MotoGP: Motul TT Assen Preview

The MotoGP paddock have returned to the Cathedral of Speed for the Motul TT Assen where they hope for dry conditions after a wet round that saw Jack Miller enter the history books with his first win for him and Estrela Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.

MotoGP: Motul TT Assen Preview
MotoGP: Motul TT Assen Preview

After back-to-back rounds, and a short break since the Catalunya GP, the MotoGP class, as well as the Moto2 and Moto3 class, have made their way to the TT Circuit Assen for the Motul TT Assen; also known as round eight of the season at the Cathedral of Speed.

Heavy rain saw Miller collect his maiden MotoGP victory

Last year it rained heavily and an already unusual season saw Jack Miller add his name to the list of MotoGP winners there, and the nine different ones that were to win that season when he claimed the maiden victory for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS GP team in the elite class.

Early on in the 2016 MotoGP season, the first season where French manufacturer, Michelin were supplier for the top class, taking over from Bridgestone, doubts arose and confidence dropped over their performance, as Scott Redding’s (Octo Pramac Racing) tyre delaminated two rounds in brought about a whole load of new procedures.

Then, the class also had the choice to run with Michelin Power Slick, Intermediate or Wet tyres, however this season intermediates are banished. It means that this year, should a similar event to what happened last year occur, the riders will have an easier choice on their hands.

Torrential rain in Assen saw race stopped

Torrential rain fell in Assen before the race, ending the 600cc class event two laps earlier than initially planned. However the track dried out, the pit lane was opened and riders were able to choose when they would come in and change to either intermediate or slick tyres; the timing proved vital.

Andrea Dovizioso was on pole for the Ducati Team however a penalty for his then teammate, Andrea Iannone, given because of an incident involving former Movistar Yamaha rider, and now Ducati pilot, Jorge Lorenzo, saw him start the race from the back of the grid. Iannone was fastest during the warm-up and remained a threat despite the penalty. By the end of lap two he had compensated many places, slotting into seventh.

 

Hernandez led before he crashed out

The wet round in Assen threw out a whole array of unusual results. Yonny Hernandez who was then an independent team rider with Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati Team gained and extended a lead before he crashed out on turn 10.

The rain introduced many difficulties for the riders; some are known to lack confidence and some favour tracks. Mix that with the fact that nine times world champion, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) did not have his rear red light on, meant that each and every one had their own challenges to face.  

Rain got much heavier and the session was red-flagged right after Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) took the lead from Dovizioso. After a delay in proceedings, a second 14 lap race got underway, the rain eased off and it was back to blue skies which meant the track began to dry.

Messy first lap after restart

The first lap was messy leading to a series of incidents as leader into the first corner, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) ran wide, Iannone collided with Aleix Espargaro who went into the gravel after Iannone was forced wide by Eugene Laverty. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) crashed out, and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed at turn 12.

More riders were caught out as the track conditions changed and cut several riders races short. Dovizioso and Rossi crashed out of the front, and Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith crashed further down the rankings.

 

Miller took lead from factory Honda

Miller took the lead from 2016 MotoGP champion and factory rider, Marquez. As a dry line formed, his tyre strategy paid off and he was able to go on to win. Marquez had to settle for second and a late surge from Redding saw him complete the podium as he was able to keep Pol Espargaro who was also running well, at bay.

Iannone finished fifth despite starting originally from the back of the grid, and the many crashes saw Laverty seventh and Stefan Bradl collect Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s best results so far in eighth. Maverick Vinales and Lorenzo completed the top 10.

Vinales looking to impress an further extend championship lead

So the MotoGP class return to Assen with a lot to live up to. This year, Vinales, now with Movistar Yamaha alongside Rossi is hoping to extend his championship lead. Back-to-back wins from Dovizioso in Mugello (where he became the first Italian to win in Italy on Italian machinery since 1974), and Catalunya means he has forced former leader, Rossi down to third as he is now placed second in the championship.  

