The MotoGP ‘Cathedral’ of Assen in the Netherlands awaits Rizla Suzuki this coming Saturday, as the MotoGP field descends upon the famous circuit for the Dutch TT.
Chris Vermeulen heads to the land of his ancestors determined to return a good result at the 4,555m Assen circuit. He has had some promising performances at the Dutch track – including pole position in 2007 – but has yet to break into the top-six in a MotoGP race. Vermeulen had a successful post-Catalunya test and will be using many of the improvements he took from there as he prepares his assault for glory.
Loris Capirossi will be planning to build upon the form that has seen him take successive fifth places at the last two events. Capirossi is eager to get back on track and carry on from where he left off at Catalunya, believing that a lot of the data collected at the Spanish track will stand him in good stead at Assen. Capirossi will also be determined to extinguish the memory of the crash he suffered at last year’s Dutch TT that kept him out of the race and forced him to miss the next MotoGP event.
Assen is one of the most famous circuits in Grand Prix racing, and although the venue has altered considerably from the original road track, it is the only location on the current calendar that has staged Grand Prix races since the inception of the championship in 1949. Although numerous changes were made to the present circuit layout in 2007 for safety reasons, it still retains its magic and most riders look forward to racing there.
Rizla Suzuki takes to the track for the first free practice session on Thursday afternoon, followed by the second – and final – free session on Friday morning. Vermeulen and Capirossi will be out in the Friday afternoon qualifying session to challenge for the best grid positions for Saturday’s race. The 26-lap Assen Grand Prix is the only venue on the MotoGP calendar that holds the race on a Saturday and the main event gets underway at 1400hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“I really look forward to going to Assen. Holland is where my family came from so there are always people around that remember my Grandfather and tell me how they are related to me – so I feel like a bit of me is coming home! We had a good test after the Catalunya race and if we can translate that into the forthcoming weekend then I am sure we can be competitive. I enjoy riding at Assen and I have won there in World Superbikes, but I have never quite got the results I think I’ve deserved – or certainly wanted – in MotoGP. I hope this will be the weekend when that all changes!”
“I am still very happy from my performance in Catalunya, but this is a whole new race and we have to begin again. We used the new engine specification in Spain and then did a lot of testing with new parts on the Monday so we have a lot of data to use for this weekend. We hope we’ll use the new spec engine again at Assen but it is still being developed and Suzuki needs to check everything, so we will just have to wait and see. I really want to carry on with the good progress we are making, especially at Assen because I didn’t get the chance to race there last year. I also want to do well for Rizla – they deserve a good result at what is really their ‘home’ racetrack.”