Movistar Yamaha Determined Ahead of Dutch GP
With last year's TT Assen win still fresh in their memory, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team is ready to fight at the front of the field again at this year's Dutch Grand Prix, held this weekend.
A year ago, Valentino Rossi had the crowds at the TT Circuit Assen go wild as he delivered a stunning victory. He is eager to enhance his key protagonist status again this year, and has his eyes fixed on the top step of the podium to celebrate Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.'s 63rd anniversary in style.
The Doctor holds a very impressive record on Dutch soil, having assembled eight wins in the premier class (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2017) as well as victories in the 250cc (1998) and 125cc class (1997). Based on these statistics, he feels confident he can decrease the 27-point gap from his second place in the championship standings to first.
After a challenging weekend at his home GP a fortnight ago, Maverick Viñales made a good step at the one-day Catalunya test the Monday after, working on opening laps and riding with a full tank. He arrives in Assen holding third place in the standings and is set on making up for last year's DNC.
The young Spaniard is well acquainted with the Assen rostrum from his time spent in the lower classes. He stood on the steps four times in total, having secured a 125cc win (2011), a Moto3 victory and second place (2012 and 2013), and a Moto2 second place (2014). This weekend he plans to return to the podium as a premier class rider and start bridging the 38-point margin to the leader in the rankings.
The TT Assen Circuit is often referred to as 'The Cathedral of Speed' and is loved amongst the majority of the racers, Rossi and Viñales being two of its biggest fans. The circuit was especially built for the Dutch GP in 1955 (previous events were held on public roads) and has staged a round of the Motorcycle World Championship every year since.
The current Assen track measures 4.5km and is known to be technical, with rapid changes in direction, a mixture of high-speed and low-speed corners (six left, twelve right), no elevation changes, and has more than 100,000 enthusiastic fans visiting the event every year.
Championship: 2nd - Points: 88
"We're heading to Assen, where I won last year. This gives mixed emotions. On the one hand this means it's been a long time since I and Yamaha last won a race, so we need to work hard, on the other hand I'm happy because Assen is a fantastic track. Usually we are very competitive at the TT Circuit, but we have to check what the conditions and the situation will be like, because you never know what might happen there."
Position: 3rd - Points: 77
"I'm happy because the next race is held at the amazing circuit of Assen. We're almost in the middle of the season and we go to the Netherlands in a good position in the championship classifications, so we must keep improving and stay concentrated to get the maximum amount of points. I'm happy after the Montmeló test, it was very positive for us and we had a good feeling with the bike. I think that we can be fast in the next race. I'm very motivated for round 8 and at the same time very focused. This year we are tackling the season race by race, so let's keep working and let's see what happens on Sunday."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"We're heading to Assen, which is always a pleasure for our team, so we're aiming for good results this weekend. Last year Vale took a brilliant victory, and we are sure Maverick will also be on the pace again, because he loves Assen and will be eager to make up for last year's mistake. We're approaching the midway point of the season and Vale and Mack are still second and third in the championship standings, so our motivation to keep fighting is very high. The Dutch fans are also incredibly engaged in MotoGP and are always very supportive, so we'll try to do our share to make this TT an unforgettable event for them again."
Zarco and Syahrin Primed to Arrive at the Cathedral
The most traditional track in the calendar welcomes the MotoGP circus this weekend for the 69thedition of the Dutch Grand Prix. Yet, Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco is eager to turn his fortunes during the Motul TT Assen. With 73 points the Frenchman is placed in fourth of the overall standings, following a fantastic start of the season. Lately, he was forced to focus on securing as many points as possible and therefore aims to retrieve his initial great feeling during the eighth round of the 2018 championship.
Meanwhile, Hafizh Syahrin emerged as one of the best rookies this season. The Malaysian newcomer did a perfect weekend in Catalunya last time out until an unlucky mistake stopped him from bringing home the laurels for his hard work in Montmeló. Currently sitting just two points behind Franco Morbidelli, Syahrin's aim for this weekend is obvious: fighting back to the top of the provisional Rookie of the Year standings, starting from FP1 at 9.55 local time this Friday.
Championship: 4th – Points: 73
"Assen is a nice track with a lot of history and a circuit, I won only one time in 2016. I could be fast with the Moto2 and last year with the MotoGP it was quite ok. The race has been difficult, because it was raining a little bit and I was scared to crash, so I did the wrong decision to come back to the pit lane. So, this year, I'm going to see what the weather will be like. I want to be on the top. I think it's a track, which is also good for the Yamaha, Valentino is always incredibly strong there and it means, I can also do great things with my bike. Therefore, I will try to push all the time and even in the race, if it's raining a little bit, I will keep full throttle to stay with the top guys."
Championship: 17th - Points: 17
"I will try my best for the Assen race because I want to finish the race in the points again and try to make the same like in Barcelona from FP1 to race day before I crashed. I hope I can do well there, as I know from last year, that the Yamaha bike works really good there. Furthermore, I hope the conditions will be pleasant as well. I keep working hard on myself and try to be ready with the team from FP1. I want to fight for the best rookie spot and aim to go to Q2 for the first time."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"Assen is a very special and important race. Especially, because it's the first European race in the northern part of Europe, which even though I love the south, but once we've done Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello and Barcelona, you really enjoy the Assen paddock, the temperature is a bit lower and this is better to keep the energy. Of course, it will be busy as well, but for sure less difficult to handle the whole weekend there in terms of paddock life, everything is just a bit cooler. I think this is much appreciated by entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, including the riders. Regarding the race, Assen has a beautiful layout and offers very often exciting races. Everybody knows how many incidents had happened in last chicane, which is Assen's trademark. This is an exciting venue. Referring to our riders, Johann did his very first pole position in Assen last year and the race was good until some drops came and then he decided to pit in because he thought that the big shower was coming, but it never came, which meant the end of podium charge. I believe he likes Assen and the Yamaha M1 likes Assen too. Altogether, I hope he can be a bit closer to the top 5 group and even to the rostrum. Hafizh did exceptional race in Catalunya until five laps to go, which still in my mind. I can't help thinking how great it would have been ending in P9, but this is just a part of the learning process as a rookie. He told me he didn't enjoy Assen on the Moto2 bike, but I said to him that this was the same for Johann on some tracks, but on the M1 he just loves it. Let's see the positive side and hopefully we have Hafizh back on track like he was in Catalunya. We hope for him, that he can stay inside top 10, which is his target. We are impatient to be in the Netherlands, because it's very special event, the atmosphere is always great, Assen city is full of life and clearly the Assen community lives for the Grand Prix, which is a very good feeling. After a few days of rest here in beautiful Provence, we feel ready to go, especially after the interesting test we had on Monday following the Catalan GP."