Movistar Yamaha MotoGP bring Championship Battle to TT Assen
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team arrived in Assen in high spirits after securing their fourth consecutive victory of the season in Catalunya a little more than two weeks ago. Riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are looking forward to returning to action at the 'Cathedral of Speed' this weekend as they aim to take over the lead in the championship standings.
Following a thrilling race and a productive test in Barcelona a fortnight ago, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team head North for the Motul TT Assen. Last year's race in the Netherlands saw Valentino Rossi storm to a brilliant victory, whilst Jorge Lorenzo made it a double podium for Yamaha. This year the Factory Yamaha teammates are again keen to feature at the front of the pack during an extra special eighth round of the MotoGP World Championship as it will be the first time the Dutch GP is held on a Sunday instead of the traditional Saturday race.
Lorenzo is looking to bounce back on Dutch soil following an unlucky DNF in Catalunya at the last round. The Mallorcan holds second place in the championship and hopes to step on the top step of the rostrum in Assen for the fifth time in his Grand Prix racing career. He previously secured a win in 125cc (2004), 250cc (2006 and 2007) and MotoGP class (2010) and is eager to apply some of the findings from the post-Catalunya test to his set-up for this weekend.
Teammate Rossi is also looking forward to continuing his battle for the championship. The Italian currently holds the Fastest Lap and Best Pole record thanks to a 1'32.627 lap he set in qualifying last year. He has won nine times in front of his Dutch fans (125cc x 1 in 1997, 250cc x 1 in 1998, and MotoGP x 7 in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2015) and counts Assen as one of his favourite tracks. His superb win from last year gives him an extra confidence boost for this weekend as he tried to move up from third place in the championship standings.
The TT-Assen round has featured on the Motorcycle World Championship calendar since its creation in 1949 and draws in thousands of racing fans each year. The original circuit was over 6km and a favourite among riders, but lay out modifications shortened the track to its current 4,542-meter long format. Thanks to its narrow tarmac and rapid change in direction the track is a true test for riders to show off their skills, whilst being cheered on by spectators on the completely filled grass banks and grandstands alongside the track.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"After a successful IRTA and private test and a short break, the team can't wait to visit the TT Assen Circuit, a track that suits our bike well. We have secured four victories in a row ever since we returned to racing on European soil and we aim to continue this momentum this weekend. Both Vale and Jorge like the track and they are eager to put what we have learnt during the tests into practice when we start the first session on Friday. It will be the first time we race in Assen on a Sunday and we aim to make it another memorable weekend."
Championship: 2nd, 115 points
"Barcelona was a great pity. I knew it was going to be a tough race especially after feeling that the tyres were struggling after five or six laps, but then the crash ruined everything. Now we need to forget the incident and try to fight again in Assen. Racing in Holland is always a kind of bittersweet feeling. It's a track I love but on the other hand I've experienced both good and bad results. The layout is always good for our YZR-M1s so we are willing to have another go to get a great result again. I look forward to racing there!"
Championship: 3rd, 103 points
"I used this short break to rest a bit and now I'm ready for the next race. I love Assen, it is one of my favourite tracks, but that doesn't mean anything because every race this year is very open and very uncertain. We just have to stay focused, try to work in the best way possible and see what happens. In Barcelona we had a good race and also the test went well. I really want to get back on track and prepare for the upcoming race with my team."
Tech3 duo primed for the cathedral of speed challenge
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team pairing of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith optimistically await the eighth round of the 2016 MotoGP season at the legendary Assen circuit where they aim to storm to two top tier results. This weekend's Motul TT Assen will be the first time in the race's history that it will run on Sunday as opposed to Saturday, with the venue being the only one to have hosted a round of the Motorcycle World Championship every year since 1949.
Pol Espargaro will confidently set about following up his impressive finish of 5th at the last round in Catalunya with a strong showing aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard, who recently celebrated his 25th birthday, will seek to use the knowledge gained at the confidence boosting post Catalan Grand Prix test to make another step forward and consolidate his standing of 6th in the championship.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith intends to determinedly battle his way to the top independent position in Sunday's race and bounce back after an unfortunate mechanical issue caused him to retire at the last GP. The Briton, who holds a positive record at the Dutch venue, will look to begin the weekend with instant speed and complete the event with a notable performance in front of the passionate and festive crowd.
Championship: 6th, 59 points
"As always I am looking forward to heading back to the famous Assen circuit where I will carry on the fight to be as close to the factory MotoGP riders as possible. At the last round, which was my home GP, I was very happy to get 5th which equalled my best result of the season. Then, we undertook a useful test the following day and collected some important data, which will certainly help us in the future. Therefore, I am confident that we can have a positive weekend once again, in the Netherlands. For sure the weather will be important and there might be a chance of rain, so we really need to be focused from the first session onwards in order to be prepared in case of bad weather. However, I am determined to do well and it's always a pleasure to ride at Assen."
Championship: 12th, 29 points
"The last GP ended in a disappointing way for me, yet, I know that I could have ended the Catalunya race well, so I will remain optimistic for the forthcoming Motul TT Assen. It will be the first time that we race there on a Sunday, and it goes without saying that I want to kick off the new schedule with a good performance. The circuit is definitely a unique one and it is a track where I have had success over the years, with two podium finishes in the lower classes. We still have some catching up to do on my teammate, but after the constructive test in Catalunya, I am certain we can get back to where we need to be. A lot of English fans make the journey over to the cathedral of speed so I will do my absolute best to give them a lot to cheer about."