we can do well this weekend.”