LCR Honda extend contract with Crutchlow

Heading to Assen, Crutchlow announced that he and LCR Honda have extended his contract by another two years. The British rider, who has brought the independent team to the podium, including the top step, will remain in collaboration until the end of 2019.

Doubts are growing over British MotoGP rookie, Sam Lowes as concerns over his future with Aprilia Racing Team Gresini has surfaced. Lowes is content however, he feels he is making progress in the right direction and is under a lot of pressure as the bike is still very much in development, so the speculation should really be shelved to give him a chance; the same for Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS).

The 2017 round in Assen will see the return of Team Suzuki Ecstar rider, and Spanish rookie, Alex Rins who is returning from injury and relieving Sylvain Guintoli from his substitution duties.

 

Nakagami last Moto2 winner in Assen

The Moto2 round in 2016 at the Motul TT Assen saw Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) collected his first win when the race was cut short. With second place man Johann Zarco (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) now in the MotoGP after doing the double with the Moto2 championship, it is Franco Morbidelli and his Spanish teammate, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS).

Young Marquez’s win at the last round in Catalunya, his second this season and ever in the Moto2 class, means he has close the gap in the championship. Morbidelli still leads, just seven points ahead of 2016 Assen pole man, Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) who is 3 ahead of Marquez.

 

Watch out for Pasini and Oliveira

The three have to be on the lookout for Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) who collected his first win at home in Mugello and his  first back-to-back podium since 2009. Doing his country proud, the Italian’s didn’t half celebrate his extraordinary win made better by the fact he rides a modified bikes with the clutch and front brake on the left lever due to a weaker right arm due to an old motocross injury.

Pasini is fifth in the championship, behind Miguel Oliveira who is picking up brilliant results for the new Red Bull KTM Ajo team as the Portuguese rider has remained an underdog for the others to be very much aware of; he has his eye on a spot in the MotoGP class next season. They also need to look out for rookie, Francesco Bagnaia who has brought Sky Racing Team VR46 new Moto2 team to the podium twice already; the Italian has just had his contract extended into 2018.

 

Bagnaia out the way means anyone could win in the Moto3

The extremely wet round for the Moto3 in Assen in 2016 saw Bagnaia win. Bagnaia's win was significatn for many reasons; not only was it his first, but it was first for the Mahindra team since they joined the class. But with him out of the way, it is down to Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) and Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) to retain their podiums when they finished second and third.

All eyes are on championship leader, and winner of the last round (his fourth win of the season), Joan Mir (Leopard Racing). Storming to victory in Catalunya, he has extended his championship lead to 45 points over second place man Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers). Third in the championship is Aron Canet who has just extended his contract with Estrella Galicia 0,0, who he will remain with for 2018.

Epic performances in the Moto3 class

Trying to predict who will win in the Moto3 class is a complete waste of time as the races are phenomenal, and there is no telling who will win even right up to the line, an even if that person has started from way down on the grid.

No riders that are currently competing in the 250cc class have ever won the Dutch TT and so all of them will want to add their name to the history books. However, the pole position rider may want to be aware of the fact that whoever has claimed the prime spot on the grid has not gone on to win since 2012.

Change to schedule for the first time in 2017

Usually the race is ridden on the Saturday at the Cathedral of Speed in Assen but for 207 the meeting falls into line with most of the events on the calendar. One of the biggest annual sporting occasions in the Netherlands, the paddock returns to the venue that has hosted a round since 1949 without interruption.

Vital statistics of the Cathedral of Speed

The 4.5 kilometre (2.82 mile track) was created for the first Dutch TT that took place there instead of on public roads in 1955 is a narrow track ridden clockwise. Well suited to the acceleration of the Ducati, although that does not necessarily reflect in the results, there are 18 turns, six of those are left and 12 right. The track is narrow, measuring 14 m(45.93 foot wide) and the longest straight is 487 metres (1597.77 foot) long.

