Classic Assen Awaits Before Summer Break For MotoGP!
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Classic Assen Awaits Before Summer Break For MotoGP!

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 25 June 2021

Author: Myanna Wedes

The Cathedral, also known as the TT Assen, is the final race before the summer break and the riders kick off their gloves, boots and enjoy some downtime away from the sport to reset. The weather in Assen is always up and down, with this weekend looking like a wet race after a very hot German Grand Prix which melted the teams and riders, sweating beyond belief and being pushed physically the entire time. The hardest part about taking a break of four to five weeks away from the sport is the loss of momentum or doubt that can creep into the thought patterns of a rider. There are mixed feelings for many of the riders. In terms of Fabio Quartararo, he is looking forward to the rest though will be nervous being away from his bike for that length of time and have to adjust when racing resumes after the time away. Johann Zarco, does not want to have a break and would prefer to keep progressing, though the body can always do with some time off. He is already looking forward to the two Spielberg races back-to-back to stay motivated and in check mentally. Jack Miller looks forward to the time off although he is not able to go home to Australia and must stay in Europe, the holiday break will be well earned from his perspective and not having to travel as much a good thing which is naturally physically draining. The mini holiday is guaranteed to please Marc Marquez as it will enable his body to heal further and be stronger. The downtime will allow his shoulder and arm to rest, recover, and heal rather than being smashed with lap after lap race activity. Finally, Valentino Rossi is still yet to announce his future on a MotoGP bike so his time off his more about forward planning and deciding on his time in the sport, so will he retire, or will he take a leap of faith to ride with his own team that was announced this week, with Ducati as the chosen manufacturer! (Marc Marquez)

Marc Marquez:

“We have enjoyed our moment after the Sachsenring, with the team, with my family and with those who helped me. But now we focus again and get ready for Assen, in the past we have had good results there but of course our situation is different now. The weather is looking very cold and wet, especially after what we’ve seen in Germany. So we will keep working to improve our situation and see what’s possible.”

Pol Espargaro:

“It’s great to return to Assen after one year away, it’s a historic track and it’s always great to ride these tracks. Our weekend in Germany was not perfect but we arrive with a clear mind and ready to go again. For sure it looks like the weather will complicate things a bit, but no matter what we keep working to achieve our best. The objective is to have a weekend without problems to put all the pieces together.”

In terms of the Ducati manufacturer, they have only won in Assen on one occasion in 2008 with Casey Stoner. They have taken seven podiums, three pole positions and will be aiming high after a sensational season to date with Jack Miller, Pecco Bagnaia, Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin. Miller is sure to be praying for wet conditions or something that evens the playing field to allow him to push. The fight is on to disrupt the Quartararo train both in qualifying and the race. Setting up a quality position for qualifying will be an essential ingredient for success this weekend for all Ducati riders Miller, Pecco Bagnia and Zarco whom are the hot favourites under that red label. As they continue to find form, we are still waiting for Maverick Vinales to wake up and smell the roses, to show his form and make it count on track. He has disappeared from the title battle with poor results, lack of performance, self-doubt, and arguments within his team personnel. It will be interesting to see if Vinales utilises his teammate’s data, lines, strategy and if that improves his overall feeling with the bike. If the Spanish rider can turn his fate around, the Championship is sure to turn on its head and “Top Gun” throw a spanner at his rivals!

The current season reflects hard work and the teams pushing the boundaries even with the COVID-19 pandemic still taking its hold of the globe. It will be nice to see fans attend the race weekend in Assen, although, the numbers restricted to a certain amount of 11,000 per day. It will be a long time before normal racing and procedures are back on the table for fans to enjoy and interaction with riders from all varying categories. (Jack Miller)

Jack Miller:

"After the German GP, this weekend we'll be racing at a track that, at least on paper, isn't the most favourable for the characteristics of our bike. I'm optimistic because even at Sachsenring, where we weren't one of the favourites, we managed to be competitive in practice and qualifying, even if we missed something in the race. In Holland, the weather conditions will play an important role, and it was here in the wet in 2016 that I took my first MotoGP win. It will be the last race before the summer break, so I'll do my best to get closer to the top of the standings and end this first part of the season well."

Francesco Bagnaia:

"I'm pleased to be back racing at Assen, a track where I won in both Moto3 and Moto2, and that I like so much so that I've even got it tattooed on my arm! It is a particular track, and the weather conditions here will definitely be a deciding factor this weekend. On paper, we are not favourites, but we weren't last weekend in Germany either. If I hadn't started so far back in the race at Sachsenring, I could have been fighting for the podium for sure. We will try again this weekend! We are halfway through the Championship, so it is important to get another good result before the summer break". (Johann Zarco)

Johann Zarco:

“As I'm always saying the Ducati has a huge potential and I think the bike has the potential to be on the podium everywhere now this season. Clearly I missed something in the Sachsenring but the weekend was quite interesting and also in the race the first half, I was pretty happy to see many things so I hope these things will be useful for this weekend and will make me strong to fight with Fabio, who I think will be one of the best and if I can be fast enough I think I will enjoy.”

