Rossi, "Sweet Revenge" at Assen TT circuit


Assen is the only MotoGP venue that has featured on the World Championship calendar every year since the series began in 1949. The event’s classic status is highlighted by its unique TT title. While all other MotoGP events are Grand’s Prix, Assen uses the TT tag, for Tourist Trophy, a traditional name given to motor sport events in the early twentieth century. Last year Assen underwent enormous changes, the circuit shortened from more than 6km to its current 4.555km.

Assen is MotoGP's oldest racetrack, in fact it is the only venue surviving from the motorcycle world championship's inaugural 1949 season. Last year Assen underwent huge change, with much of the northern section lost to make way for a new entertainment and leisure facility, which called “TT World'.

But the remainder of the circuit remains the same as before, which means it still offers a special challenge to MotoGP riders. Unlike most racetracks, which feature wide straights and mostly slow to medium-fast corners, Assen is a narrow, meandering venue, dominated by high-speed corners and rapid direction changes. Its surface is also special, because it is crowned like a public road for improved drainage, whereas other racetracks are flat. This greatly complicates riding, since riders must cope with several changes of camber as they enter and exit most of Assen's corners.

“The new Assen is very different from the old track, it’s not like the circuit we used to know,” says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin’s director of motorcycle racing. “The new layout puts a bit less stress into the tyres. The old Assen was very, very fast, with a lot of banked corners, so the G-forces and loads were pretty big, which heated up the compound, so you needed harder tires for the higher temperatures.

“The new layout is still fast but the rear tires we use now are in the medium-hard range, because you still need good stability for the fast corners but also good traction for the slower turns. I’d say that the tires we use here are more or less similar to the slicks we use at Donington, but with the compounds on either side of the tyre adapted to suit the different surface. Assen is also very asymmetric, rather like Donington and Barcelona, the layout is much more aggressive on the right side of the tyres, so you need good traction and stability for the long corners, like Ossebroeken, and also good warm-up, especially on the left side, for Strubben and the other left-handers.


After watching his World Championship points lead dwindle to nine after Rossi's victory at Mugello, Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner has ripped off victories at Catalunya and Donington to reestablish himself as the man to beat in 2007. Stoner has won five of eight MotoGP races this season and hasn't finished any lower than fifth place. His lead over five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi sits at 26 points. But Rossi is no stranger to the podium at Assen. The Doctor has won three of the last five MotoGP races there and has five victories on his resume at the Circuit van Drenthe.

Valentino Rossi

"A legendary place" Valentino Rossi could not be happier to have only four days' rest between last Sunday's race at Donington Park and Thursday morning's free practice at Assen. After struggling to fourth place with wet tyres on a drying track, the 28-year-old spent several hours in deep discussions with engineers from Yamaha and Michelin and revealed they now have a clear idea of how to improve performance and results this weekend. "I wasn't happy after the race on Sunday but we had a long meeting afterwards and we know what our problems are - now we need to fix them," said Rossi. "I'm happy to get the chance to ride again so soon and forget about the race at Donington because I was so disappointed to finish fourth at a circuit I love so much and have always done well at in the past. "Assen is another of my favourite tracks and after riding injured there last year I want to get back to winning ways. It is a shame they had to change the circuit layout last year because they have removed the most exciting part of the track, which I still cannot understand. Anyway, it is like this and Assen is still a legendary place, with a great atmosphere and great fans. Hopefully we can make a good show for them and be competitive like we know we can be once again."

Casey Stoner,

"At Donington we again proved that the Ducati has got more than just power. The bike and tyres are working well for me and we are competitive at pretty much every circuit. I'm really enjoying the races and I'm going to keep working at it like that because if you look start looking at the championship maybe you'll get too involved in it. I'm sure there's going to be some great races at Assen this year, but the new circuit is disappointing because the old layout was unbelievable, really good fun to ride. They even ruined what was probably my favourite corner in the world [De Bult], it was a great banked left-hander and now they've flattened it out and destroyed it. Anyway, we were quite competitive there last year. I think I came from 14th or 15th at the first corner to fight for the top three and I got fourth, so it was a really good race for us. I think this year we can go there with slightly higher expectations. The new Assen is really confusing for set-up, it's got flat corners, banked corners, long corners and tight little dinky corners, so it's really hard to find out what you need though you can pretty much go with any bike and it'll work. You have to find the right tyres that will last the race with the right amount of grip. "Valentino has always done this in the past, especially in the past couple of years," he said. "I think on the first day, he's building, building and then becoming faster. Hopefully we can stay one step ahead. We'll see if Valentino improves again tomorrow, and I'm sure he will."Rossi was reasonably satisfied with his practice performance, but hoped that the weather remained dry for Friday so he could make more improvements.


Lap record: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), 1m 37.106s, 168.867km/h-104.929mph
2006 pole position: John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R), 1m 36.411s

Recent winners of the Dutch GP
2006 Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), 42m 27.404s (new track)
2005 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 38m 41.808s (revised track)
2004 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 38m 11.831s
2003 Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin), 42m 39.006s (wet race)
2002 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), 38m 49.425s (new race distance, 19 laps)
2001 Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 30m 56.346s (rain stopped race after 15 laps)
2000 Alex Barros (Emerson Honda Pons NSR500-Michelin), 42m 46.142s (two-part wet/dry race)
1999 Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), 41m 12.732s
1998 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), 41m 17.788s
1997 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), 43m 37.954s
1996 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), 41m 29.912s

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