Surrounding the track is grand stands and grass banks for the thousands of fans that flock to the Motul TT Assen to view from. Overtaking hotspots include a series of corners in each sector. The first five corners of the lap in the first sector will provide lots of action as they tackle the twists and turns; three right and one tight left. That leads to the straight ahead of the next hotspot, turns six and seven which are long sweeping left and right turns.

In sector three, turns 13 through to 15 will see plenty of action. Fast turns again, the brief right of 13 leads into a long sweeping 14 that merges into 15 on the left. Straight after in the final sector, turns 16-18 make up a tight chicane that leads them to the start finish line.

 

Race distance varies between classes

The MotoGP class will complete 26 laps as full race distance whereas the Moto2 class will complete 24 and the Moto3 class will complete 22. Should anything occur to disturb proceedings, the Moto3 class will consider a full race after 16 laps, and the Moto3 will cover 14.

Rossi has a good history in Assen; not only has he collected the most wins with nine, (seven in the MotoGP class an one in each the 250cc and 125cc)  but he also holds the fastest ever lap record complete in 2015 with a time of 1:32.627 when he claimed pole. It was Marquez who holds the official circuit lap record set during the race however with a time of 1:33.617, almost one second slower. Several riders have been on pole in Assen, they have all shared the responsibility between them.

Tyres available for the MotoGP class…

With no hard braking zones, which means it is not as enduring on the front tyre, and despite the track being predominantly right handed, the riders will be provided with a Michelin Power Slick with a symmetric design on the front; the tyre will be available in soft medium and hard compounds.

However, the right hand turns will have to be compensated for with the rear tyre which will be asymmetric in design; it will be built up with a harder compound on the right. The tyre will be available in soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow) band for the track that is said to be medium in terms of abrasion. Should it rain like last year, Michelin Power Rain tyres will be available in soft and medium.

Zarco holds the Moto3 lap record

The Moto2 class are equal when it comes to wins and pole positions for those who have managed to achieve them. It is Zarco who has the lap record set when he claimed pole in 2015 with a time of 1:36.346. It is Rabat who holds the Circuit Record Lap however from the same year with a time of 1:37.449.

Bastianini strong in the Moto3 class

Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) has claimed one more pole position than anyone else in the Moto3 class. The Italian also holds the fastest lap record when he claimed pole in 2015 with a time of 1:41.283. Jorge Navarro, now a rookie in the Moto2 class) has the Circuit Lap Record however with a time of 1:42.135.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather forecast and schedule…

Saturday may prove to be tricky for the paddock as showers are expected. But to be fully prepared for a hot and sunny day on Sunday they should get straight to work in similar conditions on the first day which although will be overcast, will be without the wet conditions. 

Friday 23rd June (GMT)

Class Session Time
Moto3 FP1 08:00 - 08:40
MotoGP FP1 08:55 - 09:40

Moto2

FP1 09:55 - 10:40
Rookies Cup FP1 10:55 - 11:25
Moto3 FP2 12:10 - 12:50
MotoGP FP2 13:05 - 13:50
Moto2 FP2 14:05 - 14:50
Rookies Cup FP2  15:05 - 15:35
Rookies Cup Qualifying 16:50 - 17:15

 

Saturday 24th June (GMT)

Class Session Time
Moto3 FP3  08:00 - 08:40
MotoGP FP3 08:55 - 09:40
Moto2  FP3 09:55 - 0:40
Moto3 Qualifying 11:35 - 12:15
MotoGP FP4 12:30 - 13:00
MotoGP Qualifying 1 13:10 - 13:25
MotoGP Qualifying 2 13:35 - 13:50
Moto2 Qualifying 14:05 - 14:50
Rookies Cup Race 15:30

 

Sunday 25 June (GMT)

Class Session Time
Moto3 Warm-Up Practice  07:40 - 08:00
MotoGP Warm-Up Practice 08:0 - 08:30
Moto2  Warm-Up Practice 08:40 - 09:00
Moto3 Race 10:00
Moto2  Race 12:00
MotoGP Race 13:30

 

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