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MotoGP riders look to the heavens at Assen

MotoGP riders look to the heavens at Assen

MotoGP riders look to the heavens at Assen

The MotoGP World Championship paddock assembled under heavy black rain clouds at the Assen circuit this afternoon, with intermittent storms promising a tempestuous weekend at the legendary home of the Gauloises TT Assen.

The notoriously unpredictable nature of the Dutch weather left many of the riders looking to the heavens, some praying for blue skies and sunshine and others merely hoping that whatever fate brings plays in their favour.

Sete Gibernau, winner of last year's rain-hit race at this circuit and the current MotoGP series leader after five rounds of sixteen, has his objectives clear whatever the weather. "My aim is to go out there and work on the settings of the bike so that we are ready for anything," commented Gibernau, who has won in the wet at Jerez and in the dry at Le Mans already this season but was beaten by Valentino Rossi in mixed conditions at Mugello.

"It's an important time of the season, with four races in five weeks, and we just have to collect as many points as possible and keep working hard," added the Spaniard, who led a group of other riders including Ruben Xaus and Shane Byrne on a trip to a local windmill near the Assen circuit this afternoon.

Rossi, who trails Gibernau by five points in the championship, approaches the weekend with a similar philosophy although his impartiality on the conditions extends only as far as Friday afternoon. "I don't mind if it rains during qualifying because we need wet time with this bike to understand the limits more," said the Italian, who has taken three wins from five in his first season with Yamaha.

"But I want a dry race on Saturday. Today I have been to the Yamaha headquarters in Amsterdam and you can see how hard everybody is working. The bike is improving a lot and we hope to be fighting for victory again." Troy Bayliss admitted his relief at arriving in Holland "in one piece" after a nasty crash at Catalunya two weeks ago left him with muscle contusions in his back and neck as well as abrasions to his face. "It's going to be important to stay in good physical shape over the next few weeks because there are a lot of points to be had," commented the Australian, who has taken victories at this circuit in the WSB series.

"I tested a new engine at Catalunya the day after the race and it really felt like a Ducati. It is a slight step forward and you should see that here."


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