Fabio Quartararo:

“In MotoGP you need speed and consistency, and this year we have both. Finishing third at the Sachsenring was good, considering we were struggling a bit that weekend. Being on the podium after a ‘bad weekend’ makes us feel even more positive about the future. This weekend we’re riding at TT Circuit Assen, which is one of my favourite circuits, and it suits the Yamaha well. I wish it was Friday already!”

Maverick Vinales:

“Assen is a circuit that I really like, so I’m looking forward to riding there. I really want to get back on the M1 as soon as possible, so we can start working on the bike again. After a disappointing weekend we always want to keep working and find a way to improve. We clearly have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s okay. I won the Dutch GP in 2019, before the pandemic, so at least we know that a similar set-up to the one we used then should be a good starting point.” (Valentino Rossi and Fabio Quartararo)

On the other side of the Yamaha garages, we have Valentino Rossi who has just announced the launch of his own MotoGP team for 2022 with Ducati. It has been made clear that one of the leading sponsors, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, would like to see Rossi compete for the next few years and riding for the team alongside his brother Luca Marini as a dynamic duo of Championship blood and greatness. No doubt, the training of future Saudi Champions will be a part of the goal over time and to bring about results that reflect the Doctor’s edge of guidance, sportsmanship, and mentorship. It really is an exciting announcement for the sport of two wheels and the VR46 Riders Academy which is proving to be such an important resource for quality talent whilst leading an extraordinary legacy under the Rossi name. Whilst this news was announced, it is still a challenging set of circumstances for Rossi onboard the Yamaha.

Valentino Rossi:

“We need to figure out what happened in Germany and work well to make some improvements before we are back on track this weekend. Assen is a great track for me though and I like the layout a lot, it is very flowing. It is somewhere I really enjoy and you always feel some great emotion when riding there. So we need to stay positive, concentrate on the final round before the summer break and achieve a good result in Assen.”

Alessio Salucci, VR46 Riders Academy:

"We are happy to announce that in 2022 we will race in MotoGP with a team of two riders in the colours of the VR46. A journey that began a little over eight years ago with the birth of the VR46 Riders Academy, a beautiful adventure shared with Sky, a long, demanding journey, but full of satisfactions and which makes us very proud. This milestone has a truly unique meaning, but it is not an arrival point. “Year after year, since 2013, we have grown, we have managed to write beautiful pages of our sport between Moto3 and Moto2 and we crossed our path with many young talents of Italian motorcycling that we have had the privilege of being able to support in their growth path and that we will continue to support from the classes lower up to the MotoGP. A key moment in our history that would not be it was possible without Carmelo Ezpeleta who has always believed in this project and to Ducati for the trust he has placed in us for the future.”

Unfortunately, Franco Morbidelli is sitting this race out and having surgery on his injured knee. The young rider replacing him is GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team rider Garrett Gerloff. The injury sustained is severe, to which Professor Maurilio Marcacci and his team will solve problems relating to the meniscus and the anterior cruciate of his left knee. The downtime and recovery period will be long, and a timeline has not been established yet. If anything, Morbidelli has timed the surgery well considering the summer break is around the corner. It is not an ideal situation for Morbidelli to be in, especially since he finished second in the World Championship in 2020. Right now, he is not at the level required to win or achieve a podium finish which is heartbreaking for the passionate PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.

Garrett Gerloff:

“I’m excited for the opportunity ahead, I’m not someone who runs away from a challenge, so I’m ready to get to the track. It’ll be a new circuit for me, I like trying new tracks, it looks fun, fast and flowing, and really suits my riding style. I’m looking forward to jumping on the Yamaha M1 again and twisting the throttle. We’ll see how things go, but I feel good and would like to thank Yamaha and the team for considering me. It won't be easy, but I'm going to give it my best shot!”

Overall, the dark horse in this World Championship has been Miguel Oliveira who is letting his racing do the talking! The KTM is competitive and it a nice thing to see because there were doubts at the start of the season that it was going to be a rough rollercoaster ride for the Portuguese rider and fellow teammate Brad Binder. The gold nuggets of information from Dani Pedrosa are impressive and it has been announced that he will race at one of the events this year! The wild card is there, though as to which date remains to be said. With the 2022 package being worked on, it will be Pedrosa who makes the call as to which event to enter in and put the bike to the test. With that said, we are ready for track action with mixed conditions sure to see a few ups and downs this weekend!

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